Medical administrative assistants play a crucial role within the wider healthcare industry. While they tend to work behind the scenes in medical practices, the work they do helps to streamline the patient experience.
Their duties include ensuring day-to-day administrative tasks are taken care of, scheduling appointments, and maintaining patient records. Without medical administrative assistants, healthcare facilities would be unable to function.
So, if you have a passion for helping people and have always wanted to work in healthcare, continue reading for our step-by-step guide on how to become a medical administrative assistant.
1. Discover the Roles and Duties of a Medical Administrative Assistant
The first step to becoming a medical administrative assistant is doing your research. While it may sound self-explanatory, having a good understanding of the various roles and duties can ensure you are prepared.
For example, you may have strong communication skills but if you have little to no experience using IT systems, you may not be a good fit for the role. Most employers will provide on-the-job training but it will be easier if you have a basic understanding of the tools you will be using daily.
Similarly, a basic understanding of maths may be required to maintain financial records and process patient bills.
2. Attain Your Degree from MA Schools
While not necessary to become an administrative medical assistant, a degree can help you stand out from the crowd and boost your employment prospects.
Examples of nationally recognized medical administrative assistant programs include:
Medical Administrative Assistant (Penn Foster)
This online course delivers accredited training that is designed to prepare you for certification. During the program, you will learn about medical terminology, basic pharmacology, and industry laws.
Because it is home-based, you can work through the material at your own pace and take as much time as you need. Most students complete the course in around 10 months.
Medical Administrative Online Associate Degree (National American University)
This 90-credit program is available online for students throughout the country. As a graduate, you should be able to demonstrate basic skills and have a firm grasp of legal and ethical issues.
It is open to entry-level job seekers as well as existing healthcare professionals
Medical Administrative Assistant (University of Arkansas Grantham)
This program provides the basic skills and training needed to become an entry-level medical administrative assistant.
Over 24 months, you will learn about healthcare delivery systems, certification preparation, and medical terminology.
3. Acquire Hands-on Experience
While a degree program can give you formal education, hands-on experience is crucial for a role within the healthcare industry.
For example, previous experience working in a medical office or with medical records will give you the upper hand during the application process.
Experience with Electronic Health Record (EHR) software is also advantageous. This can save time and money on administering training.
4. Obtain Professional Certification (CMAA)
While not required, certification recognizes that you have completed the relevant experience and training to become a medical administrative assistant. Because of their specialized skill set, certified medical administrative assistants can also work in a wider variety of healthcare settings.
Examples of certifications include:
Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)
The CMAA certification from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA) can enhance your skills and experience and prepare you for working as a medical administrative assistant.
CMAA certification also proves to employers that you are competent and qualified to carry out the duties required to run a medical office.
Certified Medical Assistant (CMA)
The CMA certification from the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) qualifies you to work as a medical assistant in a professional capacity.
CMA certification requires graduation from an accredited program and passing a certification exam.
5. Find and Apply for Medical Administrative Assistant Jobs
Once you have acquired the relevant education and training, you can start searching for jobs. This can be a daunting step but with the right skills and experience, you should have no problem finding a suitable position.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the median salary for a medical administrative assistant is $39,740 per year and $19.11 per hour.
However, before you start applying for jobs, you must outline your search criteria including location, salary, and benefits. This can make it easier to filter jobs and find the perfect role for you.
Examples of the types of places you can find work as a medical administrative assistant in the U.S. include:
- Healthcare facility
- Medical office
- Doctor’s office
- Outpatient clinic
- Research center
- Nursing home
6. Further Your Education
Most medical administrative assistant roles require a high school diploma or GED equivalent. This will prove to employers that you are educated to a certain level.
But while there is no requirement for formal education, such as an associate degree program, it can be beneficial. Some accelerated programs can even be completed in a few months and on a part-time basis so you can work around your commitments.
Most specialized roles also require further education to learn about job-specific duties and terminology. For example, if you wanted to advance to a medical assistant role, it may be useful to research taught medical assistant programs in your area.
Tips for Becoming a Successful Medical Administrative Assistant
Like any healthcare career, there are steps you can take to help you succeed in your role as a medical administrative assistant.
Here are some tips for becoming a successful medical administrative assistant:
Practice your organizational skills
Organizational skills are useful in any career but especially in a role that deals with patient medical records.
For example, you must be skilled at medical records management, medical coding, and medical billing and be able to switch tasks in the blink of an eye. Knowing which tasks to focus on first can help you save time and ensure you never miss a deadline.
Have a positive attitude
Having a positive attitude sounds simple enough but when your to-do list is piling up, it can be difficult to stay calm.
Because you will be dealing with patients directly, you must be professional. This can ease patient anxiety and reassure them that you have their best interests at heart.
Seek further training
In the healthcare industry, medical administrative assistant training is key to ensuring you are performing your duties to the best of your ability and are up to date with the latest industry advice and guidelines.
Further training is also mandatory if you wish to specialize or advance to a more senior position, such as office manager.
Becoming a medical administrative assistant can make for a worthwhile and satisfying career. With the right training and education, you can learn the skills and experience needed to thrive in the fast-paced world of healthcare.
With the role benefitting from an excellent salary and plenty of opportunities to find work, now is a great time to start the process of becoming a medical administrative assistant. Whether you already work in healthcare or are looking for a career change, take the first step by doing your research and finding a top school in your area.
At a time when healthcare facilities are busier than ever, you’ll not only be making a difference to the patients you meet daily but to the wider healthcare industry as a whole.
What computer skills do you need to become a medical administrative assistant?
While training will be given, you must have a basic understanding of email, word processing, and spreadsheets. Most educational programs also teach basic computer skills.
Is a medical administrative assistant the same as a medical assistant?
Both roles share similar titles but different duties. For example, medical administrative assistants mainly deal with clerical queries while medical assistants directly assist physicians with patients.
What are the top skills a medical administrative assistant must have?
As a medical administrative assistant, you must have organization, communication, and computer skills.