Medical administrative assistants, also called administrative medical assistants, are a specialized type of medical assistant. Medical administrative assistants focus on the administrative activities that make a clinical office run smoothly.
Medical administrative assistants are in high demand in the medical field, as medical offices, like other offices, need to be run by administrative personnel. Medical assisting is one of the fastest growing occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with growth expected to remain high until at least 2016.
What Do Medical Administrative Assistants Do?
Medical administrative assistants may work in a variety of environments. An administrative medical assistant can work in environments such as:
- Physician’s Offices
- Outpatient Medical Facilities
- Offices of Chiropractors
- Offices of Optometrists
- Podiatrist Offices
- Specialty Clinics
Administrative medical assistants usually work in a clean, safe, and well-lit environment.
Duties of Medical Administrative Assistants
Medical administrative assistants are essential to the efficient operation of an office. They make sure physicians see the right patients at the right times, ensure patients remember their appointments, ensure insurance forms are filled out correctly, and often perform any task that does not involve medical treatments or procedures.
Some tasks of a medical administrative assistant might include:
- Updating Patient Records
- Answering Phones
- Collecting Patient Payments
- Greeting Patients
- Filling Out and Submitting Insurance Forms
- Scheduling Hospital Admissions
- Sorting Mail
- Scheduling Laboratory Testing
Medical administrative assistant responsibilities may extend beyond administrative tasks, though. Many administrative medical assistants, particularly those who work in small clinics, also perform some of the duties of a clinical medical assistant. More information can be found in a general medical assistant job description.
Medical Administrative Assistant Training
Although some employers prefer to train their own medical administrative assistants, this practice is becoming rare. Employers these days prefer formally trained administrative medical assistants who have graduated from accredited medical assisting schools.
You can generally complete a diploma or a certificate program in administrative medical assisting within one year. An associate’s degree program can take up to two years, and involves slightly more advanced training. These programs focus on the job responsibilities of medical administrative assistants. Medical assisting courses include job-specific subjects such as:
- Office Procedures
- Computer Operations
Diploma and certificate programs have few, if any, general course requirements such as World History or Social Studies. The focus of these programs is to train you for the specific responsibilities of administrative medical assistants.
An associate’s degree, by contrast, usually has a moderate portion of general course material along with those courses specific to medical assisting. You will gain a broader education that you can apply toward more advanced degrees later on. Associate’s degrees in administrative medical assisting usually last around 2 years.
Many community and junior colleges, vocational schools, and technical schools offer administrative medical assisting programs. You can explore medical assistant schools to see what each program offers. But whatever school you choose to attend, make sure that it is accredited by either the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) or the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
Medical administrative assistants may also choose to become certified in order to become more employable.