What Is an Administrative Medical Assistant?

Debra Riley


In large medical practices where specializations are common, even necessary for effective and efficient delivery of healthcare services, an administrative medical assistant performs distinct yet complementary duties from his clinical counterpart – a CMA Certified Medical Assistant. Their education, training and licensing requirements are also similar in many respects.

Role and Responsibility

As the name implies, a medical administrative assistant assumes roles and responsibilities specific to the healthcare industry with tasks related to general administration. These include:

  • Greeting patients and visitors in the clinic
  • Answering the phone and queries from patients and visitors
  • Scheduling patient appointments and medical procedures
  • Coordinating laboratory services for patients and physicians
  • Updating and maintaining patient records including the use of electronic health records (EHR) and medical records maintained by the physician
  • Filling out and processing insurance forms for both patients and physicians, when applicable
  • Ordering and buying equipment, tools and supplies for the clinic
  • Assisting medical professionals in administrative tasks including but not limited to transcribing dictation and writing correspondence as well as preparing presentations and reports
  • Coordinating with other personnel including hospital administrators, laboratory professionals and third-party suppliers in other matters.

Suffice it to say that an administrative medical assistant specializes in the effective and efficient performance of administrative functions in whatever venue of employment he may be in. He may also be well-versed in the clinical aspects of the job such as taking and recording vital signs, assisting the physician during patient examination, and even performing basic laboratory preparation, among others, but his specialization is in administrative functions.

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Medical administrative assistants work in a wide variety of settings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 50 percent of all medical assistants – both administrative and clinical – work in physicians’ offices while the rest work in hospitals, outpatient care facilities, and long-term care facilities as well as in the clinics of chiropractors, optometrists, dentists and podiatrists.

Such varied choices in employment is not surprising considering that medical assistants possess the knowledge and skills essential for the effective and efficient administration of offices in the healthcare industry.

The majority of medical administrative assistants earn between $23,220 and $49,730 a year depending on their level of education, experience and position as well as the type of employer. High-paying employers including psychiatric and substance abuse facilities, insurance companies, dental offices, and scientific research firms.

According to BLS, the average annual salaries for medical administrative assistants was $33,730 in 2016. The job prospects for these professionals were also above average with a projected increase of nearly 29 percent from 2012 to 2022.

Training and Education

If you are interested in becoming a well-paid administrative medical assistant, you should ideally complete either a 1-year diploma program or a 2-year associate degree program in community colleges, technical-vocational colleges, and universities with accredited programs. The curriculum typically includes a combination of classroom discussions and clinical training – online courses are also available.

Your next step is passing the requirements for certification with the most important being the certification exam; choices include one of five certifying agencies including the Certified Medical Assistant from the American Association of Medical Assistants, the Registered Medical Assistant from the American Medical Technologists, and the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant from the National Healthcareer Association.

The best medical assistants specializing in the administrative side of the profession possess certain skills. These include the ability to pay attention to details (e.g., quality and quantity of medical supplies, information regarding patient’s insurance), the ability to communicate well in both the oral and written aspects with patients and physicians, and the ability to work as part of a team, among others.