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How to Become a Medical Office Manager

April 30, 2021  |  Category: Healthcare Administration

A medical office manager working on a schedule.

Medical office managers are the gears of a practice: Their work keeps everything running smoothly. They manage entire facilities or healthcare departments, including planning, directing, and coordinating services.
Becoming a medical office manager requires education, certification, and years of training. If you’re considering a career in the field, understanding what a medical office manager does, the various environments they work in, and the specific qualifications they need is important. Earning a bachelor’s in healthcare administration is one way individuals can prepare for a successful career in medical facility management.

Medical Office Manager Job Overview

A medical office manager oversees a healthcare office’s communications, operations, legal, and clerical functions. They typically work in outpatient care facilities such as physicians’ offices, community health clinics, and specialty centers such as physical therapy practices or dialysis clinics. They also may manage specific functions or departments in nursing homes or hospitals.

Communications

One of a medical office manager’s key responsibilities is to act as a liaison among physicians, nurses, medical technologists, clerical staff members, and other office employees. They also may represent the facility in investor or board meetings, schedule and run meetings for staff members, and oversee the recruitment, hiring, and training process for new employees.

Operations

A medical office manager’s operational duties involve ensuring that the practice runs efficiently. This includes overseeing clerical staff members, making sure that schedules and records are accurate, and ensuring that patients receive the services they need. It also includes improving daily processes and developing goals and objectives for the organization’s operations.
To improve efficiency by shortening patient wait times, for example, a manager might set a new goal (a maximum 17-minute wait time), develop a plan to reach it (setting a timer when each patient checks in), and train employees on new practices (teach physician assistants and nurses to intervene when a timer is ticking down without a patient having been seen).

Legal

Medical office managers also monitor government policies that affect their facilities. They research new regulations and ensure that their staff complies with local, state, and federal laws. For example, the manager of a surgery center would oversee visitor regulations and mask mandates depending on the state of public health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Clerical

In their clerical role, medical office managers ensure that their facility is organized. Some responsibilities include setting work schedules and monitoring budgets. They also manage facility finances such as patient billing, and they are typically in charge of ordering supplies and tracking inventory. In a smaller practice, a medical office manager may schedule follow-up appointments and file patient records.

Important Skills

A successful medical office manager exhibits a variety of skills, including:

  • Leadership: Managing a team requires strong decision-making and mentoring capabilities.
  • Communication: Acting as the liaison among nurses, technicians, and other staff requires excellent communication skills.
  • Confidence: Making bold decisions and training new staff members requires poise and assurance.
  • Customer service: Listening to patients’ concerns and serving their needs can lead to higher customer satisfaction and even improved health outcomes.
  • Dependability: In fast-paced environments where health and even lives are on the line, patients and healthcare providers must be able to rely on officer managers.
  • Motivation: Boosting team morale produces happy employees, satisfied patients, and well-run medical offices.

In addition to these skills, experience with accounting and the administrative process and an understanding of medical terms are key to a medical office manager’s day-to-day responsibilities.

Role Variations

A position’s specific responsibilities may depend on where a medical office manager works. In a doctor’s office, for example, office managers are responsible for the entire facility, including office upkeep and overseeing patient care processes. Clinical managers, on the other hand, often work in hospitals supervising individual departments such as billing, surgery, or physical therapy rather than the entire institution.

Requirements

Learning how to become a medical office manager begins with understanding the prerequisites of the job in education, certification, and training and experience.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in health administration, business administration, nursing, or a related area is typically required to enter the field. Courses that combine business practices with medical terminology — such as Marketing and Social Media in Healthcare, offered by AdventHealth University Online in their Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration (BSHA) program — help students develop a full understanding of healthcare administration’s changing role. Some positions may require a master’s degree in healthcare administration or a related field.

Certification

Some states and work environments require specific licensure or certification for medical office managers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For example, some work environments require applicants to be registered nurses (RNs), licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs), or licensed nursing home administrators (NHAs), depending on the state and position.

Non-required certifications that can help individual career advancement include the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management’s medical management certification and the American Health Information Management Association’s health information management certification.

Training and Experience

At least five to seven years of experience in a medical office setting is required to become a medical office manager, according to the BLS. Some often administrators gain experience as RNs, while others may begin as medical records technicians or administrative assistants. To advance beyond entry-level positions, some choose to enter graduate programs, which often include a year of supervised training in a healthcare office.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for medical office managers, classified as medical and health service managers, was $100,980 in May 2019. BLS data projects that the field will grow by 32% between 2019 and 2029, significantly faster than the labor market as a whole. Demand for medical office managers is driven by the aging of the baby boomer population and the shift toward outpatient care in the healthcare industry.

Start Your Journey in Healthcare Administration at AdventHealth University Online

The first step toward becoming a medical office manager is pursuing the right education. AdventHealth University Online’s Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration offers students a solid foundation in law and ethics, accounting and finance, health information systems, analytics, and human resources administration. With expert faculty and robust student support, the BSHA produces leaders in the field. Learn more about AdventHealth University Online’s commitment to excellence in healthcare administration today.

Recommended Readings
5 Types of Leadership Styles in Healthcare
How to Become a Nursing Home Administrator
What Do Healthcare Administrators Do?

Sources:
The Balance Careers, Medical Office Manager Job Description
National Association of Long Term Care Administrator Boards, NHA Exam
National Organization of Rheumatology Management, Seven Qualities and Skills Medical Office Managers Must Have
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers
Workable, Medical Office Manager Job Description