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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Medical Office Assistant

medical office assistant working in a medical office with other healthcare professionals

Medical office assistant jobs are expected to grow in the coming years and can be a rewarding career for many joining the field. From 2019 to 2023, it was forecasted that medical office assistant jobs will have an above average outlook in employment growth in Alberta of 3.4% and an annual growth rate of 1.9%. With this growing job outlook, you may wonder if a career in a medical office is right for you. Before you decide on a career, you may want to consider the pros and cons to determine if becoming a medical office assistant is a good career choice.

What Is a Medical Office Assistant?

Before we dive into the pros and cons, let’s first talk about what a medical office assistant does. Medical office assistants perform a variety of tasks to support medical offices. Some tasks are more general administrative duties, such as answering phones, scheduling appointments, responding to emails, billing, and greeting patients. Other duties are more specific to the medical field, including utilizing healthcare software to access and update medical records, transcribing doctor notes, coordinating with insurance, preparing exam rooms and equipment, managing medical supply inventory, and even assisting with examinations such as intake questions or taking vital signs.

Medical office assistants may work in a variety of office settings, such as:

  • Hospitals
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Health clinics 
  • Insurance companies
  • Long-term care homes and assisted living facilities

 

Pros of Becoming a Medical Office Assistant 

  • Job Growth

There are many benefits to being a medical office assistant, which is why the field is growing. With an above average annual growth compared to other fields, beginning a medical office assistant career can provide job security in the coming years. And with an aging population (between the ages of 56 and 75) making up 24.9% of the Canadian population in 2021, there continues to be a higher demand for workers in the healthcare industry.

  • Minimum Education Requirements

Although there are no provincial or federal certification requirements to become a medical office assistant, most medical offices require a diploma or certificate, and knowledge or experience in the medical field. Other healthcare fields require a bachelor’s degree, which can take four years to complete, which can be a higher barrier to entry for some individuals who want to start a career in the near future. 

The good news is that some medical office assistant programs can be completed in under a year. For example, MaKami College’s Medical Office Assistant program is designed to be completed in just 10 months. Our program, which is offered at our Edmonton and Calgary campuses, uses a blended online and in-person format that allows the flexibility to attend school while balancing a job or family.

  •  Competitive Salary

In Alberta in 2021, medical administrative assistants earned an average salary of $49,772 per year or $27.25 average hourly wage. Salaries and wages can vary depending on experience, whether you work full-time or part-time, type of location, and employers.

  • Rewarding Career

If you are looking for a rewarding career helping others, a career as a medical office assistant is a great option. Many working in the medical field, even in an administration role, feel good working on a team and being of service to others. Working with others for a common goal of treating patients and helping them improve their health can be rewarding because you are making a difference in people’s lives. It can also be rewarding working with a team of medical professionals and staff as opposed to a role that is more isolated.

  • Great Experience

Working as a medical office administrator provides many skills that can be transferrable to other jobs as well. Besides the basic office administration skills you will learn, you will get experience working in healthcare software, medical billing, and dealing with insurance companies. These skills can be used to advance your career into a number of jobs in the medical community, such as working at an insurance company or healthcare software company, or moving into a leadership role in a medical office or hospital. It can also be a great stepping stone to later advance your career by earning a certificate or degree to become a health care aide, nurse, or physician’s assistant.

 

Cons of Becoming a Medical Office Assistant 

  • Challenging Work Environment

While a career in the medical field can be rewarding for some, working in a medical office or hospital is not for everyone. Dealing with sick patients is a good fit for many, but if you’re not the nurturing type or don’t like to be around sick people, it may not be the best career choice for you. While there are opportunities to work at insurance companies or an office that treats non-contagious ailments, such as an orthopedist or dermatologist, there are many medical office environments where you will be exposed to patients with a variety of ailments and personalities. Not everyone is comfortable being around a medical patient environment every day, unless you are able to show compassion, be a good communicator and handle variable and stressful situations well.  

  • Work Hours

Employment hours vary for medical office administration work, and some people may not like working a set schedule. Doctor’s offices usually have regular business hours, but you may be required to work early or odd hours. Some hospital medical office assistants may be required to work nights and weekends, or shift work. Depending on the employer you seek out, some jobs may be more demanding than others and may require overtime or off-hour schedules.

According to the 2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average medical office administrator works about 35 hours per week. Most people in this field work full-time jobs, but there are part-time jobs available as well. However, since most work full-time, if you are looking to work a small number of hours per week, you may find fewer job opportunities in this field.

  • Education Costs

Not all medical office assistant jobs require a formal education, but most do. Paying for the education you need to become a medical office assistant can be a deterrent for some. Some programs can be costly, and at the end of the program you may not have any assistance in finding a job.

Fortunately, MaKami College offers financial assistance programs to help students find financial aid and other payment assistance. And with a blended learning format, many students are able to work while they take classes. Plus, MaKami provides a free laptop to every student in the Medical Office Assistant program!

 

Choosing to Become a Medical Office Assistant

Now that you’ve weighed the pros and cons, you may have decided that becoming a medical office administrator is just what you’re looking for in a career. Between a strong career outlook, a competitive salary, minimum education requirements, a rewarding environment working with people, and the opportunity to learn a variety of skills, there are many reasons to begin a medical office career.

Is a career as a medical office assistant right for you? Learn more about what our Medical Office Assistant diploma program has to offer and get pre-approved today!