How Do I Become a Medical Secretary?

If you have a friendly personality and excellent computer and organizational skills, you might wonder how to become a medical secretary. Medical secretaries provide doctors and nurses with the administrative support to manage the day-to-day routine of running a hospital, private medical office or other medical facility. Though medical secretaries are not directly involved in the medical care and treatment of patients, they may be involved in scheduling patient office appointments and procedures. Without medical secretaries, doctor’s offices would lack the necessary organization and supplies to help patients.

Like secretaries and administrative assistants in other industries, medical secretaries ensure that the office as a whole runs smoothly. They keep track of patient files and medical history and initiate and answer phone calls, mail and email correspondence. When the need arises for creating and using computer tools such as spreadsheets and databases, medical secretaries handle this task, as well. Secretaries often order supplies as needed for an office, and in the medical field, this may include ordering medical supplies. Medical secretaries are often the first faces that greet patients when the walk in the door of the medical office, so a friendly and approachable nature is necessary for success.

Medical secretaries may also be responsible for filling out insurance paperwork and handling billing claims, so they must understand insurance company procedures and billing practices. A medical secretary may also fax and call in information to other medical offices, pharmacies or insurance companies. Some medical secretaries transcribe dictated reports about patients, which necessitates familiarity with medical terminology. Recording a patient’s medical history may also fall under the responsibilities of a medical secretary.

While secretaries in other fields may be able to secure a job while holding only a high school diploma, the need for advanced knowledge has made some employers seek medical secretaries with at least an associate’s degree. In addition to developing familiarity with business practices, word-processing and record-keeping computer programs, and written and verbal communication skills, aspiring medical secretaries should learn about insurance billing practices and medical terminology.

While employment opportunities for secretaries and administrative assistants as a whole are expected to grow only as fast as average, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects medical secretary opportunities to increase by as much as 41 percent between 2010 and 2020. Health care is a rapidly growing field, and new or expanding hospitals and medical offices will continue to need competent administrative support in the years to come. As of 2010, medical secretaries earned a median salary of $30,530 per year, though that salary may vary depending on location and experience. For many medical secretaries, job security and the ability to assist doctors in helping patients make this career rewarding.

If you have superior organizational and computer skills, enjoy interacting with others, and have an interest in learning medical terminology, knowing how to become a medical secretary may be the first step to beginning a new career in the thriving field of health care.

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