A medical secretary's duties often stretch beyond taking notes and relaying phone calls or confirming appointments; they may also handle medical and insurance billing and need to be comfortable with medical terminology and human anatomy. A high school diploma may be all that's needed to get a job in this fast-growing occupation, but post-secondary courses in administrative and computer skills may be a plus.
Doctor's office secretaries attend to the needs of patients who are waiting to see physicians. Their duties typically include answering phone calls, handling medical records, scheduling appointments and greeting patients. No formal education beyond a high school education is required to work as a medical secretary but, because of the nature of medical billing, industry computer programs and specialized terminology, completion of a certificate program or individual courses related to the field may be helpful in securing a position.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED; individual courses and certificate programs related to medical secretary work are available|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||21% for medical secretaries*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$33,040 for medical secretaries*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Educational Requirements for a Doctor's Office Secretary
Most employers seek entry-level doctor's office secretaries with at least a high school diploma or GED, as well as basic computer skills, including typing, database operation and spreadsheet creation. Typically, employers don't require a college degree, but some may prefer candidates who have completed some courses in medical documentation or a certificate program for medical secretaries. These programs generally include courses in anatomy and medical terminology, in addition to basic computer, communication and health care management classes.
Secretaries often handle all of the administrative duties of a doctor's office. This might include updating patient records, attending to patients when they arrive to see a doctor, sending samples to labs and communicating with labs to receive test results in a timely fashion. They also typically maintain a doctor's appointment book and ensure that the office is stocked with supplies and running efficiently. Doctor's office secretaries must be highly organized, exhibit excellent communication skills and be able to accomplish multiple tasks simultaneously.
Doctor's office secretaries may be able to advance in their positions and earn higher salaries by demonstrating keen skills and obtaining professional experience. In offices that employ multiple secretaries, experienced employees might be promoted to positions in which they supervise or manage other secretaries and office staff. Advancement to managerial positions might require additional education.
Hard working and skilled office staff are nearly always in demand in the medical field. With many secretaries advancing to managerial positions or returning to school for anticipated career changes, there is a high amount of turnover, and many positions are available at any given time. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that job opportunities for doctor's office secretaries would increase 21% between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations. Medical secretaries earned a median yearly salary of $33,040 in May 2015, according to BLS figures.
Professional experience and a certificate in a field related to doctor's office administration can help a medical secretary get a higher salary and possibly move into supervisory positions. However, a high school diploma can get a medical secretary started in their career.