Info About Becoming a Doctor's Office Receptionist

Read about the duties that doctors' office receptionists typically have. Find out the career and salary projections for this job, and read about similar career paths.

Career Definition for a Doctor's Office Receptionist

Doctors' office receptionists, often referred to as medical receptionists, help shape the patient-physician relationship because of their frequent interaction with patients and professionals, typically via the phone. They schedule appointments, clarify clinic policy, take prescription refill messages, and deliver phone messages to physicians. They must balance their duty to the doctor and practice policy while maintaining a calm, pleasant demeanor with the patient. Doctors' office receptionists also receive calls from laboratories, insurers, and other medical professionals, and they may also be responsible for completing insurance and other forms while maintaining the office and its supplies.

Education High school diploma or equivalent preferred
Job Skills Responsibility, reliability, discretion, empathy, tact, prioritization, phone skills
Median Hourly Wage (2017)* $14.33 for receptionists in physicians' offices
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 9% for all receptionists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

No formal education is required for this position, although most employers prefer applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent. An associate's degree in allied health can help increase career opportunities and options for advancement. However, the position is often viewed as a stepping stone to positions that require more in-depth knowledge, and many individuals pursue additional education for those positions while working as a doctor's office receptionist.

Job Skills

Doctors' office receptionists must be responsible, reliable, discreet, and possess superb phone skills, particularly the ability to handle and prioritize many incoming calls and distinguish the urgent from the routine. Doctors' office receptionists must also show tact and empathy. They may be called upon to explain appointment delays or billing issues to the patient and must do so without alienating the patient or the physician.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median hourly wage for receptionists in physicians' offices in May 2017 was $14.33. A 9% rise in employment was projected for all receptionists between 2016 and 2026, per the BLS. This position provides a first-hand glimpse into the billing, medical records, and medical office management fields and often leads to positions of greater responsibility within them.

Alternative Career Options

You might choose from these other administrative career options:

General Office Clerk

A minimum of a high school diploma is needed for this career, as with receptionists. Clerks can find employment in a number of industries, including the health field. A job decline of 1% was estimated for general office clerks from 2016 to 2026, according to the BLS. In 2017, these workers had a median hourly wage of $15.14.

Secretary or Administrative Assistant

The career outlook for all secretaries and administrative assistants was similar to that of general office clerks; the BLS predicted a 5% decrease in jobs from 2016 to 2026. For an entry-level position, a high school diploma is necessary. The median hourly wage for secretaries and administrative assistants was $17.11 in 2017, as reported by the BLS.


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