Clinical Office Assistant: Employment Info & Requirements

Explore the work responsibilities of a clinical office assistant. Learn about education requirements, necessary skills, salary and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for Clinical Office Assistants

Clinical office assistants perform routine administrative and clinical tasks to keep medical offices running effectively and efficiently. Clinical office assistants are often employed in doctor's offices, clinics, and outpatient care facilities. Typical administrative duties of a clinical office assistant include answering phones, greeting patients, updating patient medical records, filling out and processing insurance forms, scheduling appointments, arranging for hospital admissions or lab work, billing, and bookkeeping. Light clinical duties include taking patients' vital signs, performing simple lab tests, changing dressings, and explaining treatment instructions to patients.

Education High school diploma or GED; associate's degree will improve employment opportunities
Job Skills Multitasking, managing information, methodical and focused
Median Salary $30,590 (2015) for medical assistants
Career Outlook 23% (2014-2024) for medical assistants

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

While some places of employment may require only a high school diploma, an associate's degree in medical assisting will improve your career outlook in clinical office assisting. A 2-year, associate's degree could include coursework in medical assisting science, pharmacology, medical office procedures, medical coding, medical insurance, and medical office software applications. Experience in office or clinical work will be helpful for starting a career as a clinical office assistant.

Skills Required

Clinical office assistants must manage large amounts of patient information, including insurance and billing information, appointment times, and medical records. To be successful, it's critical that clinical office assistants be methodical, focused, and able to multitask effectively.

Employment and Economic Outlook

Clinical office assistants fall under the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics category of medical assistants; the job outlook for this field is excellent, with employment expected to grow by 23% from 2014-2024. Earnings will vary by skill level and tasks performed, but the median annual earnings in May 2015 for medical assistants, including clinical office assistants, were $30,590.

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Alternative Careers

Related career choices include:

Medical Secretary

Those who want to focus on administrative tasks instead of providing basic medical care should consider a career as a medical secretary. Secretaries that work in medical offices and clinics perform duties that include scheduling procedures and hospital admissions, completing and submitting insurance claims, transcribing physician dictations and creating reports. Earning a high school diploma and completing some coursework in medical terminology and procedures is generally how someone gains employment in this field of work. However, most training usually occurs on the job. Medical secretaries received a median yearly wage of $33,040, as seen in BLS figures from May 2015.

Licensed Practical Nurse

For those who want less clerical duties and more patient care responsibilities, becoming a licensed practical nurse may be the right fit. Practical nurses discuss care with patients, take vitals, record medical histories, administer medications, bandage wounds and perform other basic medical procedures under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. Specialized vocational training at a technical school or community college is required to enter this profession, and all states require practical nurses to be licensed. This involves completing an approved education program and passing the National Council Licensure Examination. According to the BLS, a 16% increase in job opportunities for licensed practical and vocational nurses is projected during the 2014-2024 decade. In 2015, the BLS also determined the median salary for these professionals to be $43,170.

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