Medical secretaries are the administrative professionals who ensure medical offices run smoothly by reporting medical histories, scheduling appointments and handling health insurance issues. There's no mandatory education required as those entering the field will receive on-the-job training, but they may also pursue certificate programs in related fields. Those entering this field will need to learn medical terms and be well-versed with fax machines, photocopiers, and conference telephone systems.
Medical secretaries schedule client appointments, manage patient files and transcribe physician dictation, among other duties. It is possible to gain employment as a medical secretary without formal education, but most such professionals have completed formal programs or individual courses at the postsecondary level to learn medical terms and common short-hand within the medical field. Certification is not required by law, but can be helpful in a competitive employment environment.
|Required Education||None mandatory; many medical secretaries have completed courses or certificate programs in the field; on-the-job training is provided with employment|
|Certification||Voluntary through the International Association of Administrative Professionals|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||16% for medical secretaries*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$35,760 for medical secretaries*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Duties and Responsibilities of a Medical Secretary
Clerical and Administrative Duties
Secretaries have many office duties, and common clerical tasks include reporting simple medical histories, offering referrals, arranging for patients to be hospitalized, ordering office supplies and making appointments. A medical secretary also prepares a wide variety of reports, speeches, articles and conference notes.
Duties relating to Health Insurance Procedures
Duties relating to health insurance are often the most complex tasks a medical secretary performs. A secretary is required to have an extensive knowledge of common health insurance terminology and procedures, including deductibles, co-payments and benefits. Secretaries also calculate out-of-pocket costs for patients, which require a knowledge of insurances policies and common billing practices and procedures.
Duties relating to Communication Skills and Abilities
When patients visit their doctor, they expect an organized, personal and professional experience. Secretaries ensure that each patient has a personable and professional office visit from start to finish. Strong communication and people skills are virtually essential when working with patients as well as other members of the office staff.
Common Equipment Used in a Doctor's Office
A secretary in a doctor's office uses a wide variety of office equipment, such as fax machines, photocopiers, scanners and conference telephone systems. In addition, medical secretaries must be able to proficiently use a computer to create spreadsheets, compose e-mails, manage patient records and create reports.
Medical Secretary Salary and Employment Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2018, the BLS reports that while employment for secretaries and administrative assistants in general is expected to decline by 7% from 2018-2028, medical secretaries should expect much faster growth due to the rapid growth of the medical field (www.bls.gov). In May 2018, the BLS reported that medical secretaries in the 90th percentile or higher earned $51,890 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $25,390 or less per year.
Medical secretaries perform the administrative day-to-day tasks in hospitals and medical offices. While they do not need formal education, they will need to be experienced with office systems and equipment.