Medical Administrative Assistant

What is a Medical Administrative Assistant?

admin-assistantAn administrative medical assistant is a healthcare professional who has responsibilities related to running a medical office or healthcare organization. When considering a career in medical assisting it is important to understand the difference between the types of medical assisting jobs.

There are two different classifications of medical assistants including clinical and administrative. Sometimes they are called back office or front office medical assistants. Back office or clinical medical assistants perform tasks, such as taking vital signs, preparing the patient for tests and assisting the doctor with procedures.

Administrative or front office medical assistants differ from clinical assistants. They do not provide direct patient care. Instead, they have responsibilities such as clerical and office duties. In some small office and clinics medical assistants may do both clinical and administrative duties. But in most cases, responsibilities are divided into different medical assisting jobs.

According to the BLS, jobs for administrative medical assistants are expected to grow faster than the average for other occupations.

Medical Administrative Assistant Salary and Job Demand

ma-salaryAdministrative medical assistants are in demand in a variety of healthcare settings including medical practices, clinics, and urgent care centers. Assistants may also find employment in medical billing companies and insurance agencies.

Salaries for administrative medical assistants vary according to experience, type of healthcare facility, and geographical area. For example, an administrative medical assistant working in New York City will most likely earn a higher salary than an assistant working in a small town.

Although there are many variables, according to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, the average salary for all types of medical assistants was just over $29,000 a year. In 2015 the average medical office assistant salary was $34,000 a year.

If you are looking for a medical job which appears to have a strong outlook, administrative medical assisting seems to be a good fit. According to the BLS, jobs for administrative medical assistants are expected to grow faster than the average for other occupations.

Administrative medical assistants may advance their career by moving into positions such as medical office management, medical records management, and medical assistant instructing. In some instances, additional training and opportunities may be provided to employees who exhibit the skills and attitude needed to take on more responsibilities.

What Does an Administrative Medical Assistant Do?

Although administrative medical assistants do not provide direct patient care, they still have an essential role in the medical field. An administrative medical assistant may perform different duties depending on where they work. Some typical responsibilities include:

Scheduling patient appointments:

One of the many job duties of an administrative medical assistant is scheduling and coordinating patient appointments. Scheduling may include visits to practitioners, labs, or diagnostic tests and treatment appointments.

Answering phones:

Receptionist responsibilities may be assigned to an administrative medical assistant. This includes answering phones and greeting patients.

Maintaining patient records:

Patients medical records may be in an electronic or paper format. Either way, part of the duties of an administrative medical assistant involves maintaining records, adding information as needed, and making sure appropriate patient forms are in the patient's record.

Processing insurance claims:

An important part of the job is submitting patient’s claims to insurance companies for payment. Without payment, medical practices and clinics may have a difficult time staying in business.

Assisting with medical coding:

In some cases, administrative medical assistants are involved in medical coding. Coding is used to submit information to insurance companies for reimbursement.

Medical Office Assistant Duties:

There are many responsibilities involved with running an office. Administrative medical assistants may be responsible for ordering supplies, bookkeeping, coordinating vendor services and maintaining employee records.

The length of an administrative medical assistant program varies, but most can be completed in one to two years.

What are the Education Requirements for Administrative Medical Assistants?

ma-requirementsAlthough formal education is not required by law to work as an administrative medical assistant, most medical practices prefer to hire someone who has completed a medical assisting program.

Some medical assisting programs combine both the clinical and administrative aspects of the field. In combination programs, you learn both clinical duties and administrative duties. This type of program is a good option for someone who may want to work in either area of medical assisting.

There are also programs which are specifically for administrative medical assisting. In this type of program you will not learn clinical responsibilities involving direct patients care. Instead, you learn the administrative skills needed to keep a medical practice running smoothly.

The length of an administrative medical assistant program varies, but most can be completed in one to two years. There are also online programs for administrative medical assisting, which offers a flexible schedule and may be a good option (especially if you work full-time).

Classes usually include computer basics, medical terminology, medical insurance regulations, and communications. Some programs may also incorporate classes on medical billing and coding.

Certification for Administrative Medical Assisting

Although certification is not mandatory for employment, it can help increase your chances of landing a job. You have a few different options to become certified in administrative medical assisting.

Certification for medical assistants is available through the American Association of Medical Assistants. The certification is intended for both clinical and administrative medical assistants. Although the certification is not specifically geared towards administrative medical assistants, it can still give you the edge when job seeking, click here to read our resume and job seeking advice.

Another option is to obtain certification through the National Healthcare Association. They offer a medical administrative assistant certification.

Certification eligibility varies by organization. For example, some certifying agencies require graduation from an accredited medical assisting program and passing an exam. Certification is something to consider since it may mean higher salaries and more employment opportunities.