Hospital Unit Secretary: Education Requirements and Career Info

Sep 18, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a hospital unit secretary. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and salary expectations to find out if this is the career for you.

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A hospital unit secretary keeps patient care units working efficiently, by scheduling appointments, keeping records, and other administrative tasks. They need to be familiar with health care systems and medical terminology, and can gain this knowledge through a certificate or associate's degree program. Job growth for medical secretaries in particular should be much faster than average in the coming decade, and earning a voluntary certification may enhance job prospects.

Essential Information

Hospital unit secretaries are administrative professionals responsible for duties like appointment scheduling and patient recordkeeping. They usually get their training through certificate and associate's degree programs for health unit coordinators or medical secretaries. Some courses are available online. These programs usually include internships and clinical experience in a medical setting. Voluntary certification is available through professional organizations and can offer opportunities for networking and keeping up with developments in the field.

Education Requirements Certificate or associate's degree for medical secretaries
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 16% (all medical secretaries)
Mean Wage (2018)* $74,680 (medical secretaries in general medical and surgical hospitals)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Career Information

Hospital unit secretaries work in an administrative capacity to keep hospital patient care units running efficiently. Though they are not responsible for patient care, these professionals might interact with patients for tasks like scheduling tests and directing patients around the hospital. Hospital unit secretaries are expected to maintain a professional appearance and be willing to provide non-medical assistance to patients and hospital staff.

Hospital unit secretaries can be generally categorized as medical secretaries. However, unit secretaries are specifically characterized by their employment in hospitals and patient care centers, rather than in medical offices. They require specialized training and can be educated in programs specifically designed to train unit secretaries.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical secretaries working in hospitals earned an annual mean wage of $37,680 in 2018. From 2018-2028, the BLS predicted much faster than average job growth of 21% for medical secretaries.

Educational Requirements

Certificate and associate's degree programs can provide aspiring unit secretaries with the training necessary to enter the profession. There are even some stand-alone, non-degree classes that include hands-on clinical experiences in hospital administrative departments. These programs can refer to the career title in different ways, including hospital nursing unit secretary and medical unit secretary. Depending on the school, it might be possible to take part of your coursework online.

Regardless of the specific name of the program, they all focus on preparing students to work as unit secretaries. Topics covered in these programs typically include medical terminology, hospital procedures, office computer use and medical transcription. Many programs also include internships or other means of giving students practical experience in the field.


Although hospital unit secretaries are not required to earn licensure or certification, a professional organization known as the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC) offers voluntary certification in this field. Certification from the NAHUC can help signify commitment to the profession and can also help plug members into a network of professionals in the field.

If you are highly organized, enjoy interacting with people, and can juggle multiple tasks at once, you might consider working as a hospital unit secretary. These professionals don't provide patient care, but they are immersed in a hospital environment, requiring a special skill set that can be obtained through a certificate or associate's degree program.

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