Medical Office Assistant vs Medical Assistant

Are you ready to support your community as a healthcare professional? You have options. Gwinnett College offers a Medical Office Assistant and Medical Assistant program to start a lifelong career in the medical field.


What Does a Medical Office Assistant Do?


Medical office assistants handle front office tasks in doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities. Duties consist of:


Scheduling Appointments


Medical office assistants help medical staff answer the phone and schedule appointments. The goal is to fill the physician’s schedule without making patients wait too long. 


Checking in Patients


A medical office assistant may sit in the reception area and greet patients as they enter the medical facility. They may request the patient’s insurance information, billing co-pays, and recent travel history to ensure they are ready for the medical assistant to take them back to the exam room. The medical office assistant can also help with administrative duties like electronic record filing, referral submissions, and patient billing.


Verifying Insurance Coverage


Medical facilities must verify insurance coverage, so funds are not lost due to claim denials. Once a patient sets an appointment, the medical office assistant can contact the insurance company and get verification for procedures and treatment. 


Medical Transcription


It is essential to keep patients’ records up to date, so medical office assistants help transcribe medical professionals’ notes. During a medical office assistant program, you will learn about coding, abbreviations, and medical terminology to help you transcribe information from medical assistants, nurses, and doctors.


Inventory Tracking


The medical office assistant tracks the medical and office supplies inventory to keep shelves stocked and the medical facilities running smoothly. They contact vendors and suppliers to obtain the supplies needed, allowing physicians to focus on patient care. 


Office Organization


A well-organized medical facility can run like clockwork. When everyone can find their needs, appointments are kept, and patients get better healthcare services. Plus, medical office assistants help disinfect waiting areas to keep patients and coworkers healthy.


Medical Records Management


Medical office assistants help manage records both in paper and electronic formats. They use medical software to update electronic health records, so physicians have all the information necessary to make informed decisions. These medical records include vital signs, laboratory test results, health histories, and other important patient information to make accurate diagnosis and treatment decisions.


What Does a Medical Assistant Do?


Medical assistants manage clinical and administrative tasks in healthcare settings. It’s a role that bridges the gap between the patient and the physician. Responsibilities include:


Appointment Scheduling


The medical assistant supports the medical staff by answering phones and scheduling appointments. They know what is needed for different procedures and how long it takes the doctor to complete treatments, so medical assistants are a great resource to schedule patient appointments and medical equipment.


Greeting and Rooming Patients


The medical assistant is usually the first person a patient sees as they enter the medical facility. The medical assistant will greet patients in the waiting room and walk them back to the exam room. Along the way, the medical assistant will observe the patient for any symptoms that should be brought to the physician.


Taking Vital Signs


The medical assistant will take vital signs once the patient is in the exam room. The medical assistant takes the patient’s temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation. Understanding the trends behind vital signs is essential, so they are usually taken at the beginning of every visit. That way, the physician has the information to make better diagnoses and treatment decisions. 


Performing Diagnostic Tests


A medical assistant performs an EKG to test the patient’s heart rate and identify any heart issues. They are responsible for preparing the patient, performing the tests, and reviewing it for any abnormalities. They may rerun the test on the doctor’s orders if the test has abnormalities.


Drawing Blood


The medical assistant is responsible for performing phlebotomy in a physician’s office. They draw blood and either send the sample to a third-party lab for review or test it in the physician’s office. It is up to the physician to review and inform the patient about the results. However, the medical assistant can educate the patient on proper post-procedure care.


Assisting with Procedures


The medical assistant will assist the physician with biopsies and suture removal. They hand the physician sterilized instruments and offer an extra pair of hands to allow procedures to run smoothly. After the procedure, the medical assistant will disinfect and sanitize equipment and surfaces for the next patient.


Tracking Inventory


Since the medical assistants use most medical supplies, they are good people to keep track of and order inventory. They work with the medical office assistant to order supplies and stock shelves so physicians can focus on patient care.


How Do I Become a Medical Office Assistant or Medical Assistant? 


A great way to become a medical office assistant or medical assistant is by completing a vocational program at Gwinnett College. While other roles in healthcare take years to train for, full-time students can become medical office assistants and medical assistants in less than a year. The curriculum covers the knowledge and skills you need to succeed as a medical professional, and you graduate work-ready and prepared for certification. 


Medical Office Administration Program


The Medical Office Administration diploma program is designed for Gwinnett College students seeking to train for an entry-level career in a medical office assistant environment. The degree and diploma programs include training in general office skills, computer skills, medical office procedures, and medical insurance and coding procedures.


Medical Assistant Program


Ready to start a new career as a medical assistant? Gwinnett Colleges & Institute offers medical assisting courses to gain essential skills and training at multiple campuses from Lilburn, Sandy Springs, and Atlanta/Marietta to Orlando, FL and Raleigh, NC. The core curriculum at these campuses focuses on the medical assisting skills and training you will need to seek entry-level employment in physicians’ offices, clinics, hospitals, and other medical settings needing the services of associates trained in both front and back-office medical assisting skills. 


Contact Gwinnett Colleges & Institute today to learn more about becoming a medical office assistant or medical assistant.