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Health Care Administrative Assistants: Job Outlook and Career Info

Read on to learn more about what health care administrative assistants do. Find out what the education and training requirements are, and discover if this career field is a good fit for you.

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Career Definition

Health care administrative assistants provide clerical support to physicians and executives in health care facilities, including doctors' offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and health care maintenance organizations. They perform a variety of duties, depending on the type of department and size of facility. In smaller offices, they may make appointments, greet patients, collect insurance information, issue billing, and process payments. In larger settings, they may be assigned to a department to perform tasks such as medical transcription or maintenance of patient records.

Become a Health Care Administrative Assistant

Required Education

Entry-level positions generally require a high school diploma or associate's degree, but a bachelor's degree may be needed for advancement. Some employers require an associate's degree from a medical administration program that includes coursework in medical terminology, coding, billing, insurance, and transcription. Employers may also require certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and Basic Life Support. Higher-level positions may require a bachelor's degree with courses in business administration.

Skills Required

Health care administrative assistants must be highly organized with very strong word processing, data entry, and phone skills. They may also need to be familiar with medical billing programs and medical terminology, such as that found in the manual of Current Procedural Technology (CPT) published by the American Medical Association. People in this career must be able to work accurately, often in hectic, fast-paced offices. Good verbal and written communication skills are essential so that they can interact with patients, medical staff, and coworkers. Multiple language skills are also a plus.

Economic Outlook and Career Projections

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) expects jobs for health care administrative assistants to increase by 36% - more than twice the average growth rate for all other occupations - for the 2012-2022 period. Job growth is expected to be strongest in smaller settings, such as physicians' and dentists' offices, rather than hospitals. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for health care administrative assistants was $31,350 in 2012.

Alternative Career Options

Medical Records and Health Information Technician

A medical records and health information technician typically works in a hospital or medical office and is responsible for the integrity and security of paper and electronic medical records. They organize and classify patient records for insurance and data collection purposes, as well as general storage and access by health care professionals when needed to treat patients. Some medical records and health information technicians specialize in medical coding, while others specialize in working as cancer registrars. Employers may consider candidates with a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree; voluntary professional certification is also highly desired. The predicted employment growth rate for this occupation is double the predicted national average for all jobs from 2012-2022 - 22% versus 11%, according to the BLS. People in this job earned median pay of $34,160 in 2012, reported the BLS.

Medical Transcriptionist

A medical transcriptionist uses training received as part of a certificate or associate's degree program in medical transcription to write out a health care professional's dictated speech. Medical transcriptionists record doctors' verbal reports about diagnoses, tests, referrals, and related matters. They also review transcribed material, making edits and corrections as needed, before sending completed reports to physicians for final approval. Medical transcriptionists may earn voluntary professional certification. Jobs in this career field are predicted to increase 8% from 2012-2022, according to the BLS. Medical transcriptionists earned median pay of $34,020 in 2012.

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