General Doctor's Office Secretary: Job Outlook and Career Info

General doctor's office secretaries perform many general tasks related to office maintenance, patient interaction and physician administrative support to ensure an efficient and orderly office. Learn about the training, skills, salary info and employment outlook to find out if this occupation is the right one for you.

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Career Definition for a General Doctor's Office Secretary

A general doctor's office secretary performs a variety of duties based upon the size and staffing of the office. However, the primary responsibility of a general doctor's office secretary is office maintenance, which includes oversight of all office equipment and supplies, accurate filing of medical records and keeping a tidy, comfortable waiting room. The general doctor's office secretary may also serve as the receptionist and be responsible for answering phones, scheduling patients and interacting with pharmacies, hospitals, laboratories and insurers. A doctor's office secretary also assists physicians with correspondence, reports and medical conference preparation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Education High school diploma, prior secretarial experience or formal training that teaches basic office skills
Job Skills Interpersonal communication, teamwork, organization, good judgement
Median Salary (2015)* $33,040 (all medical secretaries)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 21% increase (all medical secretaries)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Those seeking a position as a general doctor's office secretary should hold a high school diploma and have basic office skills gained from prior secretarial experience or through formal training. An ability to grasp medical terminology is also required. This entry-level position often creates an interest in health care and a desire for positions of increased responsibility. To achieve that, many pursue additional education such as a bachelor's degree in health care administration, public health or health information technology.

Skills Required

In order to maximize office efficiency, a general doctor's office secretary must be highly organized, be able to work tactfully with physicians and anticipate their needs. All administrative staff who work in a doctor's office, including general doctor's office secretaries, must be flexible team players with strong interpersonal skills who show discretion and good judgment.

Career and Economic Outlook

The BLS reports that the projected employment growth for medical secretaries from 2014-2024 was much faster than the average, at 21%. The median salary for a medical secretary in May 2015 was $33,040 per year, though pay is highly dependent upon the size of the practice and duties performed.

Alternate Career Options

Related professions that have similar job duties to medical secretaries include medical assistant and medical transcriptionist.

Medical Assistant

For those interested in completing clinical duties in addition to performing administrative tasks, this occupation might be appealing. Although postsecondary programs exist, they aren't usually necessary, and assistants can learn their skills on the job. However, some states might require accredited programs or qualifying exams for assistants that wish to perform specific clinical tasks. A much faster-than-average job growth of 23% was predicted by the BLS from 2014-2024. These assistants earned an annual median salary of $30,590 in 2015, per the BLS.

Medical Transcriptionist

One- or two-year programs are normally required for most jobs, and some employers also look for applicants who are certified. The BLS expected a 3% decrease in jobs for these transcriptionists, who listen to doctors' voice recordings and convert them into a written format, from 2014-2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported an annual median wage of $34,890 for medical transcriptionists.

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