13 Essential Skills and Qualities to Excel as a Medical Office Assistantlink has been copied
2023-09-11 | Health and Social Services
Table Of Contents:
Essential Skills and Qualities of a Successful Medical Office Admin: A Single Mom's Inspiring Journey
Are you the kind of person who enjoys helping people? Do you want a stable career that provides an opportunity for personal growth? Do you have an interest in healthcare? Are you a team player who loves working with other people?
If this sounds like you, then becoming a Medical Office Assistant (MOA) might be your perfect fit. There are some great reasons to become a medical office assistant, one of which is to be a key member of the health care professional team. They are the first point of contact for patients. They assist doctors, nurses, and allied health practitioners in various medical settings. Whether in clinics, hospitals, care facilities or laboratories, MOAs are responsible for a range of administrative and behind-the-scenes work that keep healthcare settings running smoothly.
These important responsibilities include taking patient vitals and managing health files & record-keeping. To perform these duties, MOAs need specific types of knowledge and skills. These skills are essential for them to succeed in their role whether they become a health unit clerk, medical receptionist, or a patient coordinator.
Interested? In this article, we’ll discuss the must-have skills and qualifications to excel as a medical office assistant.
Whether you are just thinking about starting a healthcare career or are already working in one, pursuing a formal education with a medical office assistant diploma can unlock new opportunities for success. Just look at the inspiring story of Lalaine P., a single mom who had been working in health administration for seven years then decided to pursue further training to help advance her career. “I realized that I needed to take medical administration courses for me to learn more about my work and the field,” she shared.
By enrolling in Sundance College’s Medical Office Administration-Health Unit Coordinator diploma program, Lalaine was able to expand her technical knowledge and gain expertise in areas that would prove to be invaluable in a medical office assistant role. These key skills included computer skills, medical office procedures, anatomy, medical terminology, and clinical procedures.
With the formal education she received, Lalaine was able to demonstrate her competencies and shine in her role. She had a clear understanding of how to navigate electronic health record systems, manage patient information, and effectively communicate with patients and colleagues. Her exemplary performance earned her the well-deserved promotion to clinic office manager as soon as she earned her MOA Diploma.
Lalaine's story underscores the importance of formal education in the healthcare field, even for those with prior experience. A medical office assistant diploma not only enhances your technical knowledge but also provides you with the interpersonal and problem-solving skills necessary to thrive in a dynamic healthcare environment.
Let’s take a closer look at the 13 essential skills Lalaine acquired through her MOA training:
Medical Office Assistants have dynamic duties, working in both office and clinical settings. As such, they need to acquire basic medical and technical knowledge which provide a foundation for supporting the needs of health workplaces, including
The health system is highly computerized and computer literacy is a key skill that MOAs must have. In addition to Microsoft Office skills, medical office administrators should know how to use electronic health record (EHR) systems, and process medical coding and patient billing. Additional software knowledge is required for managing appointment schedules, video conferencing systems like Teams or Zoom, accessing and storing digital information like X-rays and lab tests.
All health work settings have administrative processes and procedures. Medical office administrators are responsible for managing information and administering the processes for an effective and efficient operation of health care offices.
Medical office assistants and hospital unit clerks require foundational knowledge of anatomy and medical terminology to effectively work in a hospital or medical office.
Lalaine said that she had a far better understanding of the work she was already doing in the clinic after an in depth look at commonly used medical terms. “Learning the proper medical terms from my teachers is a really big help for me as I am working in the clinic,” she said. “Now I am able to make the connection between what I’ve learned at Sundance, such as X-rays and echo-cardiography, to what I see on the job.”
Having a basic understanding of the body’s musculoskeletal, respiratory, nervous, and cardiovascular systems are important to know and are used throughout each day when communicating and coordinating with other administrative staff and healthcare professionals.
This is the process of transcribing voice-recorded medical reports that are dictated by physicians, nurses, and other health practitioners. Medical transcriptionists take the reports which may be physician notes taken after patient exams that are required to be transcribed and added electronically to patient files to ensure accurate patient records are kept.
MOAs must be proficient with the clinical assisting procedures that are specific to the type of health services provided in their workplace. For example, a patient coordinator at a laboratory must be knowledgeable about lab test requisitions. In a doctor’s office, an MOA might be responsible for taking vital sign measurements or they may be involved with infection control practices. These duties help to ensure health services are delivered in an effective and efficient manner.
Medical Office Assistants regularly interact with patients and fellow healthcare professionals. To have effective interactions, they must have good interpersonal skills.
Medical Office Assistants operate within a team environment focused on supporting excellent customer service. Effective communication with colleagues and patients is very important. Having active listening in healthcare and using clear language in a supportive caring manner is needed to effectively interact with patients, book appointments, document medical information, handle inquiries and communicate with team members.
As the initial point of contact in many health settings, medical office administrators are pivotal in creating positive experiences for patients and visitors.
For Lalaine, the rewarding feeling from helping people has cultivated her desire to provide the best customer service possible. “I really love helping people,” she said. “Whenever a patient comes in in our clinic and says ‘hey, thank you, you've been a great help for me.’ It feels so fulfilling.”
Medical office administrators create a comfortable and reassuring atmosphere, offering clear communication, empathy, and compassion. Going above and beyond means providing compassionate healthcare support and cultural sensitivity in healthcare settings.
Many patients are ill, nervous, or worried when entering the health system and may not be their usual charming selves when they communicate with health providers. Emotional intelligence is a key interpersonal skill MOAs need wherein they understand their own emotions and reactions better, recognize how others feel, and use that understanding to navigate challenges effectively and provide better care.
As with any successful workplace, being organized and having efficient processes and workflow are important. From patient records to appointment management to billing and documentation, Medical Office Assistants play a key role in maintaining smooth operations within a healthcare setting. If they have advanced to a clinic coordinator role, they ensure that all staff adhere to well-established and clearly communicated protocols.
Updating patient records, medical coding & billing, facilitating payroll, ordering supplies, getting equipment repaired, stocking examination rooms all require high organization skills to be done efficiently.
Problem Solving Skills
Problem-solving skills are often required by Medical Office Assistants to both address known deficiencies and prevent anticipated issues from arising.
Some aspects of problem-solving skills include:
Critical thinking by a MOA involves using their knowledge, skills, and experience to analyze situations and processes to determine potential issues or weaknesses that could negatively impact the clinic/office operation and patient care. Medical office assistants who develop excellent critical thinking skills are highly valued in health workplaces.
MOAs who pay close attention and notice minor details, whether in a patient examining room or when coding patient data, are also highly valued. Those who are detail oriented can catch mistakes, errors, and omissions to avoid problems from growing to much larger issues.
Adapting to changing circumstances and applying existing knowledge and experience to new situations are both excellent skills for medical office administrators to possess.
Adaptable MOAs can keep up with changing priorities and technologies, change processes to reflect new expectations, and anticipate how current procedures will need to be revised to accommodate future requirements.
MOAs must overcome difficulties and obstacles in medical offices to maintain efficient workflows. MOAs who can find quick, clever, and creative solutions to resolve those difficulties and achieve the desired outcomes are highly appreciated and valued in the workplace.
How to get started on becoming a Medical Office Assistant
The first step toward a fulfilling career as a Medical Office Assistant is enrolling in a comprehensive college education program that provides the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to enter the field.
In Lalaine’s case, finding a program specific to her work was critical as she would use her knowledge on the job right away. “I was looking for a specific program for the medical administrator,” she explained. “I want to use my learning while working in a medical field. The diploma is not just for a higher salary but it’s also going to help you improve at your work.”
Sundance College’s Medical Office Administration-Health Unit Coordinator program provides you with the blend of education and hands-on training that can provide you with an opportunity to pursue this exciting career path.
Our industry-experienced instructors and workplace practicums can prepare you for a new career in less than a year. Students have the option to have their learning in-class or online. This flexibility caters to student needs, priming them for success. “I’ve accomplished my goal while being a single mom, working, and studying,” Lalaine said. “I have everything I want and for that, I am 100 percent happy and proud of myself.”
To learn more about our Medical Office Administration – Health Unit Coordinator diploma program click here or fill out our Request Information form.