Like so many parts of Canada, Manitoba is experiencing increasing demands on its health care system.
As the population ages, we're seeing labour shortages for a wide range of health care jobs—spanning everything from physiotherapists to family physicians to orderlies to medical office staff.
Are you considering a career in health care, but don't want to spend years in university earning a degree? Interested in blending your natural organizational skills with front-line patient care? You could be an ideal candidate for medical office assistant (MOA) training.
In this post, we break down what an MOA does, employment opportunities in this field, and what to expect in MOA diploma programs. Read on to discover whether this career is a good fit for you, and exactly how to get started.
What does a Medical Office Assistant do?
Medical office assistants work in hospitals, medical clinics, extended care centres, and complementary health care offices (like chiropractors and physiotherapists).
This role combines administrative and clinical responsibilities. On the one hand, you would be responsible for office-related tasks, like scheduling appointments, greeting patients, processing billing, and maintaining inventory.
On the other hand, you'll be working directly with patients, measuring vital signs and assisting with minor medical procedures. Depending on where you work, and what your employer needs, your duties as a medical office assistant could include:
- handling the reception desk and doing patient intake
- appointment booking
- preparing clinical documents, including patient charts, records, histories, and reports
- medical transcription
- taking blood pressure
- conducting eye and ear assessments
- laboratory procedures
- processing billing and health insurance
MOAs need excellent organizational skills combined with a compassionate "bedside manner." You should be good with people, caring, patient, and calm under pressure.
The medical office assistant is usually the very first person a patient interacts with at the clinic or hospital. They are the "face" of the clinic, and play a key role in setting the tone and overall experience of each visit.
And since many people are anxious about seeing the doctor, or dealing with unwanted health issues, MOAs must take the time to be warm and friendly—while balancing the demands of a busy medical office. This is challenging role, and requires a blend of sensitivity and efficiency.
Stable Demand for Medical Office Assistants in Winnipeg
According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, Manitoba will need a steady stream of MOAs over the coming years, due to growth in the health care sector and waves of retirements.
The Job Bank is predicting consistent demand for this role over the next 10 years, throughout Manitoba and all across Canada (jobbank.gc.ca).
The Manitoba government also conducted research on local employment trends, and published them in a report called Manitoba Labour Market Occupational Forecasts 2018-2024.
In this report, "medical administrative assistant" is listed among the fastest growing occupations in the province.
There is no doubt that skilled MOAs are in demand. You can depend on stable employment opportunities in this field after college.
What is involved in Medical Office Assistant traininG?
Medical Office programs are quick to complete - most are under 12 months. Quality programs include an internship, where students can apply what they've learned in class and gain real-world experience before graduation.
For example, Herzing College Winnipeg offers a 9-month Medical Office Assistant Program that finishes with a 4-week internship at a local hospital or medical clinical.
Courses for the program include:
- human anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology
- health care office procedures (appointments, billing, reception duties, inventory control)
- preparing and maintaining clinical documents
- how to measure patient vital signs and assist with medical procedures
- medical asepsis and infection control
- radiology and diagnostic imaging
- ethical and legal responsibilities of MOAs
Next Steps: Choosing a Medical Office Assistant Program
If you're serious about pursuing medical office assistant training, your next step is to begin researching and comparing MOA programs in your area.
What should you be looking for? In addition to things like distance to campus, accreditation, and tuition costs, you'll want to take note of several key factors, including:☑️ MOA graduate employment rate: How many students get hired after completing the program? This statistic speaks to the quality of the training, the reputation of the college, and the effectiveness of career support services. Look for a graduate employment rate above 85%.
☑️ College track record & student reviews: How many years has the school been operating? Does it have a proven track record and positive student reviews? Look into the history of the college.
☑️ Admissions services: Does the admission team take the time to meet with you, and honestly assess whether you're suited to this program and career? You shouldn't feel any pressure to enroll. Instead, admissions should assess your strengths, weaknesses, career goals, and learning needs.
☑️ No-risk trial period: Can you try out a few MOA classes, to make sure the program is a good fit? Ask each college about whether they offer a no-risk trial period. This way, if you change your mind, you can withdraw from the program without losing any tuition dollars.
Important: Be sure to book a personal advising appointment, either in person or over the phone. Sit down with an Admissions Advisor and get all your questions answered.
The Advisor will also ask you questions to determine whether you meet admission requirements for the MOA program, and guide you through financial aid options.
Here's how your interview will work: What to Expect at Your Herzing College Admissions Interview
Ready to get started? Click below to explore Herzing's Medical Office Assistant program. You can request information by email, or chat live with an Admissions Advisor right now. We're here to help!