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Hospital Administrative Assistant: Career Info and Requirements

Learn about the work responsibilities of a hospital administrative assistant. Explore educational requirements, salary, necessary skills and job outlook to make an informed career decision.

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Career Definition for a Hospital Administrative Assistant

Hospital administrative assistants greet patients, schedule appointments and meetings, assist doctors with correspondence and bill patients and insurance companies. In some hospitals, the position also involves taking medical histories and performing basic laboratory procedures, such as collecting blood and urine samples for analysis.

Education High school diploma is the minimum requirement; post-secondary training from vocational schools or a college degree is becoming more common
Job Skills Interpersonal, keyboard, customer service, and excellent spelling
Median Pay (May 2015)* $33,040 (medical secretaries)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 21% (medical secretaries)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Required Education

A high-school diploma is the minimum education for entering the field. However, hospital administrative assistants increasingly have post-secondary training from vocational schools or associate's or bachelor's degrees. Vocational programs in office administration typically take one year or less to complete, while A.A. degrees are generally 2-year programs and B.A. degrees in office administration, medical administration and related fields take at least four years to complete. In addition to courses in office administration and software programs, hospital administrative assistants often have taken classes in medical terminology and health care regulations.

Skills Required

The International Association of Administrative Professionals, www.iahp-hq.org, emphasizes that interpersonal skills are the most important attributes for all administrative assistants to have. Day-to-day written communication requires excellent spelling, grammar and keyboard skills. As the first people that patients typically encounter during a hospital visit or on the phone, hospital administrative assistants should have excellent customer service skills.

Career and Economic Outlook

Job opportunities for administrative assistants and medical secretaries will grow by 3% and 21% respectively from 2014 to 2024 with the expected expansion of the health care field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Hospital administrative assistants with bachelor's degrees or additional clinical training have the greatest opportunities for advancing into other fields, such as clinical and medical assistance. In 2015, the BLS, reported that the median annual salary for medical secretaries was $33,040.

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Alternative Careers

Hospital administrative assistants may eventually take on additional responsibilities in the following alternative career options:

Medical Assistant

For those desiring more patient care responsibilities in addition to clerical tasks at a doctor's office, becoming a medical assistant may be a good career move. Medical assistants answer phones, record patient information in medical files, help with insurance billing, and schedule appointments and procedures. They also may sterilize equipment, administer injections, put together lab specimens, check vitals and help doctors with patient examinations and procedures.

To qualify for employment, it may be necessary to earn a certificate or associate degree in medical assisting. Some employers also may require professional certification, which involves passing an exam and completing an accredited education program. As projected by the BLS, medical assistants can expect job opportunities to increase by 23% between 2014 and 2024. These medical workers earned a median income of $30,590 in 2015, as reported by the BLS.

Health Services Manager

If coordinating the administrative activities at a hospital or other healthcare facility sounds interesting, consider a career in health services management. Depending on the type of facility, these managers might perform duties such as making staff assignments, preparing budgets, overseeing building maintenance, ensuring quality and safety procedures are followed and exploring ways to improve efficiency.

A bachelor's degree in healthcare administration or a related field is required to work in this profession, but many health services managers have earned a master's degree in public administration, business or health services. They also have extensive work experience. Nursing home administrators must be licensed in all states and some states also require assisted-living facility administrators to obtain licensure. Employment in the field of health services management is predicted to grow by 17% from 2014-2024, as stated by the BLS. In May of 2015, the BLS reported that these managers received a median annual salary of $94,500.

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