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Medical Administrative Specialist: Education Requirements and Career Info

Medical administrative specialists, also known as medical assistants, medical secretaries or information technicians, handle the administrative duties at a medical office. In addition to the general clerical duties, such as patient scheduling and correspondence, medical administrative specialists keep records, handle insurance billing and transcribe medical reports.

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Education Requirements for Medical Administrative Specialists

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) most medical assistants receive their training on-the-job; however, completion of an associate degree or certificate program may be required for some positions. Since these positions combine general administrative duties with clinical duties, students may consider degree and certificate programs that cover related areas.

Medical assistant and administrative medical specialist programs may include coursework in areas such as medical ethics, insurance coding, record keeping, accounting and computer skills. Additional courses in medical transcription or in a specific field, such as chiropractic care or hematology, can also be beneficial for students pursuing work in a smaller, specialized practice.

Certification

Certification exams are given by a variety of professional organizations, including the American Association of Medical Assistants, American Heart Association and National Healthcareer Association. In addition to general administrative assistant certification, specialty options also exist in assistant areas of optometry, phlebotomy or podiatry.

Career Information for Medical Administrative Specialists

Medical specialists may consider employment in health care environments, which include hospitals, care facilities and private practices. The BLS notes that roughly 527,600 medical assistants were employed in the U.S. in 2010, with an expected 31% employment growth from 2010-2020. This growth may be due to workers leaving this position, as well as the growing number of clinics, health care facilities and practices opening across the country.

The median annual salary was $29,370 as recently as May 2012 for this position, with psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals paying the highest average wage at that time of $42,250 per year, according to the BLS.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics