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Doctor's Office Manager: Job Duties & Career Requirements

A doctor's office manager ensures a well-run practice for both physicians and patients in strict compliance with health care laws. Duties may include management of administrative staff, billing, dispute resolution, and general office management. Read on to learn about the training, salary, and employment outlook to see if this career appeals to you.

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Career Definition

Doctor's office managers, sometimes referred to as medical office managers, oversee the business operations of a doctor's office. Their responsibilities are broad in scope and highly dependent on the size of the practice. Health care is a complicated, highly regulated industry and they spend much of their time ensuring legal compliance and mediating billing issues.

In a group practice, office managers hire, train and supervise the work of other administrative staff, such as the medical receptionist and biller. They oversee billing procedures, monitor patient scheduling policy, serve as an IT liaison, contract with outside services such as medical waste disposal companies, and maintain office space conducive to patient preferences. They also must perform the duties of a general office manager, which include general financial management, according to the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM, www.pahcom.com).

Becoming a Doctor's Office Manager

Required Education

While there is no specific education requirement, most practices require some formal education due to the increasing complexity of the health care system. Large practices require a bachelor's degree in business administration while an associate degree is sufficient for many smaller practices. Those wishing to pursue this field should supplement their business education with coursework in medical billing, medical terminology and general physician practice management.

Skills Required

Doctor's office managers must be extremely organized, detail-oriented, and have the ability to handle multiple priorities. They also must excel at resolving conflict, which is a common occurrence in health care.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), employment of medical and health services managers, which includes doctor's office managers, is expected to grow faster than average from 2012 to 2022. Salaries vary by practice size and specialty. However, the mean annual salary was $98,460 in May 2012, per the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Insurance Underwriter

A bachelor's degree is required for some insurance underwriting positions, while related work experience and strong computer skills may suffice in some cases. Insurance underwriters decide whether to provide insurance to applicants and determine the terms of those insurances and set premium amounts. A decline in employment growth was projected by the BLS for underwriters, from 2012-2022, due mainly to automated software being used to process applications. The BLS reported average earnings of $69,200 for these professionals in 2012.

Human Resources Manager

Most human resources managers have earned at least a bachelor's degree in human resources, business administration, or another related field. Work experience, advanced degrees, and certifications are also positives for many positions. Human resources managers coordinate all the administrative functions in businesses and organizations, while serving as a go-between among management and employees. The BLS projected 13% expansion of these jobs, from 2012-2022, and reported an annual average salary of $109,590 as of May 2012.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics