How to Become a Medical Office Assistant in 5 Simple Steps

Updated January 2024

Want a career in healthcare that involves working directly with patients but doesn't require a university degree? Looking to work in a professional setting where you can use your excellent organization and people skills?

Medical office administration could be a good fit.

This role combines office management with front-line patient care. You can work at a hospital, private clinic, or nursing home as an important member of the health care team.

But what exactly does this position involve? What will it take to start your career?

Follow these five simple steps to learn more about the field. Find out if becoming a medical office assistant is right for you and how to get started.


1. learn what a Medical Office Assistant really does

A lot of people start training for a career without a clear understanding of what they'll actually be doing on the job. They have a general sense of what the role involves—but in many cases, students are missing key information about daily tasks, required skills, and common challenges they will face at work.

Your first step? Make sure you have an accurate description of what a medical office assistant (MOA) does, including daily tasks and important skills.

Your responsibilities will vary a bit, depending on where you work. An MOA performs different tasks at a hospital versus doctor's office or dental practice versus nursing home.

However, there are primary duties you can expect to perform in most health office environments. These include:

  • Greeting incoming patients
  • Answering phones and responding to emails
  • Handling new patient intake
  • Filling out patient charts and requisition forms
  • Scheduling appointments using health office software
  • Updating and organizing confidential files and records
  • Assisting with minor medical procedures 
  • Ordering clinic supplies when needed (inventory management)
  • Setting up for staff meetings, taking minutes, etc.
  • Doing medical transcription
  • Processing billing and insurance claims

Clinics are usually quite busy and fast-paced. It takes quick thinking, excellent organization, and really strong people skills to do this job well.

If you look at job postings for medical office assistants, you will see the following skills highlighted every time:

  • Problem solving
  • Friendliness and a positive attitude
  • Multitasking 
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced setting
  • Strong knowledge of health office software

Bottom line: You'll need to be efficient and move quickly while maintaining a warm and welcoming atmosphere at the health office. MOAs are the face of the clinic. No matter how busy your day gets, you'll need to treat each patient with care and respect.


2. Research demand for Medical office assistants where you live

Before you move forward with training, it's important to research the employment outlook for medical office administrators in your area.

For example, if there's very little demand for MOAs where you live, you can expect tough competition when applying for work—and it might take longer to find your first position after graduation.

Knowing who is hiring the most MOAs (hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities?) will help you set realistic goals for your first job after school.

Start by checking out the Government of Canada Job Bank. They post employment reports for thousands of occupations all across the country. 

The latest data on medical administrative assistants shows that these professionals have good-to-very-good employment prospects across most of Canada, including Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, and BC.

We also recommend looking at local job websites, like IndeedWorkopolis, Simply Hired, and Glassdoor. Do a search for "medical office administrator" or "medical office assistant" and see how many job postings there are in your city.

Compare positions and look at the training and skills employers want. This is a great way to find out who is hiring, and what credentials you'll need to land your first job.


3. Learn about Medical Office Assistant training

You know what the job involves, and you've seen the latest career outlook report. Now it's time to research medical office administration training and figure out what's involved in earning your diploma.

Several colleges across Canada offer medical office administrator programs. You can expect to complete your training in 12 months or less.

A quality program will teach you the clinical, clerical, and communication skills you need to land a good job after graduation. At Herzing, our MOA program covers topics like:

  • Medical terminology
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, etc.)
  • Health office software (such as ABEL MED)
  • Medical office procedures
  • How to prepare clinical documents (patient charts and histories, requisition forms to order tests, etc.)
  • Transcription
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Communication techniques
  • Professional ethics

Our program also includes an internship that gives you real work experience in a health office. You will gain confidence, learn new skills, and connect with a possible employer. Many of our MOA graduates get hired straight out of their internship.


4. Find a healthcare college that fits your needs

Now you know what to expect in MOA training. At this point, it's time to narrow down your options and find a college that fits your needs.

Are you looking for part-time medical office training? Would you prefer a school that offers evening classes? Do you need a college you can reach easily by public transit?

Make a list of your priorities and consider other important factors, such as:

  • College reputation, student reviews
  • Guaranteed practicum/work placement (not every school offers this)
  • Class schedule

5. Speak to an Admissions Advisor

Before you enrol in a medical office administration program, you'll need to speak with an admissions advisor. The advisor will book your admissions test and help you with the application process.

This is also your chance to ask more detailed questions about the MOA training and college in general. You can discuss your goals, talk about class scheduling options, and make sure the program is right for you.


want to learn more?

Get started by exploring Herzing's MOA program.

Click below to see program details and chat live with an advisor. Get your career started today!

Explore the Online MOA Program

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