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Medical Administrative Assistant vs Respiratory Therapist

Medical Administrative Assistant vs Respiratory Therapist

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Are you considering a career in the medical field but aren't sure which path to take? Two popular options are becoming a Medical Administrative Assistant or a Respiratory Therapist. While both roles are important in the healthcare industry, they have distinct differences in job responsibilities, education and training requirements, and career outlook. In this blog post, we will compare and contrast these two professions to help you make an informed decision about your future.

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What is a Medical Administrative Assistant and Respiratory Therapist?

Medical Administrative Assistant: A Medical Administrative Assistant, also known as a Medical Secretary or Medical Office Assistant, plays a vital role in healthcare settings. They are responsible for handling administrative and clerical tasks to ensure the smooth operation of medical offices, hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare facilities. Some of their duties may include:

  • Greeting patients and visitors, checking them in, and scheduling appointments
  • Managing patient records and medical documentation
  • Billing and coding for insurance purposes
  • Answering phone calls and responding to inquiries
  • Assisting healthcare providers with administrative tasks

Respiratory Therapist: On the other hand, a Respiratory Therapist is a healthcare professional who specializes in treating patients with respiratory issues. They work closely with physicians to assess, diagnose, and treat patients with breathing disorders, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or emphysema. Some of their responsibilities may include:

  • Conducting diagnostic tests to evaluate lung function
  • Administering medications and treatments to help patients breathe better
  • Assisting with the management of ventilators and life support systems
  • Educating patients on proper breathing techniques and self-care
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals to develop treatment plans

Difference between a Medical Administrative Assistant and Respiratory Therapist

While both Medical Administrative Assistants and Respiratory Therapists work in the healthcare industry, their roles and responsibilities differ significantly. Here are some key differences between the two professions:

  • Job Focus: Medical Administrative Assistants primarily focus on administrative tasks, such as managing patient records, scheduling appointments, and handling billing and coding. On the other hand, Respiratory Therapists are primarily involved in direct patient care, treating respiratory conditions, and providing respiratory support.

  • Patient Interaction: Medical Administrative Assistants have frequent interaction with patients, as they are the first point of contact in medical offices. They greet patients, check them in, and address their inquiries. In contrast, Respiratory Therapists also interact with patients but in a more clinical setting. They provide direct care, educate patients on respiratory conditions, and monitor their progress.

  • Level of Education and Training: The educational requirements for Medical Administrative Assistants are generally less extensive compared to Respiratory Therapists. Medical Administrative Assistants typically complete a diploma or certificate program, while Respiratory Therapists must complete an associate's degree or higher. Additionally, Respiratory Therapists need to pass a licensure exam to practice.

  • Career Advancement: Both professions offer opportunities for career advancement, but the paths may be different. Medical Administrative Assistants can advance to supervisory or managerial roles within medical offices or pursue further education to become healthcare administrators. Respiratory Therapists, on the other hand, can specialize in specific areas such as neonatal or critical care, or pursue advanced degrees to become respiratory care educators or researchers.

Medical Administrative Assistant vs Respiratory Therapist: Job Description

Medical Administrative Assistant:

  • Greet patients and visitors, check them in, and schedule appointments
  • Manage patient records and medical documentation
  • Handle billing and coding for insurance purposes
  • Answer phone calls and respond to inquiries
  • Assist healthcare providers with administrative tasks

Respiratory Therapist:

  • Conduct diagnostic tests to evaluate lung function
  • Administer medications and treatments to improve breathing
  • Manage ventilators and life support systems
  • Educate patients on proper breathing techniques and self-care
  • Collaborate with healthcare professionals to develop treatment plans

Medical Administrative Assistant vs Respiratory Therapist: Education and Training

Medical Administrative Assistant:

  • Complete a diploma or certificate program in medical office administration or a related field
  • Learn about medical terminology, office procedures, billing and coding, and patient record management
  • Gain hands-on experience through internships or practicums
  • Some employers may require certification, such as Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA)

Respiratory Therapist:

  • Complete an associate's degree in respiratory therapy or a related field
  • Study subjects such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and respiratory therapy techniques
  • Participate in clinical rotations to gain practical experience
  • Pass the National Board for Respiratory Care (NBRC) exam to become a Certified Respiratory Therapist (CRT)
  • Some Respiratory Therapists pursue additional certifications, such as Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT)

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Medical Administrative Assistant vs Respiratory Therapist: Career Outlook and Salary

Medical Administrative Assistant:

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of Medical Secretaries is projected to grow 10 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • The median annual wage for Medical Secretaries was $37,090 in May 2020, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $54,960.

Respiratory Therapist:

  • The BLS projects that the employment of Respiratory Therapists will grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • The median annual wage for Respiratory Therapists was $63,950 in May 2020, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $92,140.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a career as a Medical Administrative Assistant or a Respiratory Therapist depends on your interests, skills, and career goals. If you enjoy administrative tasks and prefer a role with less direct patient care, becoming a Medical Administrative Assistant may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you have a passion for helping patients with respiratory issues and want to provide direct care, a career as a Respiratory Therapist might be a better fit. Consider your strengths, preferences, and long-term goals to make an informed decision that aligns with your aspirations in the healthcare industry.

Dreambound's educational programs are available in diverse locations. Explore these recommended blogs for a comprehensive examination of the two vocations, including in-depth insights into their prerequisites and guidance on initiating your journey:

Justine Tacmo
Written by
Justine Tacmo

Justine Tacmo is part of the Growth team at Dreambound. He assists the organization by updating critical information so students receive the most up-to-date information for their desired trade schools. Besides, he has a passion for writing and expresses it through poetry, covering themes of life, love, and mental health, which is also his advocacy.

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