Medical Office Assistant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Medical Office Assistant, or Medical Secretary, is responsible for managing the administrative and clerical tasks at a medical clinic or other private healthcare practice. Their duties include responding to messages from patients, scheduling appointments according to staff availability and processing insurance claims.

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Medical Office Assistant duties and responsibilities

A Medical Office Assistant’s responsibilities vary depending on the size and capacity of the medical facility they work for as well as the services it offers, but their main goal is to manage the front desk and handle any necessary clerical duties. Their typical day-to-day responsibilities include:

  • Greeting patients visiting the facility, answering any questions they may have and helping them fill out the required forms
  • Answering phone calls, creating appointments, directing the calls as required and handling all queries
  • Informing the Doctor, Nurse or other healthcare facilitators about impending appointments
  • Maintaining a filing system for all patient documents and reports submitted
  • Answering emails and other electronic messages as required
  • Creating invoices and bills, processing insurance forms and managing vendors and contractors
  • Managing inventory and placing orders as required
  • Transcribing all notes and documents related to treatments
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What does a Medical Office Assistant do?

Medical Office Assistants work in the front desk or office area of a healthcare provider to manage communications with patients, insurers and medical staff. Their role is to keep track of patient information and organize office records to ensure that all patients get prompt care and provide the correct payment information for their accounts. Medical Office Assistants interact with patients by helping them fill out intake forms, calling to remind them about appointment times, working out payment schedules and explaining next steps to process a referral or fill a prescription. They file medical paperwork and record interactions related to each file.

Medical Office Assistant skills and qualifications

Medical Office Assistants should be self-motivated with a desire to help others, and they need a strong set of skills and qualifications to successfully handle their job duties. Some of their most essential skills include:

  • Customer service skills and telephone etiquette
  • Familiarity with medical terms and technology
  • Understanding of law and ethics pertaining to medical practices
  • Basic accounting and math skills
  • Strong computer, data entry and office management skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Empathy and compassion to give support to patients
  • Attention to detail and problem-solving skills

Medical Office Assistant salary expectations

A Medical Office Assistant makes an average of $14.69 per hour in the United States. This amount may vary depending on a candidate’s level of education and experience.

Medical Office Assistant education and training requirements

Individuals need a minimum of a high school diploma or GED to become Medical Office Assistants. However, employers may prefer to hire candidates who have earned an associate degree or completed a medical assisting program. Organizations also look for applicants who have obtained the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant certification offered by the National Health Career Association. Some Medical Office Assistants need less education and can learn their duties on the job, but most employers prefer candidates to have a working knowledge of topics like medical terms and codes, laws and ethics and practice and malpractice specialties.

Medical Office Assistant experience requirements

The amount of experience candidates need to become Medical Office Assistants varies based on the size of the medical facility and the duties they would be required to do. A smaller clinic may hire applicants with minimal experience in customer service or office management, while larger organizations may require candidates to have experience in a similar position. Externship experience with any medical office while pursuing certification is acceptable as well.

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Frequently asked questions about Medical Office Assistants


What is the difference between a Medical Office Assistant and a Medical Biller?

Medical Office Assistants perform general administrative assistance in a healthcare setting while Medical Billers specifically work with interpreting medical codes, submitting them to insurance and managing invoices. Medical Billers understand complex coding systems for different types of treatments, allowing them to determine if a patient’s insurance covers certain procedures and medications or if they need to provide additional payment themselves. Medical Office Assistants can help with billing but are expected to primarily help with customers, scheduling and keeping the office stocked. Unlike Medical Billers, they have a more front-facing role that involves interacting with doctors and patients.


What are the daily duties of a Medical Office Assistant?

Medical Office Assistants tend to begin their shift early in the morning to prepare the medical office before it opens to patients. They check voicemail and email messages to identify any last-minute changes in the schedule or cancellations and coordinate with Doctors and Nurses to set their schedule for taking on new patients. They stock each of the examination rooms with essential supplies and print out the forms and paperwork that they will need for the day to facilitate the intake process and make sure that clinic staff can easily record new information about their patients.


What are the characteristics of a good Medical Office Assistant?

Good Medical Office Assistants are friendly and welcoming with excellent customer service skills that they use when interacting with both patients and Doctors. They are patient and calm when explaining the intake process, taking time to help people fill out forms when necessary. A good Medical Office Assistant is great at sticking to a schedule and managing their time to make sure that every patient can get the treatment they need. They pay attention to details, such as noticing when stock is low or when a file is out of place, so they can prevent errors and inefficiencies.


Who does a Medical Office Assistant report to?

Medical Office Assistants usually report to an Office Manager who oversees all of the administrative staff at the clinic. Many medical offices will have multiple Medical Office Assistants to cover the morning and afternoon shift, maintaining continuity with office communications. The Office Manager schedules the Medical Office Assistants and helps them uphold office procedures at all time. Medical Office Assistants also report to Doctors, Nurses and Lab Technicians about patients and their schedules.

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