Wondering what it's like to become a medical office administrator (MOA)? Want to know more about training, careers, and getting started in this field?
Who better to talk to than Priscilla Grant? Priscilla recently completed the medical office administrator program at Herzing College Ottawa.
She went straight into a full-time medical office position after graduation and has transitioned very smoothly into her new career.
And she did it all while working part-time and caring for two children under the age of six!
We interviewed Priscilla earlier this month to learn more about her story and see how things are going at work.
Find out what Priscilla thought of Herzing's MOA program, her most and least favourite parts of training, and how she landed such a great job at Carefor Health and Community Services.
Here are the highlights from our conversation.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What were you doing before heading back to school?
Priscilla: I am originally from an island in the Caribbean called Saint Lucia. I spent most of my childhood there. At the age of 17, I graduated from high school and then went on to community college.
I graduated at the age of 19 with an associate degree in business administration. From there, I went to work as a receptionist at various organizations, including the Meteorological Office with the Ministry of Communications. But at that point I decided I wanted more.
So I applied for school in the United States. I received a partial academic scholarship to attend Grambling State University in Louisiana, where I earned a bachelor's degree in computer science.
After I graduated in 2011, I moved to Canada to be with my family.
I chose to take some time off from furthering my studies because I met my husband and we were starting a family. My son was hospitalized a few times after birth, so I decided to stay at home until he was better.
After having my second child three years later, I realized that I liked caring for others and wanted a career in the medical field. That's what led me back to school.
Q: Why did you choose the medical office administrator program? What attracted you to this particular healthcare career?
Priscilla: I chose the medical office administrator program because I love helping people, but I am scared of needles and not fond of body fluids. So becoming a nurse or doctor wasn't right for me.
Plus, in the future, I may combine my knowledge of computer science with my medical office training to pursue a career in medical computer systems security. I may decide later to stay with medical office administration or move on to the security aspect of it. Only time will tell!
Q: There are several healthcare colleges in Ottawa. Why did you choose Herzing?
Priscilla: I chose Herzing because it fit with my busy life. It was the closest college to my home, work, and kids’ school. I had a very good experience during admissions. I met with Isabelle Copeland. She made me feel welcome, she listened to what I wanted, and she gave me good advice.
Q: Can you tell us about your experience in the MOA program? What made the biggest impact on you?
Priscilla: I had a very good experience in the MOA program. I loved some of my instructors, such as Craig Kennedy. He was amazing with Microsoft Office courses. Doing those courses was more like a revision for me, but I loved it anyway. His classes were fun and engaging.
Another instructor I enjoyed having was Ellie Rock. She helped me get my cover letter and resume to a professional level.
Bob Orser was amazing with medical terminology, too. I thought I would not do well, but because he was an amazing instructor, he taught me to understand what all those terms meant. He took the time to answer all our questions.
What impacted me most about the MOA program were the instructors. They really understood me and my drive to do well.
Q: What was the most challenging part of medical office administrator training for you?
Priscilla: The most challenging part of training was balancing my time.
I went to school full time, worked part time, and had homework to complete every night, plus I was taking care of my two young children (six and three years old).
My motivation was to get a good job and provide for my family.
Q: And the best part of training? What aspect did you enjoy most?
Priscilla: I liked the hands-on work. If I'm just watching and listening, I tend to get bored. But we did a lot of hands-on, practical assignments. It really helped me get a better understanding of the material. And the instructors were there to help out whenever I had questions.
Q: Can you tell us about the internship? Where did you do your work placement and what was it like?
Priscilla: I did my internship at Carefor Health and Community Services. I worked in the medical records department. I retrieved files for discharged occupational and physical therapy clients to be boxed and shipped to a storage location.
I started with three sections for each program, each having five shelves filled with files. At the end of the four-week internship, I was able to make 59 boxes on my own. I spent two weeks on each program.
Q: Was it hard to find your first job after graduation? Where are you working now?
Priscilla: While I was at my placement, I saw there were job vacancies. So, I applied, and on my last day of the internship, I got a call to come in for an interview. After the interview, I was offered the job and started working at Carefor Health and Community Services full time as a Client Service Coordinator.
Q: In your opinion, what are the most important skills to become a medical office administrator?
Priscilla: I believe hard work and having a great personality will get anyone anywhere. Also, being able to work well with others is a tremendous skill to have in the medical office field.
Q: Any words of advice for someone who’s considering this career path? Would you recommend Herzing’s MOA diploma as a good first step?
Priscilla: Yes, I would recommend Herzing as a good first step. My best advice to anyone who’s considering this career path would be to come ready to work and have a positive attitude.
Anything worth having is worth working hard for!
Learn more about Herzing's MOA Diploma Program
Herzing College Ottawa offers a 10-month medical office administration diploma that includes a four-week internship.
This program teaches all the knowledge and skills needed to start a medical office career, including clinic software, administrative procedures, and patient records management.
Is Herzing's MOA diploma program right for you?
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