Medical administrative assistants, also known as medical secretaries or medical office assistants, are responsible for a variety of administrative and organizational tasks in a medical office. In addition to maintaining medical records, they assist patients with routine paperwork and check-ins. Some medical administrative assistants are also responsible for the appearance of the office and the waiting room. As a medical administrative assistant, you may work in a medical clinic, doctor’s office or hospital.
People skills are must-haves for medical administrative assistants. Those working in this position are usually the first people patients see when they step into a medical office, so medical administrative assistants must present themselves in a friendly, professional manner. In addition to greeting patients, the medical administrative assistant’s duties may include answering phones, scheduling appointments and interviewing patients in regard to their medical history.
A Good Organizer
Despite being in a medical setting, a medical administrative assistant is still an administrative assistant, and so is responsible for the organization of the office. Duties may include keeping patient files in order, compiling medical records, maintaining office supplies and processing bills and payments. Many hospitals and medical offices also use software that is proprietary to the medical industry, so computer proficiency and the ability to learn quickly are also important.
Knowledge of Medical Terminology
In addition to basic administrative duties, medical administrative assistants have several responsibilities requiring familiarity with medical terminology that the average administrative assistant does not have. A medical administrative assistant may need to update medical histories, process lab results, handle interoffice memos and maintain supplies for the office, all of which can be completed more thoroughly with some knowledge of medical terminology.
General administrative assistants typically need only a high school diploma, and this carries over to some medical employers that prefer their employees to complete on-the-job training to ensure they're familiar with the office's specific needs. However, many medical employers prefer their administrative assistants to have some training in a more official capacity. Many colleges offer medical administrative assistant courses that lead to an associate degree in applied science. The degree program covers administrative duties, as well as medical terminology and software specific to the medical field. After earning a degree or completing any other accredited medical assisting program, candidates are eligible to take the exam for the Certified Medical Assistant credential offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants.
Medical administrative assistants must appear professional, while still being friendly and courteous. Many people see doctor visits as uncomfortable experiences, so a friendly face and confident demeanor can make a big difference to those who may come into the office already nervous. It's also important, especially in hospital settings, for medical administrative assistants to remain calm in tense situations, as they may come in contact with patients experiencing a great deal of pain or even a medical emergency. As one of the first people these patients encounter, the medical administrative assistant's calm demeanor can help reassure them.
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