A medical office assistant is an employee in a doctor’s office that helps the doctors, nurses and physician’s assistants provide care to patients. Medical office assistants receive special training from career colleges to help enhance their employment opportunities. They can be licensed or unlicensed.
While a part of the job is administrative, including answering phones, greeting patients, making copies, sending faxes, scheduling appointments and light bookkeeping, a majority of the medical office assistant’s job includes specialized work with medical and billing software. The assistant will take an inventory of all patients who come in, take their blood pressure and heart rate and prepare the patient for an appointment with the doctor.
Medical office assistant programs can be completed online or through a career advancement college. The program takes one to two years to finish and makes a person more attractive to potential employers. Students can work at doctors' offices while they are in school, and some doctors are willing to pay for further education for their employees.
Advanced Medical Assistant Jobs
With a license in medical office assisting, students can go on to jobs as a medical coder, coding technician or coding specialist. These professionals use codes to bill patients' insurance companies and organize patient records.
There are also similar jobs in the insurance industry such as an insurance claims analyst or health information specialist. This job involved auditing the claims sent in from doctors and paying out reimbursements.
One of the most important skills a medical assistant must have is fluency in the specific software in a doctor’s office. Schools will teach many of these skills, but each doctor’s office or insurance office is slightly different. All of these are also switching to medical-records software to save space, and its important that medical office assistants are comfortable integrating billing software with records software.
The starting salary for medical office assistants is about $25,000 a year for unlicensed assistants and $30,000 a year for those who are licensed. Raises are fairly frequent, and as more skills are learned, salaries should rise.