4 Great Reasons to Pursue a Medical Office Administration Career
Whether he or she works in a clinic, hospital, physician's office, or other healthcare setting, a medical office administrator performs many of the essential business-related tasks that support efficient and timely health services. Although medical office administrators aren't usually directly involved in patient care, they do play a vital role in helping people manage their health. Here are some of the other great things about pursuing this type of career:
1. Fulfilling and Varied Work
Depending on where you're employed, the job tasks can be quite diverse. For example, you could work at the front of an office, primarily greeting patients and scheduling appointments. Or your duties could take place behind the scenes, dealing with medical information and billing procedures. You can also find positions in different types of workplaces, such as small private practices or offices that are part of larger medical facilities.
Some of the typical duties of a medical office administrator are:
- Managing patients' records, including having all paperwork ready for appointments
- Answering phones
- Scheduling appointments
- Greeting patients
- Transcribing audio recordings by physicians
- Completing and submitting insurance claims
- Ordering supplies
- Collecting basic medical information from patients
- Completing required medical coding
- Submitting patient referrals to other healthcare providers
Medical office administrators often answer questions and provide reassurance for nervous patients. For instance, they may have to explain how a medical procedure is performed or decipher a billing policy for a patient. As a result, good communication skills are important. Experienced medical office assistants know that empathy and a sense of humour are also vital components of providing quality healthcare.
The diversity of the job is also reflected in the job titles. Some of the names for jobs you can get with a medical administration certificate or diploma include:
- Medical secretary
- Medical office assistant (MOA)
- Medical office specialist
- Dental office assistant
- Medical office manager
- Medical administrative assistant
These terms are often used interchangeably (including in this article). For example, in a Canadian healthcare setting, the difference between a medical assistant and an office administrator may only be the job title. But sometimes a person who is called a medical assistant might focus more on clinical duties. The difference between administrative and clinical duties is that:
- Administrative duties correspond with the business end of patient care (e.g., scheduling appointments, maintaining records, or billing patients).
- Clinical duties correspond with basic, direct patient care (e.g., measuring vital signs or preparing urine or blood samples for laboratory testing).
That's one reason why some medical administrative assistants wear scrubs and stethoscopes, whereas others favour business-casual outfits. Simply put, the duties of this career depend a lot on the particular workplace.
Working in a medical office often sparks an interest in other types of healthcare administration careers. Whereas medical office administrators are typically responsible for keeping a single office organized, other healthcare administrators often have a broader focus.
For example, many healthcare administrators oversee entire facilities. They may make executive-level decisions and be involved in long-term planning and strategy. So they typically require more education. That's why, with a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, you can get a job that involves managing a whole healthcare department or facility or working within the government to help set healthcare policy. Some healthcare administrators even work for international non-profit organizations.
2. Streamlined Training Options
Typically, to become a medical administrative assistant, you need a certificate, diploma, or associate degree in medical office administration. Although it's possible to find a job without formal education, most employers look for completion of a training program.
Compared to many other careers in the medical sector, this training can be completed in a relatively short timeframe. In most cases, it takes less than two years to become a medical office administrator. And many great programs can be completed in less than one year.
Still, programs for this career usually cover a lot of material. They often include courses that cover everything from medical terminology to advanced office procedures. Increasingly, computer technology is also a large part of the curriculum due to the use of electronic medical records (EMRs) in many offices.
3. The Potential for Good Pay
Medical office administrators have the potential to earn good wages, especially considering the short training period. Across Canada, medical administrative assistants make $21.43 per hour, on average. But wages vary a bit by location. For example, the average hourly wage is $25.78 in Alberta. In contrast, a medical office administrator makes $25.83 an hour in the Yukon Territory (on average), and an MOA makes $24.99 per hour in Nunavut.1
As your qualifications and responsibilities increase, so can your wages. For example, healthcare managers earn a median salary of $74,725.2 For comparison's sake, medical administrative assistants make $44,574 a year, on average.1
4. A Growing Number of Job Opportunities
One driving factor behind the demand for medical office assistants is the simple fact that Canada's population is getting older. (From 2014 to 2030, the number of Canadians over the age of 65 may rise from six million to 9.5 million.)3 As we age, we tend to need more healthcare treatment. So more medical office administrators will be needed to help healthcare providers over the coming decades.
Plus, many current medical office administrators are nearing retirement age, which should create further vacancies. For example, back in 2011, 53 percent of the people working in this field in British Columbia were 45 to 64 years old. That's one reason why the number of job openings for medical office administrators is expected to increase by 8.6 percent from 2017 to 2022 and another 8.6 percent from 2022 to 2027 in that province.4
Across Canada, 19,000 job openings are expected to become available in this field between 2016 and 2026.1
Ready to Move Forward?
Medical office administration schools can help you enter a career filled with opportunities to help patients and healthcare providers. And right now is a great time to take your next step toward the gratifying future that you want in this field. So enter your postal code into the search tool below to get started!
1 Government of Canada, Job Bank, website last visited on March 5, 2019.
2 PayScale, website last visited on March 5, 2019.
3 Government of Canada, "Action for Seniors report," website last visited on November 23, 2018.
4 Province of British Columbia, WorkBC," website last visited on November 23, 2018.