Updated January 2023
If you're reading this post, chances are you're seriously considering a career in medical office administration. Maybe you've already decided on a training program or are still researching options.
Either way, we're here to help you make a smart decision, based on your interests, natural skills, and professional goals. Skills lists are a great way to look ahead into the future and see what you'll actually be learning in class and doing at work.
This is key information for any prospective student. It's hard to know exactly what a new career will feel like on a daily basis—the actual tasks and responsibilities you'll be expected to take on. Looking at skills lists helps you visualize yourself in that role and make sure it's really what you want to do. In this case, we're looking at key skills for medical office administrators (MOAs).
These are the competencies you'll learn in MOA training, and be expected to perform at work. You'll need these skills to compete for good jobs, be happy at work, and excel in your career.
Take a look and see if these topics spark your interest. Let's get started.
1. Excellent communication and "people" skills
This is a number one requirement for medical office assistants/administrators. You're the one answering calls and emails, booking appointments, and greeting patients at reception. If you're not friendly, patient, and a clear communicator, you won't get far in this field!
We looked at a wide range of MOA job postings and found keywords like "friendly," "excellent interpersonal skills," and "strong oral/written communication" on every single one. No matter where you work—hospital, dental practice, family clinic, nursing home—you will need good people skills to excel.
Think about when you go to the doctor. It's usually when you don't feel well, have to get an uncomfortable exam, or have to deal with some urgent medical issue. It helps so much when the reception staff is friendly and welcoming and gives you clear information about what to expect during your visit.
These are key characteristics employers are looking for when hiring MOAs—and an important part of medical office administrator training.
2. Comfortable using clinical software
Appointment scheduling, inventory management, billing, filing—it's all done using clinical software (such as ABEL MED).
Not 100 per cent confident in your computer skills? Don't worry. Medical office courses include a lot of instruction, practice, and support in this area. You'll get to work with the software and learn all the different functions before you graduate.
At Herzing, for example, we train students on clinical software in class, and afterward they get extra practice in a real work environment during an internship at a local clinic.
This is important because employers want MOAs who are confident in this area. They don't have time to teach you how to use the computer system—they need new hires who can jump right in and hit the ground running.
3. Calm under pressure
This is another very important attribute for MOAs. Hospitals and clinics are often very busy places. And you can't expect patients to always be at their best—particularly when dealing with pain, chronic illness, and frightening diagnoses.
Plus, doctors often run behind schedule, which can cause patients to get impatient and frustrated. The most successful medical office administrators are great at staying calm when others lose their cool.
They are compassionate, don't take behaviour personally, and know how to de-escalate tense situations.
4. Accurate, organized record-keeping
Part of your job as an MOA is to keep patient records organized and up to date. When a doctor or nurse asks you for a file, you need to know exactly where it's stored, and the information must be accurate.
MOA training teaches students how to prepare and manage a range of clinical documents:
- Patient charts
- Patient histories
- Requisition forms for tests
- Lab and diagnostic reports
General organizational skills are also very important in this role. Some jobs require MOAs to coordinate and set up for staff meetings. You might also have to do transcription (take notes based on voice-recorded material from a nurse or doctor).
Bottom line: Employers are looking for meticulous, efficient medical office assistants who know how to manage information and keep a clinic running smoothly.
5. Basic accounting and patient billing
Sometimes MOAs are responsible for basic office accounting tasks—like payroll, recording transactions, and generating simple financial reports. And you'll definitely need to handle billing and process private insurance claims.
These are all skills taught in medical office administrator training. You'll start your first position with a good foundation in accounting and billing—which your employer can build on with extra training, depending on their specific needs.
6. Familiar with medical terminology
Why do MOAs need to know about human anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology? For several reasons. One, they often help with minor medical procedures—such as taking patient vital signs and doing an initial assessment of symptoms over the phone.
Two, they must be able to communicate with other medical staff and complete documentation using the correct terminology. And third, general knowledge of human body systems is a basic prerequisite to working in health care.
This is actually a very interesting part of MOA training, where students get to learn the language of medicine, common treatments and illnesses, and how the body works.
7. Do you speak a second language?
Depending on where you live, you may see MOA job postings looking for candidates who know multiple languages. That's because in diverse urban areas like Toronto, many clinics serve patients who don't speak much (or any) English.
For example, you'll see employers looking for medical office assistants who speak Tamil, Chinese, Urdu—or one of the many other languages commonly spoken throughout the GTA.
Don't speak another language? Don't worry, it's not a deal breaker. What's really important is cultural sensitivity. Employers want MOAs who can get along with people from all walks of life, without discrimination.
In a front-line role like MOA, you must be able to get along with everyone—regardless of culture, religion, etc.
So...what do you think? Do these skills and qualities match your interests and talents? Can you see yourself building a successful career in medical office administration? If so, read on to the next section.
Learn more about Medical Office Administration training
Herzing College offers a Medical Office Administrator program at our Toronto, Ottawa, and Winnipeg campuses. The course includes a five-week internship. This training covers everything needed to get hired as an MOA right after graduation.
The best way to learn more about this program is to talk with an admissions advisor. They'll walk you through the courses, class schedule, tuition, and financial aid options—and help you understand application requirements (are you eligible to apply?)
Chat live with an advisor right now. Or click below to explore the program in more detail.