Here at PMI, we receive a lot of questions from prospective students about the Certified Medical Office Manager course and exam. They want to know things like how much experience and knowledge is needed to begin the course, and tips on how to study for and pass the exam. So, we asked PMI faculty member, Linda D’Spain, to address some common questions about the program.
Linda is a highly knowledgeable professional with more than 20 years of hands-on experience in medical practice management. She has worked with PMI for more than ten years teaching medical office professionals a variety of skills to excel in their careers.
Whether you are just starting out on your career journey or ready to get the process started, read on for insider tips on how to successfully complete the training to become a Certified Medical Office Manager.
Why do I need the CMOM training?
If you're already an office manager, it is very important to get this credential because in my personal experience and observation, so many office managers have been promoted from within. They have loyalty and longevity, and are promoted based on job capability and abilities, but they really do not get the education that they need to run a multi-million-dollar practice that is heavily regulated with government regulations and very challenging revenue opportunities.
It’s very important that a medical office manager is highly trained and highly educated in different areas of financial management, human resources, and managed care contracts, in order to be able to fully manage a medical practice.
How can I justify the CMOM training to my manager?
It's very important to educate the physicians on what is learned in this class because so many doctors nowadays are trying to run the practice themselves or they ask a spouse to come in and help. The spouse didn't necessarily sign up to help manage the practice. So, this is an important duty that can be taken off a physician, physician’s spouse, or a family member, and kept in-house. This is what we need to communicate to the doctor as the importance for taking this course.
What advice do you have for someone who has worked in the office for a short time? What steps should they take to advance into a management role?
So, if you have worked in a medical practice for a very short time, and you're looking to advance into a management role, my advice would be to start cross-training into other areas of the practice. You need to have a full understanding of the billing department, the collections department, and the human resources department. You need to understand the important tasks performed at the front desk, and compliance, so learn as much as you can in the practice. And then look into further education.
I'm a big fan of Practice Management Institute, and we have a product called Total Access, which is just that: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year access to a library full of information from A to Z in healthcare management, compliance, collections, billing, and coding.
Then I would go and talk to my boss, the provider of the practice perhaps, and I would tell my provider the absolute truth. You want to stay at that practice, and you want to grow, so go back to the doctor and negotiate. Use some negotiation tactics, and let the physician know that you truly, honestly want to be there and help that practice, and you plan to be there for several years. See if you can talk that doctor into investing in you.
Now the challenge that we run into, is so many doctors in the past have invested in employees that leave shortly after the investment to go work for the competitor. Doctors have been a little burnt out on investing in staff members. So, I would negotiate, and I would ask that doctor, “If I stay for a year, either I'll pay for the course and you reimburse me, or bonus it back to me. Or, how about you pay for it, and if I choose to leave or you choose for me to leave prior to a year, then you can deduct that from my final paycheck? But either way, I do want to be here, and I can prove my loyalty to you, and stay for a year.”
What do you think is the most challenging part of this course that students tend to struggle with?
In my opinion, students struggle the most with the financial management piece of the certified medical office manager course. And the reason is that in most practices a lot of the employees have been promoted from a receptionist or supervisor into the medical office manager role, and they have not actually been responsible for paying bills or for balancing the bank statement.
Many times, the doctor does that or it's outsourced to a bookkeeper or a CPA. So, the medical office manager has really never even seen a Profit and Loss Statement or has been responsible for running any type of report and working with the CPA to be able to read a report and to know what is indicative of what the report is stating.
We give some very challenging financial equations for our participants to learn, such as fixed expenses, variable expenses, direct expenses, learning how to crunch numbers to being able to calculate overhead ratio, and then to be able to understand what an overhead ratio is, and what it means if it's a good thing or bad thing.
How do you help your students study for the exam?
I have been teaching this course for almost 10 years. And in my experience when it comes to the exam, from day one, we try to eliminate any anxiety; we talk about the exam. We also actually give a sample exam on day one for our students to take home for homework. This helps them to identify where their strengths are, where they have opportunities to study harder, to ask more questions, or to go back to do their homework to get that information. So, when it comes to studying, we give students homework assignments, and they have quizzes at the end of every chapter.
How do the CMOM students use their certification?
I still see some of the same students that I had back from 10 years ago, and they share with me how they have grown in their career and where they are now. And some of my students that have been receptionists and billers are now administrators at very large practices—very successful, doing very well. Many times, the graduates come to our national conferences, and during networking activities, we hear numerous success stories. It’s very exciting!
Take the next step in your career and become a Certified Medical Office Manager. Learn more about this certification and enroll today.