Summary of this post: Find out exactly what you'll be doing at work as a Medical Office Assistant. We explain the daily routine, important tasks, and life on-the-job as an MOA.
Do you look forward to your doctor and dentist appointments? Probably not. In fact, if you’re like most people, you find the whole process pretty stressful. Let’s face it—the clinic isn’t really our favourite place to be.
But a skilled and friendly Medical Office Assistant (MOA) can make a huge difference when you're feeling anxious.
MOAs are the first person we interact with at our appointments, and they can set the tone for the whole visit.
They do a lot of important work, up front and behind-the-scenes, to ensure the clinic runs smoothly and feels less stressful.
Kelley Khemiri has worked as an MOA in Winnipeg for 14 years and is also an MOA instructor. She explains the role this way:
“Medical Office Assistants run the front desk, schedule appointments, answer calls, direct patients, updates charts, and assist physicians. It’s also their job to make patients feel welcome and taken care of. It’s all about time-management, teamwork, and great communication skills.”
Your daily routine will vary a bit, depending on where you work (type of clinic, hospital, etc.). But there are certain procedures you will perform on a regular basis, no matter where you work.
Here's a look at a typical day for a Medical Office Assistant.
Get ready for the day by reviewing the appointment schedule
If you’re starting first thing in the morning, your first step is to log into your computer and open your healthcare software.
Healthcare software (like Accuro) is used for many tasks, including appointment scheduling, billing, updating patient files, and accessing forms.
You will check today’s schedule and see what kinds of appointments you have, which patients are coming in, etc.
Next, you will prepare those patients’ charts and have them ready for when the clinic opens.
Prepare the examination rooms
The next step is to ensure the examination rooms are clean, organized, and equipped with necessary supplies.
This includes wiping down the beds, lining them with disposable paper, and checking on the supply of needles, swabs, paper towel, requisition forms, and any other essential items.
It’s important to make sure the physician has everything they need on hand, so they don’t have to go searching for supplies in the middle of an appointment.
You will repeat this task after each appointment, to keep the rooms clean and organized throughout the day.
Check and return any phone or email messages
Now it’s time to check your messages and see if there are any patient requests or instructions from the physician.
You will need to check both email and phone messages and deal with any urgent issues right away.
Greet incoming patients and collect their information
Medical Office Assistants usually arrive early to complete the above tasks before the clinic opens. This way, they can get organized and prepare the clinic before patients arrive.
Once the clinic is open, it’s time to greet and check-in patients. If it’s a new patient or walk-in, you’ll need to register them and collect their information.
If it’s an urgent matter, you will need to connect the patient with a physician as quickly as possible. Medical Office Assistants often do triage, which means sorting patients by degree of urgency to decide who needs to see the doctor first.
Measure patients’ vital signs
MOAs are trained to perform vital signs such as height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, and visual acuity.
Before the patient has their appointment, you will check their vital signs and record the information for the physician.
Assist with minor medical procedures
Throughout the day, you may be asked to assist with minor medical procedures. MOAs can perform pregnancy tests, collect urine samples, process swab samples, cytology slides, and assist with minor surgery and physical exams.
They are also trained to collect blood, tissue, or other laboratory specimens, log the specimens, and prepare them for testing. This is the clinical side of the job.
In Manitoba, Medical Office Assistants are well trained in clinical procedures. Not all provinces provide this level of training. MOA instructor, Kelley Khemiri explains:
“Today's employers are seeking MOAs with strong clinical skills. The benefit of doing your Medical Office Assistant training in Manitoba is our clinical skills component.
In Manitoba, we teach our MOAs how to complete vitals, from height and weight to blood pressure and lab testing techniques.
Our Medical Office Assistants are highly sought after for these clinical skills, which is why we have fought to keep (and expand) this essential skill base in our training programs.”
Answer incoming calls and schedule appointments
You will be answering calls and scheduling appointments throughout the day. Depending on where you work, you may have to leave space in the physician’s schedule for walk-ins. Or juggle appointments to make room for emergencies.
Sometimes, MOAs deliberately leave extra space in the doctor’s schedule for last-minute appointments. It all depends on the procedures followed at your clinic.
Make appointment reminder calls
Most clinics remind patients about upcoming appointments. You might do this via email or over the phone. You want to make sure each patient knows the date and time of their appointment, to avoid confusion or absences in the doctor’s schedule.
Process billing and insurance
Processing billing and insurance is part of your daily routine as an MOA. You’ll be working with physician billing numbers, group numbers, specialty codes, public health plans and private insurance providers.
MOA training will help you learn the correct procedures for different types of billing.
Transcribe medical documents
Not every MOA job involves transcription, but it’s a requirement for some positions. Transcription involves listening to voice recordings of physician notes and typing them out as text documents.
You could be asked to transcribe notes from emergency room visits, diagnostic imaging results, operations, and chart reviews.
This involves using transcription software and requires good knowledge of medical terminology. A quality Medical Office Assistant course teaches these skills.
Close the clinic & prepare for tomorrow
As the day winds down and the last patients leave, it’s time to get ready for tomorrow!
This is when you’ll finish up paperwork, return calls, and clean up. Many MOAs wipe down examination beds and tidy up the clinic before they close, so they have less to do the following morning.
Conclusion: It's all about organization
Clinics are busy places, so staying organized is key for Medical Office Assistants. MOAs stick to a regular daily routine, which is designed around the needs of the clinic, doctors, and patients.
They plan ahead, pay attention to details, and think on their feet. This is a challenging role, but also very rewarding.
MOAs truly make a difference in our lives and are essential members of the health care team!
Still have questions about becoming a Medical Office Assistant?
If you have questions about life as an MOA, we suggest talking with someone who works in the field. You can ask them about their experience, pros and cons of the career, and what to expect in training.
Don’t know any Medical Office Assistants? Take a look at this interview with our own Kelley Khemiri.
Kelley has worked as an MOA in hospitals and clinics, and now teaches the Medical Office Assistant program at Herzing College Winnipeg. She’s a real expert in the field and has plenty of advice for new students.
Or you can click below to explore the MOA program for yourself and learn more about careers. We're here to help!