What does a Medical Administrative Assistant do?

Medical administrative assistants or medical secretaries work in the office area or at the front desk of a medical facility to manage communication with medical staff, patients, and insurers. Their duties involve keeping track of patient data and organizing records to ensure patients get timely care and give the correct payment info for their accounts. These professionals also explain to the patients the steps to follow when filling a prescription or processing a referral. The medical secretary's role combines indirect and direct patient care duties. It needs a strong balance of interpersonal abilities and administrative skills.

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What is the average salary of medical administrative assistants?

A medical administrative assistant’s average base annual salary is $35,454 within the United States. Their salary may vary depending on many factors. For example, the state you work in as a medical secretary can significantly impact your compensation. The kind of medical facility you work for can also greatly affect the amount you're paid. Compensation levels for emergency rooms, medical clinics, and private practices are different. Other factors that determine your salary when working as a medical secretary include the level of education and experience.

medical administrative assistant

What industries hire medical administrative assistants?

Pursuing a medical administrative assistant career allows you to get employment opportunities in different settings. Depending on your experience, personal references, or location, you can get a medical secretary role that appeals to you. Here are the common fields that hire medical administrative assistants.

  • Hospitals
  • Medical research centers
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Nursing care facilities
  • Insurance carriers
  • Diagnostic laboratories
  • Higher learning institutions



Working as a medical administrative assistant

As a professional medical secretary, you will provide day-to-day support operations in a healthcare facility by performing different administrative and clerical tasks while ensuring high-quality patient service. You will manage the back and front of the medical office, including patient communication, billing support, and scheduling patient appointments. Also, expect to do a relative amount of paperwork, filing, and interacting with physicians and patients. However, your day-to-day experience as a medical office assistant can change based on the kind of practice you work for and the department you serve in your practice. Overall, expect to spend most of your time helping doctors keep the medical facility running smoothly. You will also help the patients feel satisfied and comfortable with their experiences.

Medical administrative assistant job description

The responsibilities of a medical office assistant vary based on the capacity and size of the healthcare facility and the services it offers. However, their primary objective is to manage the office front desk and handle the necessary clerical tasks. Their day-to-day responsibilities and duties include:

  • Answering patients' questions in person or on the phone
  • Using medical software applications to support transactions
  • Scheduling doctor appointments online or over the phone
  • Helping patients register at the front desk for appointments
  • Collecting medical and personal data to create patient records
  • Handling billing and accounting procedures
  • Processing medical and insurance payments
  • Filling medical charts
  • Transcribing all documents and notes related to treatments
  • Ordering supplies and managing inventories
  • Entering, retrieving, editing, and updating computerized patient data and treatment regimens
  • Passing on test results to nurses or doctors
  • Creating and reacting to electronic correspondence
  • Keeping up-to-date with current changes in insurance and medical legislation
  • Informing doctors, nurses, or other medical facilitators about approaching appointments
  • Facilitating communication between different staff members in clinics, hospitals, private practices, or other healthcare offices
  • Ensuring compliance with medical procedures

What type of equipment does a medical administrative assistant use?

Medical office assistants are an important part of any medical facility, providing clerical and administrative assistance to patients and co-workers. Here are some of the useful tools medical administrative assistants need to work effectively:

  • Computer – You'll constantly refer to computers as a resource library, medical records storage, scheduling calendar, communications tool, and coding and billing machine.
  • Pen and paper – Although computers are revolutionizing how we approach healthcare, you still need pen and paper to fill forms when patients arrive in your workplace.
  • Clipboard - A clipboard is an excellent tool for recording immediate observations by hand before transcribing them. It also sits close to the patient's bed to provide their personal and treatment information.
  • Digital thermometer – This quick-to-use and easy-to-read tool helps you take instant temperature readings.

What is the work environment of a medical administrative assistant?

Medical secretaries work in laboratories or offices within hospital settings or clinics. You may have a telephone or computer workstation at the facility's reception desk or share office space with other administrative employees. The working conditions of a medical office assistant are normally quiet and peaceful. However, that can change if there's a life-threatening situation or a patient requiring urgent care. The medical secretary is usually the face of the healthcare facility and must communicate with patients and medical staff. Therefore, this role needs in-person attendance, meaning telecommuting opportunities are minimal.

Who are your colleagues as a medical administrative assistant?

Depending on the healthcare facility and organization you work for, you will report to the doctor in charge or office manager. You will work with doctors, nurses, lab technicians, insurance carriers, IT support technicians, department heads, and other healthcare facilitators.

What is the work schedule of a medical administrative assistant?

Medical office assistants work within healthcare facilities such as hospitals, medical laboratories, clinics, doctor's offices, nursing care facilities, and medical research centers. These professionals typically spend most of their time in the facility's offices, the records-keeping departments, or the reception desk in treatment areas. On average, they work 40 hours a week, which might involve working on public holidays, weekends, and evenings


What is the career outlook for medical administrative assistants?

Medical secretaries work in all types of medical practices. Clinics, private practices, hospitals, and other medical operations need these professionals. That means the demand for medical office assistants is high, and the job outlook is positive. According to the US Bureau of Statistics, the employment rate in this field is expected to grow by 29% between 2016 and 2026. This growth comes primarily from aging baby boomers needing increased care and more individuals having medical coverage due to the new laws.

What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a medical administrative assistant?

Spherion is a staff placement and recruiting company that has connections with successful companies across many industries. Depending on your location and the working environment you prefer, Spherion.com can help you secure the job you want. Getting your dream job as a medical office assistant through Spherion provides you with many notable benefits, including:

  • Smooth and quick job interviews
  • Access to training, resources, and skills for career development
  • Permanent and temporary contracts
  • Well-experienced staffing specialists to assist during a job search
  • Access to your location's most sought-after jobs
  • Full-time and part-time working schedules

What education do you need as a medical administrative assistant?

Formal education

Unlike many in-demand healthcare positions, qualifying for this role won't take years of studying. Many medical administrative assistant positions don't even need a degree. However, many employers look for candidates with a medical administrative certificate or an associate degree. You will need a GED or a high school diploma to work as an entry-level medical office assistant. The good news is that it can take as little as nine months to earn your medical secretary certificate. The curriculum that makes up the medical administrative assistant program is dynamic and will help you obtain the perfect blend of interpersonal and clerical skills you need to excel in the role. During your coursework, you will learn about medical administration technologies, medical terminologies, medical ethics, and medical law. You will also learn about customer support in healthcare.

You might also want to look for externships or volunteer opportunities to work with professionals performing relevant duties while you are studying to become a medical administrative assistant. That will help you get hands-on experience before joining the workforce and give you a competitive advantage during your job search.

Some organizations prefer hiring applicants with a certification from the NHA (National Healthcareer Association). Although some medical secretaries require less education and usually learn their responsibilities on the job, employers prefer applicants with knowledge of medical codes, terminologies, and ethics. The level of experience an applicant needs to become a medical office assistant varies depending on the duties assigned to them and the size of the healthcare facility. A larger organization may require applicants to have working experience in office management or customer service. At the same time, smaller clinics may hire candidates with little or no experience in the same position.

Medical administrative assistant skills & competencies

A medical secretary should be a self-motivated individual who desires to help others. Therefore, you'll need strong qualifications and skills to handle your duties successfully. Some of the most important skills include:

  • Basic math and accounting skills
  • Familiarity with medical technology and terms
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Telephone etiquette and perfect customer service skills
  • Impeccable computer skills
  • Excellent office management skills
  • Familiarity with laws and ethics governing medical practices
  • Excellent communication skills



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