How to Become a Medical Executive Assistant

Mar 10, 2020

Learn how to become a medical executive assistant. Research the education, career requirements, and experience needed for starting a career as a medical executive assistant.

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Medical Executive Assistant Career Info

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent; associate degree may be required
Degree Field Medical administrative specialist/assistant
Experience Up to five years of experience as a medical secretary usually required for an executive position
Licensure/Certification Voluntary certification is available
Key Skills Good organizational, interpersonal, and writing skills; strong computer skills including word processing, spreadsheet, and database management; understanding and familiarity with medical terminology and procedures
Salary $33,610 (2018 median salary for all medical assistants)

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

Medical executive assistants perform high-level administrative duties for doctors and medical scientists. Tasks of a medical executive assistant include reviewing documents and reports, conducting research, transcribing dictation, and scheduling appointments. Medical executive assistants must have knowledge of insurance and billing practices, medical terminology, and laboratory procedures.

Medical executive assistants work in an office setting within healthcare facilities. They are employed full-time, though night and weekend hours may be required of those who work in offices that are always open, such as hospitals. There is a risk of exposure to infectious diseases while working as a medical assistant. Those that focus on administrative duties, however, have little to no contact with patients. These professionals should have good organizational skills; strong interpersonal and writing skills; strong computer skills; knowledge of word processing, spreadsheet, and database management; and an understanding and familiarity with medical terminology and procedures. Medical assistants in general earned a median annual salary of $33,610 in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Gain Experience and Training

Medical executive assistants often begin their careers as secretaries in a doctor's office or other medical facility. Experience in a medical environment and getting familiar with medical terminology, laboratory procedures, and insurance and billing processes are all useful to this career. High school students interested in becoming a medical assistant can take relevant courses offered by their school, such as biology, chemistry, and anatomy.

Enroll in a Postsecondary Training Program

Administrative assistants at all levels are increasingly required to receive a postsecondary education. Medical administrative assistant programs are available at the certificate and associate's degree levels. Such programs provide training in anatomy and physiology, medical office procedures, records management, medical transcription, and medical language. Particular emphasis is placed on office applications, keyboarding, and records handling. Certificate programs can take as little as three months to complete, while associate's degree programs take about two years to finish.

Medical administrative assistant programs often include internship opportunities that can provide students with supervised experience assisting medical staff. The internship can take place at a local medical office and may span an entire semester.

Customer service and polite communication skills are key to medical administrative assistant positions, so students may wish to take communication courses during their program. Assistants also need to correspond with patients through writing, so developing these skills through an English or writing class might be beneficial.

Obtain Employment

Even if a student graduates from a program that emphasizes medical administrative assistance, many employers still require applicants to have about five years of experience before taking on an executive position. Some medical facilities specialize in a certain area, such as podiatry, orthopedics, or pediatrics, so medical secretaries or administrative assistants may need to choose a field they wish to work and advance in.

Get Certified

Although it's an optional choice, certification may help medical assistants advance to executive roles. The National Health Career Association allows professionals who have completed a training program or worked for one year in the field to take an exam to become a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant.

Aspiring medical assistants who want to take on more administrative roles in a medical office may want to consider earning a certificate or associate's degree in the field before gaining hands-on experience in an actual healthcare office.

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