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Medical Administrative Assistant

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Welcome to the Medical Administrative Assistant guide!

If you have questions or comments about this guide, please contact Dennis Johnson, Librarian for the School of Health Sciences or

For career information, please see the Medical Administrative Assistant tab on the Careers page of this guide.

If you are a new student, please see the Information for New Students page for important notes from your Department Chair.

See also:

In addition to the resources listed below, see the School of Business Guide's pages on

The library's eBooks from EBSCO collection contains helpful eBooks on insurance and reimbursement (see example titles below).  The library's databases, such as Academic Search CompleteBusiness Source Complete, and Health Sciences and Nursing also contain articles from magazines and journals on these subjects.

The library's eBooks from EBSCO collection contains helpful e-books on medical record management (see example titles below). The library's databases, such as Academic Search CompleteBusiness Source Complete, and Health Sciences and Nursing, also contain articles from magazines and journals on these subjects.

Database Search Tips


  • Library databases are collections of resources, including full-text articles, books, and encyclopedias, that are searchable.
  • Searching library databases is different than searching Google. Best results are achieved when using Keywords linked with Boolean Operators
  • Applying Limiters such as full-text, publication date, resource type, language, geographic location, and subject help to refine search results.
  • Utilizing Phrases or Fields, in addition to an awareness of Stop Words, can focus your search and retrieve more useful results.
  • Have questions? Connect with a Librarian through the Library Live Chat for assistance.

Boolean Operators connect keywords or concepts logically to retrieve relevant articles, books, and other resources.  There are three Boolean Operators:

  • AND
  • OR
  • NOT

Using AND 

  • Narrows search results
  • Connects two or more keywords/concepts
  • All keywords/concepts connected with "and" must be in an article or resource to appear in the search results list

Example: The result list will include resources that include both keywords -- "distracted driving" and "texting" -- in the same article or resource, represented in the shaded area where the circles intersect (area shaded in purple).

Using OR

  • Broadens search results ("OR means more!")
  • Connects two or more synonyms or related keywords/concepts
  • Resources appearing in the results list will include any of the terms connected with the OR connector

Example:  The result list will include resources that include the keyword "texting" OR the keyword "cell phone" (entire area shaded in blue); either is acceptable.

Using NOT

  • Excludes keywords or concepts from the search
  • Narrows results by removing resources that contain the keyword or term connect with the NOT connector
  • Use sparingly

Example: The result list will include all resources that includes the term "car" (green area) but will exclude any resource that includes the term "motorcycle" (purple area) even though the term car may be present in the resource.

A library database searches for keywords throughout the entire resource record including the full-text of the resource, subject headings, tags, bibliographic information, etc.


  • Natural language words or short phrases that describe a concept or idea
  • Can retrieve too few or irrelevant results due to full-text searching (What words would an author use to write about this topic?)
  • Provide flexibility in a search
  • Must consider synonyms or related terms to improve search results
  • TIP: Build a Keyword List

Example:  The keyword list above was developed to find resources that discuss how texting while driving results in accidents.  Notice that there are synonyms (texting and "text messaging"), related terms ("cell phones" and texting), and spelling variations ("cell phone" and cellphone).  Using keywords when searching full-text requires consideration of various words that express an idea or concept.

Subject Headings

  • Predetermined "controlled vocabulary" database editors apply to resources to describe topical coverage of content
  • Can retrieve more precise search results because every article assigned that subject heading will be retrieved.
  • Provide less flexibility in a search
  • Can be combined with a keyword search to focus search results.
  • TIP: Consult database subject heading list or subject headings assigned to relevant resources

Example 1: In EBSCO's Academic Search Complete, clicking on the "Subject Terms" tab provides access to the entire subject heading list used in the database.  It also allows a search for specific subject terms.


Example 2:  A subject term can be incorporated into a keyword search by clicking on the down arrow next to "Select a Field" and selecting "Subject Terms" from the dropdown list.  Also, notice how subject headings are listed below the title of the resource providing another strategy for discovering subject headings used in the database.

When a search term is more than one word, enclose the phrase in quotation marks to retrieve more precise and accurate results.  Using quotation marks around a term will search it as a "chunk," searching for those particular words together in that order within the text of a resource. 


"cell phone"

"distracted driving"

"car accident"

TIP: In some databases, neglecting to enclose phrases in quotation marks will insert the AND Boolean connector between each word resulting in unintended search results.


Truncation provides an option to search for a root of a keyword in order to retrieve resources that include variations of that word.  This feature can be used to broaden search results, although some results may not be relevant.  To truncate a keyword, type an asterisk (*) following the root of the word.

For example:


Library databases provide a variety of tools to limit and refine search results.  Limiters provide the ability to limit search results to resources having specified characteristics including:

  • Full text
  • Resource type
  • Publication date
  • Language
  • Geographic location
  • Subject

In both the EBSCO and ProQuest databases, the limiting tools are located in the left panel of the results page.

                                                 EBSCO                                                     ProQuest


The short video below provides a demonstration of how to use limiters to refine a list of search results.

Each resource in a library database is stored in a record.  In addition to the full-text of the resources, searchable Fields are attached that typically include:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Journal title
  • Date of Publication
  • Abstract
  • Subject Headings
  • Publisher

Incorporating Fields into your search can assist in focusing and refining search results by limiting the results to those resources that include specific information in a particular field.

In both EBSCO and ProQuest databases, selecting the Advanced Search option will allow Fields to be included in a search.

For example, in the Advanced Search option in EBSCO's Academic Search Complete database, clicking on the down arrow next to "Select a Field" provides a list of fields that can be searched within that database.  Select the field and enter the information in the text box to the left to use this feature.

Stop words are short, commonly used words--articles, prepositions, and pronouns-- that are automatically dropped from a search.  Typical stop words include:

  • a
  • an
  • and
  • the
  • also
  • but
  • for
  • in
  • is
  • of
  • so
  • which
  • when
  • was

In library databases, a stop word will not be searched even if it is included in a phrase enclosed in quotation marks.  In some instances, a word will be substituted for the stop word to allow for the other words in the phrase to be searched in proximity to one another within the text of the resource.

For example, if you searched company of America, your result list will include these variatons:

  • company in America
  • company of America
  • company for America

This short video demonstrates how to create a search string -- keywords connected with Boolean operators -- to use in a library database search to retrieve relevant resources for any research assignment.

Medical Administrative Assistant Career Information

O*Net Online: Research career paths for a medical administrative assistant 

Occupational Handbook: Medical Secretaries and Administrative Assistants

Rasmussen University Blog: What is the Average Medical Administrative Assistant Salary?

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Common Interview Questions

More often than not you will likely encounter a variety of standard interview questions no matter what your degree field and it is best to always be prepared; here are some common questions, as well as tips on how you will want to approach an answer, that you may see during your next interview!

Q. Tell me about yourself.

This is one of the most commonly asked interview questions. Be sure that you are
speaking to your professional “self” when responding to this question. Rely on your resume as an outline to
respond to this question. Give a brief outline of how you got to where you are at, and why you are passionate
about the field that you are going into.

Q. What experience do you have in this field?
This can be tough if you are entry-level but speak to any schooling
that relates to the field, and any transferable skills, volunteer experience or internship/externship experiences
that are relatable as well.

Q. What do you know about our organization/company?
Know the company’s current issues, their mission statement and the major players in the industry. DO YOUR RESEARCH. This is your opportunity to use compliments (within reason) and news-worthy information to outshine the rest of the competition. I can’t state enough to DO YOUR RESEARCH!

Q. Why do you want to work for our organization?
Similar to the last question, you need to know information about the organization, the position and your skills and qualifications. Be prepared to align your professional mission to their mission and speak to how you will make a positive impact.

Q. Describe your strengths and a weakness.
Nobody wants to admit to having a weakness. Start out with a weakness that does not directly impact the job that you are interviewing for and let them know what you have been doing to improve upon that weakness. For example, perhaps you have a fear of public speaking or speaking in front of large crowds but when applying for a position in the healthcare industry, chances are this will not directly impact your job or your patients. You might be able to state that you have been working on
overcoming this fear through the group presentations that you have done in your courses, but still feel that this skill could use additional work. Then go on to speak about a couple of your strengths that directly correlate to the position that you are interviewing for.

Q. Can you give an example of your problem-solving ability?
Give a specific example of where you used creative thinking and problem solving to find an innovative way to work out an issue with positive results.

Q. Why did you leave your last position?
This is not the time to divulge all the dirt on your old boss, coworkers, or your poor work conditions. While your last job may have been the worst job in the history of the universe, you certainly don't need to let anyone know this. If there is nothing positive to say about your old workplace, just keep it short and respectful and say you left to pursue other opportunities. This might also be an opportunity to speak to what you learned and how you grew with your previous employer, and what has prepared you to take the next step in your career.

Q. What would your co-workers say about you?
This may seem like a difficult question at first, but given a little time to think about it, you will probably remember something amazing someone you worked with once said about you. Use that information here. It has pretty much the same effect as if your co-worker were actually there speaking on your behalf. Be confident about your abilities and successes.

Q. Have you ever been in a situation where you struggled with another employee?
Always remain positive when describing previous co-workers or supervisors. Think about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker and describe how you negotiated and came to a mutually satisfactory resolution.

Q. Can you give me an example of a time that you went “above and beyond” your normal responsibilities?
This example should be something specific which translates to quality needed to succeed in the position. You can speak to extra time that you took to do something well to support someone else, or how your attention to detail on something made a positive impact on the team overall in some way.

Q. Have you ever made a bad decision that you regretted?
Everybody makes mistakes, so don’t give an example where you had terrible decision-making skills. Select an occurrence that allowed you to learn a good lesson and describe how you grew from it. Let them know about the situation and how you would make changes if given the opportunity to do it again.

Q. Give an example of an obstacle or major problem that you had to overcome in your career?
Go over an event or some change in direction in your career that you might have been initially uncomfortable with but that
turned into a positive experience.

Q. Can you give an example of when you missed a deadline and had to have it extended?
Highlight your flexibility and emphasize the circumstance around the deadline extension, and any new factors that came into play. Describe how you adapted to those factors. Be sure to use an example that allowed you to learn and grow; and resulted in a positive outcome.

Q. What kind of salary do you require?
Be prepared to address this type of question if it is asked. Do your research on what the salary range might be for the type of position that you are interviewing for and the city that you will be working in. Be sure to mention the salary RANGE and mention that your salary is negotiable based on the full compensation package.

Q. Do you have any questions for me?
Have a few (or perhaps more than a few) questions prepared to ask the employer. The employer will assume that you are really not all that attracted to the position or the company if you have absolutely no questions. Intelligent questions establish you as a prepared and respectful individual, and that you are truly interested in the position that you are interviewing for, and the company that you are interviewing with.

Some examples of question to consider asking at the end of the interview are:

• What opportunities are there for professional development?
• How would you describe a typical day/week in this position?
• May I inquire about the training process for a new hire in this role?
• What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role? OR Are there any
skills needed for this position that we have not discussed? (This gives you to opportunity to speak more
about why you would be a good fit and emphasize more of your qualifications.)
• What are the biggest challenges facing the company / department right now?
• In what way is performance measured and reviewed?
• What is your timeframe for filling the position? OR what are the next steps in the interview process?


• What does this company do? –you should already know this from your research
• What are the benefits? –Salary and benefits can be discussed once the position is offered
• Did I get the job? Why did the last person in my position leave?
• Is there any way to consider an alternate schedule?


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