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Administrative medical assistants are the front-office staff who make sure medical offices run smoothly and effectively. They are familiar with healthcare industry practices, patient needs and clinical administration skills. Whether interacting with patients or facilitating integral office tasks, administrative medical assistants are working in a detail-oriented, customer service environment.

What Does an Administrative Medical Assistant Do?

Administrative medical assistants are a vital part of healthcare operations. Knowing everything from office skills to the intricacies of the American health insurance system is necessary to be successful on the job. Studying through a program will give you the specialized, cross-trained knowledge you need to be able to succeed in this career. The daily requirements of an administrative medical assistant depend on the specialty and size of the practice, but they include both clinical and administrative duties such as:

Job Duties:

  • Prepare patients for the physician
  • Obtain medical information such as vital signs, weight and height
  • Schedule appointments
  • Answer phones
  • Update electronic health records with patient medical history, vital statistics and test results
  • Manage medical billing and coding needs
  • Fill out insurance forms
  • Handle patient correspondence
  • Perform bookkeeping and accounting tasks
  • Use administrative medical software

Skills and Qualities Needed

If you’re thinking about studying in an administrative medical assistant program, you can look forward to a growing number of job opportunities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Because medical assisting is a career that requires heavily patient-focused and detailed outcomes, people who possess the appropriate skills and characteristics will be more likely to succeed.

Interpersonal Skills

From discussing sensitive patient information with physicians to interacting with the patients themselves, who are often in distress, it is imperative to have a calm and caring manner. It is also key to be an observant and clear communicator to correctly document patient information and work smoothly with the physician.

Analytical Skills

Because medical assistants work with medical records, billing and coding, they need to be detail-oriented and precise. They are also required to understand medical diagnoses and note them on medical charts.

Technical Skills

Job requirements include being able to work efficiently with computer software and medical equipment.

Administrative Medical Assistant Education and Training

The majority of medical assistants receive post secondary education, such as earning a certificate, before entering the field. There are a small number of people who enter the occupation with just a high school diploma, receiving on-the-job training. However, most employers prefer an educational background in medical assisting. If you’re considering entering the profession, you can choose from a certificate or degree program. You can find these programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical schools and universities.

Certificate Programs

Medical assistant certificate programs can usually be completed in a year or less. You will take courses ranging from anatomy and physiology to the fundamentals of medical billing. While this is the fastest route to beginning work, it allows for less specialization and qualification.

Administrative Medical Assisting Degree Programs

An administrative medical assistant degree is a two-year associate’s program, which can serve as a stepping stone if you decide to pursue a higher degree in the future. Classes are more extensive as well, including more science, psychology and administrative course options. It is important to research your program to make sure it is accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

What’s New in the World of Administrative Medical Assisting?

The medical and technology communities are working in sync to develop innovative patient care tools. One of the latest advances to reach medical professionals is MEDITECH software which includes a web chart with patient records and information in one place. MEDITECH software knowledge is a very desirable skill, so consider taking a MEDITECH training course to increase your job qualifications.

Where You Can Work

Different medical environments will require specific skills, so take into account that pursuing a higher, more well-rounded medical assisting degree will give you more options. Here are the most common places administrative medical assistants work:

  • Physicians’ offices
  • Dentists’ offices
  • Healthcare clinics
  • Insurance companies
  • Hospitals
  • Home health agencies