Updated January 2023
Naturally drawn to working in an office environment? Feel you would do well in a structured setting where organizational, communication, customer service, and teamwork skills are highly valued?
Let's say you're also interested in a career where you can help others and feel that you're actually contributing something positive to your community. If you're pulled in this direction, it's quite possible that you're torn between a medical office and business office admin program.
After all, these work settings (and training paths) have quite a lot in common. Which one will ultimately suit you best and be most rewarding?
Let's take a look at some of the key differences and similarities between business and medical office administration.
Serving the Public & Giving Back
Both medical office admin and business administration training emphasize the importance of customer service. In a business setting, this could play out in a client services or sales role or involve working with a government agency or non-profit organization.
Not all business training leads to corporate jobs. Some graduates use the skills learned in college to start their own business, which could certainly focus on helping others within the community.
With business training, the career outcomes are quite diverse and flexible. There is definitely room to pursue roles that offer a chance to give back.
With medical office administration, the path to public service is a bit more straightforward. As a member of the clinic admin team, you'll play a direct role in connecting patients with the healthcare services they need.
Working primarily at reception, you're the first point of contact for patients and a key factor in their overall experience at the hospital or clinic.
In some cases, you'll actually perform minor medical procedures, such as taking blood pressure or measuring vital signs. Medical office administrators provide a direct and essential community service, and typically characterize this aspect of their work as deeply rewarding.
Comparing key tasks & skills
This is where the distinction between managing a business office and a medical clinic is perhaps most obvious. There are of course similarities between the procedures and skills involved in running both kinds of offices, which we'll look at first. These include:
- Maintaining filing systems
- Scheduling appointments and coordinating schedules for colleagues
- Handling inquiries by phone, email, and in person
- Handling client billing
- Working with office software (word processing, databases, spreadsheets, presentation tools, etc.)
- Managing inventory
Key differences emerge when we look at the specific nature of these responsibilities in both settings—and additional tasks that are unique to business and medical offices. For example, students who choose business administration training will also learn:
- Computerized accounting and payroll software
- Business mathematics
- Marketing principles
- Accounting principles and procedures (how to initiate and complete the accounting cycle for service and merchandising businesses)
On the other hand, students in medical admin programs study concepts that delve deeper into the specifics of health care delivery, such as :
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Medical terminology
- Specific health care computer software
- Medical transcription
In terms of fundamental skills, both work settings place a strong emphasis on customer service, organizational skills, grace under pressure, and good judgment.
Where do office admin and clinical admin diverge the most?
In the area of services—the nature of the services you provide, and whom you will serve. Students who choose a medical office admin program should be ready to:
- Serve people who are dealing with health challenges and emergencies
- Perform simple medical procedures on adults, children, and seniors
- Discuss symptoms with patients (to help prioritize appointments and identify emergencies)
- Handle a busy waiting room, where patients may be anxious and impatient
On the other hand, students who pursue business administration training should be ready to:
- Help clients resolve issues with specific products or services
- Serve the needs of management (by scheduling appointments, fielding calls, preparing documents, setting up for meetings, etc.)
- Handle general inquiries or complaints via phone and digital channels (website, email, and social media)
- Serve the needs of colleagues by providing general office help (preparing memos, photocopies, handling reception, contributing ideas, etc.)
Which office setting sounds like the best fit for your natural interests, type of people skills, and career goals?
Still uncertain? Your next step is to speak with admissions. An admissions advisor will help you decide which program is your best fit.
Chat live with an advisor right now. Or request free information by email. We're here to help!