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What Does a Medical Office Assistant Do?

August 9, 2019

Every profession within the medical sector must work together to bring patients and their families the care they deserve. Medical office assistants play an essential role in the operation of any medical office, even if the work they do isn’t as obvious as the tasks performed by doctors, or nurses.

While working in the healthcare field is extremely rewarding, it can also be very demanding. While most people don’t mind the hard work, it’s the time and cost of education that can deter them from entering the career field. Whatever your situation may be, if it is holding you back from studying for a Bachelor’s, medical school, or from a Masters, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your hopes in working in the healthcare field. There are many ways to work in the medical field, like through our programs at Robertson.

At Robertson, our Medical Office Assistant Diploma Program prepares students with skill sets that will allow them to work in any medical office. For this reason, students find meaningful careers in a range of medical environments, performing high-level tasks that help keep businesses operational. If becoming a medical office assistant is of interest to you, continue reading to learn more about the steps you need to take to start your career.


Career overview

What does a Medical Office Assistant Do?

The role of a medical office assistant can change depending on the work setting or the position, but in broad terms, medical office assistants provide administrative, technical, and secretarial help and support to other medical professionals. This can include communicating messages from staff to patients or vice versa, entering medical reports, conducting initial patient interviews, scheduling and confirming appointments, and more.

 When working as a medical office assistant, you have the opportunity to work in a number of work environments. You can work in a hospital setting, a physiotherapy clinic, a sports injury clinic, chiropractor, dentist, orthodontist, doctor’s office or in the claims department of an insurance company. 

Because medical office assistants can find work in many different medical environments, there are many common names for the position. You can often hear people referring to medical office assistants as medical office clerks, a medical secretary, health centre assistants, or medical receptionists.


What is the Required Education and Training?

When it comes to beginning your career as a medical office assistant, aspiring candidates must complete at least a high school diploma. This is typically expected for most administrative positions. It’s likely that hiring managers will look for candidates who have a college certificate or diploma. When it comes to medical office assistant education, hiring managers will look for someone with a diploma program specific to medical office assistants or in the healthcare related field. Additionally, a candidate with a diploma or degree in business administration would also be a great fit for this career.

The reason doctor and dentist offices or hospitals look for someone with a medical office assistant diploma is because they want to see candidates who have the correct qualifications, training, and experience. Diploma programs typically incorporate hands-on training that ensure students are graduating with the education and skills to fulfill their duties in the workplace.

At Robertson, students who take the Medical Office Diploma Program will:


  • Be introduced to clinical procedures and learn the key competencies and clinical skills performed in a medical office setting including vital signs, motor testing, sensory testing, sterile procedures and more
  • Learn office procedures that are applicable to the medical office setting including navigating around medical office software, patient record keeping, office administration, and patient relations
  • Develop the Medical Transcription skills necessary to produce accurate medical reports from recorded dictation 
  • Learn about anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology useful to a medical office setting
  • Develop professional business communication and customer service skills to work in a dynamic medical office setting
  • Earn your Emergency First Aid / CPR training certifications
  • Learn proper typing techniques and improve your keyboarding accuracy
  • Learn to use Microsoft Windows applications including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint


At Robertson, students take part in a compulsory 4-week full time work practicum where they work alongside industry professionals in a medical office setting. This is a great opportunity for students to meet and network with industry professionals and figure out what type of medical setting you want to work in after graduation. Regardless of where you study, the diploma program you take should be equipped with the resources and education you will need to find a job after graduation. At Robertson, we offer career services to students and graduates, which includes resume and cover letter development, help with the job search, and interview preparation.


Medical Office Assistant Job Responsibilities

Medical office assistant’s tasks and job responsibilities can differ depending on the work environment, but the following is a list of what you can expect when working as a medical office assistant: 

  •     Greeting and registering patients
  •     Redirecting or escorting patients to their respective areas
  •     Addressing patient concerns in person, over the phone, or by email
  •     Maintaining office and medical supplies.
  •     Completing administrative and clerical tasks such as medical records, data entry and billing.
  •     Completing insurance and other claim forms
  •     Scheduling and confirming client appointments.
  •     Communicating messages to medical staff and patents.
  •     Conducting initial interviews with patients to complete forms, documents, and history.


Some of the daily tasks include: 

  •     Scheduling and confirming routine appointments
  •     Filing and sorting medical files and other documents
  •     Responding to all in-person, phone, and email inquiries.
  •     Contacting and following up with patients and insurance companies.
  •     Processing and preparing medical files.
  •     Receiving payments and recording them into patients record and issuing receipts when necessary.


What are the Necessary Key Skills? 

Medical office assistants typically deal with clients for most of the day, which is why they need to have excellent interpersonal communication skills. Not only do they have to show strong interpersonal communication skills, they should also be:

  •     Organized
  •     Team-players
  •     Analytical and problem-solvers
  •     Detail-oriented
  •     Able to multi-task
  •     Able to work well under pressure


Become a medical office assistant

Before entering any field, it’s important to know what to expect salary wise. As a medical office assistant, the salaries can depend on many factors including where you are working, your hours, the province you live in, and many other facts. According to Neuvoo, the average medical office assistant salary in Canada is $31,704 per year. Entry-level positions can start at $22,000 and experienced workers make up to $44,000.


Start the Job Search

Once you have completed the necessary education and have the proper work experience, you can begin your medical office assistant job search. There are many incredible resources online to use when beginning your job search. To begin, it’s important to create a detailed, accurate, and up-to-date resume and cover letter. To learn how to write a great resume and cover letter, view our guide here.

No matter where you choose to study, the institution you study at should provide you with job search assistance after graduation. At Robertson, we offer career services to students and graduates, which includes resume and cover letter development, help with the job search, and interview preparation.

It is a great career choice for those who want to work in the healthcare field and have a passion for fast-paced administrative work. If you are undecided or are interested in learning more, Robertson’s Medical Office Assistant Diploma Program is a great option for students who want to complete their education at one of our Winnipeg, Edmonton or Calgary campuses. 

As a part of Robertson’s School of Health, it is a 32-week program that equips students with the necessary office administrative skills and clinical knowledge to prepare them to work effectively in a medical office. Connect with a Student’s Admissions Advisor for more information.

Ready to Get Started?

Once you take the first step, one of our Student Admissions Advisors will get in touch to better understand your goals for the future.