BlogHealth CareersThe Different Types of Medical Office Assistants

The Different Types of Medical Office Assistants

Medical Office Assistants are detail-oriented people responsible for performing a variety of office duties that smooth the medical processes in practice, clinics, and hospitals. These assistants work in a variety of places, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing homes.

When selecting a medical office assistant program, it is important to understand the two primary employment options. These include administrative medical assistant and clinical medical assistant. Both are important positions in this field, but they perform two two entirely different tasks.

Administrative Medical Assistant

Administrative Medical Assistants, also known as medical secretaries, perform administrative functions for a hospital or clinic using their knowledge of medical terminology and applications. They can work under other common job titles, such as unit secretary, patient coordinator, and admissions coordinator. 

This is a unique role, as it combines both direct and indirect patient care. Some of the responsibilities for Administrative Medical Assistants, including: checking patients in the front desk, answering the phone, scheduling appointments, reviewing case history and compiling medical records, processing insurance payments, and maintaining supplies and appearance of the office.

In order to excel in the field, there are some important skills that a professional should develop. The top technical skills for Administrative Medical Assistants includes:

  • Scheduling
  • Appointment Setting
  • Customer Service
  • Patient Care
  • Medical Terminology
  • Recordkeeping
  • Billing
  • Data Entry

Projected growth for the field is 10-15% for the next decade, meaning that this is a booming industry with great promise. The educational requirements are modest as well—most positions only require a high school diploma. National certification offers an advantage over other applicants.

Clinical Medical Assistant

If you opt to pursue the Clinical Medical Assistant career path, expect an emphasis on patient contact. Clinical Medical Assistants act as supportive staff alongside healthcare workers, both educating and caring for patients. Due to the fast-paced nature of the health industry, Clinical Medical Assistants are crucial to the daily operations of medical facilities.

Regular Clinical Medical Assistant responsibilities include:

  • Noting patient history and personal information
  • Helping doctors with patient exams
  • Measuring vital signs
  • Sterilizing medical instruments
  • Scheduling patient appointments
  • Preparing samples for lab tests

In general, a Clinical Medical Assistant, unlike an Administrative Medical Assistant, focuses on direct patient care, assisting physicians in both the office and the exam room. Their wide range of duties vary, depending on the location, specialty, and size of the practice. 


According to the National Healthcare Association (NHA), 75% of employers require, or encourage, certification for Medical Office Assistants. Certification helps demonstrate clinical skills and administrative knowledge, two important points that help both gain respect and maintain job security.

Certification also increases your employability and job options. It helps demonstrate your dedication in providing quality care, and promotes workplace excellence. There are currently a few states that require Medical Office Assistants to complete a formal program, including: Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Arizona. However, certification continues to trend towards a mandatory requirement, as it demonstrates proficiency and the likelihood of better job performance.

The Blackstone Difference

Medical Office Assistant training from Blackstone Career Institute offers you the quality education needed to prepare for a fulfilling career in this flexible and highly popular employment field. Our Medical Office Assistant training offers both knowledge of administrative and clinical skills, including an online simulated practice program using the same software used in most medical offices. 

Upon medical office assistant course completion, you will have the skill set needed to secure a job working as a Medical Office Assistant, and will be eligible to sit for certification exams.

For those interested in developing the skills listed above, Blackstone Career Institute also offers certificate training courses. Medical Office Procedures is a certificate course that explains the basics of managing the front office of a medical practice, clinic, or other healthcare setting. You will learn about legal and ethical issues, professionalism, communications, and common office procedures.

The Anatomy, Medical Terminology, and HIPAA certificate course is essential training for new starts in the healthcare field, or allied health workers that need a refresher. The course covers the terminology encountered in various medical fields, including body systems, related diseases, procedures, and abbreviations.