Updated January 2023
Landing your first job after medical office training is a major accomplishment. But next comes the real challenge: settling into your new role, learning how the medical team likes things done, and of course, getting to know the patients you'll be working with.
It's a time of transition and learning, but also an opportunity to put into practice everything you've learned during MOA training. So what kinds of challenges can you expect to face as a freshly graduated, newly employed medical office administrator?
Take a look at five of the most common hurdles.
1. Adapting to established medical office procedures
Will your first MOA position be at a hospital? A dental clinic? A private doctor's office? Each facility will have its own particular approach to everyday office procedures.
You already learned procedural fundamentals in medical office training, such as inventory control, file management, billing, reception duties, and how to use healthcare software—but your employer will likely have a customized routine that you will need to learn during your first few weeks.
This is true of almost every kind of job. Remember that your classroom training and internship have prepared you with exactly the right skillset. You simply have to build on that foundation and tailor it to suit the unique needs of the medical team and patients you work with.
2. Getting the hang of appointment booking
Effective appointment booking is a bit of an art form. Each clinic has their own approach to handling typical challenges, such as:
- Particularly busy times of year (flu season!)
- The extra time needed to onboard new patients
- Doctors who habitually run behind schedule
By the time you graduate from medical office training, you'll have mastered the basics of booking software, so using the computer system won't be the primary challenge. It will simply be a matter of learning the routines and preferences of your new medical team (and patients) and fine-tuning your approach to scheduling so that everything runs smoothly.
3. Managing the waiting room
Nobody likes getting stuck in the clinic waiting room. Whether it's a doctor running behind schedule or an emergency causing the delay, some of your patients will quickly lose their cool as the wait time gets longer.
Others may be feeling anxious about their appointment, illness, or condition, or may be in pain. The bottom line? Clinic and hospital wait rooms are not fun places to be, and part of your role is to make the waiting experience as pleasant as possible.
This means handling upset patients with a firm but compassionate approach, being up front about additional wait times, and maintaining a friendly, empathetic attitude.
4. Multitasking with patients and medical staff
Your internship will give you a good sense of how busy clinics can get, and how skilled MOAs juggle incoming tasks and requests. As you settle into your first job, it will take a little time to adjust to the pace of your particular work environment.
With experience, you will learn how to quickly sort and prioritize tasks that come in simultaneously. For example, a phone call, a request for a file, and a patient who approaches reception with a question or need—all at the same time.
5. Building rapport with patients
Medical office administrators are the face of the clinic. You are the first person a patient sees when they arrive and the last person they see on their way out. You will handle patient intake, field questions by phone, and decide whether emergency intervention may be needed.
In many clinics, MOAs also assist with simple medical procedures, like checking vital signs, taking blood pressure, and drawing blood for testing.
From greeting incoming patients to booking appointments to soothing a child who is nervous around needles—this role is all about building rapport.
As you ease into your new job, you will get to know the patients, medical team, and general tone of the clinic. You will develop your own communication style and start building relationships with those you work with.
This may be a challenge, but it's also an opportunity to let your personality shine through, and bring warmth to the medical practice where you work. You can truly make a difference in how patients and other staff members feel as they arrive at the clinic each day.
Excited about starting your new healthcare career? Haven't begun medical office training yet, and looking for a top-rated program?
Consider the Medical Office Administration program offered by Herzing College at the Ottawa and Toronto campuses. Click below to explore a detailed list of medical office courses or to chat live with a friendly advisor. We're here to help!