Working as part of a healthcare team doesn’t always involve providing hands-on patient care. Some medical assistants focus on administrative tasks rather than clinical work. For these medical assistants, a typical day at work involves handling daily tasks that help keep a medical office running smoothly. Instead of being in the examination room, these assistants mainly work in the front office. Learning more about the necessary administrative skills for medical assistant jobs can help you decide if you might want to pursue this type of career.
What Is an Administrative Medical Assistant?
Medical assistants provide clinical or administrative help in medical offices, hospitals, and other kinds of healthcare facilities. While a clinical medical assistant handles tasks that involve helping physicians and other healthcare providers care for patients, a medical administrative assistant mostly handles office or clerical tasks. These tasks play an important role in keeping medical facilities functioning and ensuring that patients receive the care they need. In fact, demand for medical assistants is high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for medical assistants through 2030 is 18 percent, which is significantly higher than average due to aging populations and other factors.
What Are the Top Medical Assistant Qualifications and Skills?
Understanding what medical assistant knowledge is needed can give you a better idea of what this career is like. The qualifications and skills medical administrative assistants need include a wide range of clerical or office skills, as well as technical skills and some medical knowledge. These skills help ensure that administrative medical assistants are able to handle the various tasks needed to keep medical offices up and running. The following are some of the most important qualifications and skills these medical assistants are expected to learn.
Managing Patient Medical Records
As part of their daily routine, administrative medical assistants often manage patient medical records. This involves creating records for new patients and updating records for existing patients while ensuring all information is accurate. Medical assistants should also have transcription skills to turn voice recordings from doctors and other healthcare staff into written reports. Medical administrative assistants are often expected to fill out insurance forms as well. Being familiar with how to do this correctly is essential to reduce the risk of problems with insurance companies that could affect patient care.
Computer Software Knowledge
Administrative medical assistants should have the right technical skills and knowledge for working with computer software. Most healthcare facilities use electronic health records to keep track of patient information, rather than written health records. Medical assistants need to be able to access and add or update information in these electronic health records as needed. Being knowledgeable about using these software programs helps ensure patient records are well-maintained and accurate. Medical assistants can learn these skills in school and on the job.
Medical offices and other healthcare facilities are often busy with incoming calls, as well as outgoing calls to patients to remind them about upcoming appointments or gather information from them. Medical administrative assistants need to expertly manage the phones in healthcare facilities. In some cases, this involves being able to handle multiple incoming calls and direct patients to the right healthcare provider or department.
Scheduling and Appointment Setting
One of the top skills of a medical assistant is being able to handle scheduling and appointment setting. This can be a challenging task in busy medical offices and healthcare facilities. Medical administrative assistants need to set up appointments for new and existing patients, make changes to scheduled appointments when needed, and keep track of canceled appointments. In healthcare practices with multiple providers, scheduling and appointment setting can be a significant part a medical assistant’s daily tasks.
Administrative medical assistants might be responsible for purchasing equipment and supplies for medical offices or other healthcare facilities. This requires having solid skills in budgeting, financing, and decision-making. These medical assistants might be expected to make decisions about purchasing office supplies, such as printer paper and computers, and ensuring that medical offices always have necessary supplies stocked. In some cases, administrative medical assistants purchase surgical tools and other medical equipment. No matter what items or supplies medical assistants oversee purchasing, they need to stay within a certain budget.
Medical administrative assistants need to have strong organizational skills and a strong attention to detail. These assistants handle a wide range of tasks daily, including scheduling appointments, updating patient records, and completing insurance forms. Being detail-oriented and having good organizational skills helps reduce the risk of costly and potentially dangerous errors that could occur otherwise, such as errors on insurance forms or mistakes that affect patients’ prescriptions. Keeping medical offices running smoothly and ensuring patients receive proper care requires administrative medical assistants to be as organized as possible.
Administrative medical assistants should be able to follow all office protocols, including health and safety protocols. When new protocols are implemented, these medical assistants should adjust the way they handle their duties and responsibilities as needed. For example, medical offices might have updated protocols for the way patient records are maintained or how patients are checked in for appointments. Medical administrative assistants need to stay up to date on all office protocols and make sure they’re following them as directed.
Become a Medical Assistant at CHCP
The College of Health Care Professions (CHCP) offers a Medical Assistant Certificate Program to provide the training needed for this career. This program teaches you the clerical or office skills you’ll need when working as an administrative medical assistant. You’ll also learn clinical skills that you might use as a medical assistant from time to time, depending on where you work. During your training at CHCP you will be expected to be knowledgeable in a multitude of clinical skills, including but not limited to, phlebotomy, surgical procedure assistance, injections, specimen collection, and more. As a professional you may choose the administrative side, but in order to graduate there is a 50/50 split of administrative/clinical skills needed to complete the program successfully.
This blended program lasts for 36 weeks and is available at any of our campus locations in San Antonio, Houston, Austin, McAllen, Dallas, and Fort Worth. We also offer this program online that lasts 40 weeks. Keep in mind that you can transfer the credits you earn for this certificate program into CHCP’s Health and Medical Administrative Services Associate Degree Program, should you choose to advance your education further.
If you would like more information on our Medical Assistant Program, please contact CHCP. We can tell you more about the kinds of courses that are part of this program and help you start the admissions process.