Several community, technical, and business colleges throughout the United States offer online medical secretary certificate and diploma programs. These programs generally supply students with the basic office skills and medical knowledge they need to begin working in this field. Some programs are fully online, while others include both online and on-campus coursework.
Formal postsecondary education isn't always required for secretaries in general, but medical secretaries in particular typically need some educational background in medical terminology and medical practices. Majors that offer education in these areas include medical administration, medical assisting, and medical transcription.
Medical Secretary Certificates and Diplomas
Most online medical secretary programs emphasize medical terminology, medical office procedures and administrative office skills. An online medical secretary program can take 1-2 years to complete and result in either a certificate or diploma. Students can also prepare to become medical secretaries by completing an online certificate or diploma program in medical assisting or medical transcription.
Information and Requirements
While many distance education programs for aspiring medical secretaries are conducted entirely online, some are presented in a combination of on-campus and online classes. In some programs, courses in an online medical secretary certificate or diploma program are taken in a specific sequence. Many programs require students to take between 10-15 credits each semester, though in some cases up to 18 credits per semester must be taken.
Program coursework for online medical secretary certificate and diploma programs generally includes courses in medical transcription, medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, medical insurance billing and coding and medical office procedures. Students might also take introductory and advanced courses in keyboarding, word processing, bookkeeping and computer applications.
These courses help students to build a medical vocabulary. Students study spellings, definitions, word roots, abbreviations and pronunciation.
Students in medical transcription courses develop speed and accuracy skills to transcribe medical notes and records. Courses address the use of voice dictation computer software, proofreading and editing.
Medical Office Procedures
Medical record filing, medical billing, computer operations, medical documents and medical insurance forms are some of the topics likely to be addressed in basic and advanced medical office procedures courses. Medical ethics might also be discussed.
Medical Insurance Coding and Billing
Students of these courses learn how to prepare and process various types of medical insurance forms. Coding classification systems are also covered.
In addition to medical secretaries, graduates of an online medical secretary certificate or diploma program can pursue careers as medical transcriptionists, medical assistants, medical coding specialists or receptionists. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for medical secretaries was expected to be approximately 21%, much faster than the average for all occupations, between 2014 and 2024. The BLS further reported that the median annual salary for medical secretaries was $33,040 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Medical secretaries are likely to require continued education due to changing medical office technologies, i.e. updated software or systems used in medical offices. Continuing education might include training sessions held by manufacturers.
Medical secretaries who are required to do medical coding as part of their job duties will have to take continuing education courses to update their coding skills with the introduction of the ICD-10 system in 2013. Training programs will provide instruction on implementing the changes as well as using coding manuals for the new system.
Individuals seeking supervisory or office management positions might be required to obtain a degree. Some schools offer distance education programs leading to an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science in Medical Office Administration.
Online certificate and diploma programs for medical secretaries provide a basic introduction to the medical field and an overview of the administrative tasks students can expect to undertake in medical offices. When they finish, they may consider pursuing a broader degree program in a related field such as medical office administration, which can also be found online.