People aspiring to become secretaries in a dental office can take courses as part of a certificate program for dental or medical secretaries, administrative aides, receptionists or office managers. Classes are also available through an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Assisting program and through certificate programs offered at two-year vocational, technical and community colleges.
Typical topics covered in dental secretary courses include the following:
- Patient charting
- Dental terminology
- Written communication
- Office technologies
- Dental insurance and related forms
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List of Common Courses
One of the first classes offered in any secretarial program teaches basic office procedures. Prior to focusing on anything dental-related, fundamental administrative skills are taught. The essentials include transcribing, typing, writing, editing and proofreading. Some programs may offer this as a single introductory course while others divide it into several classes on each individual subject.
The secretary is the first contact patients have when entering a dental office so that individual must be knowledgeable in standard procedures and steps that need to be taken. Students become proficient in telecommunication and interpersonal communication while learning about the business of dentistry. Topics of discussion range from administrative duties--such as mail handling and ordering supplies--to patient-related tasks like appointment scheduling and record maintenance. This course also covers ethics and liability in the medical industry, dental-related computer programs and steps for obtaining a medical history.
This course covers broad medical terminology along with specific dental terminology, focusing on defining, spelling, speaking and interpreting common medical office vocabulary. In some programs, the class examines the roots of the words, their prefixes and suffixes.
Typically, the more complex tasks for secretaries in the medical field are related to billing. During this course, students learn the proper procedures for billing and coding when it comes to patient accounts and payment. The class also goes into detail about insurance forms, filing claims and the claims process as a whole. Some programs prepare students to take a certification exam to become medical billing specialists.
Although this course may be featured at different times throughout a program, exposure control is one of the most important lessons for employees in the healthcare field. The course covers guidelines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in order to convey the proper methods for infection control and prevention. The class also discusses specific precautions such as sterilization and quarantine methods.