Job Duties for a Secretary in a Doctor's Office

Working as a secretary in a doctor's office, also called a medical secretary, requires little to no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

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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.

Essential Information

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 (2014-2024) 21% for medical secretaries*
Median Salary (2015) $33,040 for medical secretaries*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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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 2015, the annual median salary for medical secretaries was $33,040. The BLS reports that while employment for secretaries and administrative assistants in general is expected to grow slower than the average for other occupations, at 3%, from 2014-2024, medical secretaries should expect much faster growth of 21% due to the rapid growth of the medical field (

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. This job market is expected to grow at a rapid rate, and median salaries for this job were around $33,000 a year.

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