Typical program options for medical secretaries include a diploma, certificate or associate's degree, although medical administrative assistant programs also prepare individuals for this career. Diploma and certificate programs in the field normally take between six months and one year, providing a quicker route to a medical secretary education. However, associate's programs tend to cover additional medical topics and have a lot of courses in general education.
Students in these courses will learn about medical transcription, medical terminology and medical coding, although coding isn't always one of a medical secretary's job duties. Programs also prepare students for the administrative side of the role, covering how to perform office procedures, use a computer, write different kinds of business correspondence and use productivity software.
Here are a few common concepts taught in doctor's office secretary classes:
- Ethics and law for health professionals
- Human relations
- Human anatomy and physiology
List of Doctor's Office Secretary Courses
Medical Office Procedures Course
A doctor's office secretary performs a variety of administrative duties to keep the office running smoothly and efficiently. Duties may include everything from answering phones and typing e-mails to keeping track of patient records. This course covers general administrative duties such as telephone and mailing procedures. The course also covers secretarial duties specifically related to the health care industry. Students will learn processes in managing patient records, working with doctors, general word processing and filing procedures.
Medical Transcription and Terminology Course
Since doctor's office secretaries may come across a variety of medical terminology during the course of the day, it's important for them to be familiar with such terms. This course gives a basic background of medical words, their correct spelling and pronunciation. A medical secretary working in a doctor's office may also be charged with transcription duties, and this course also covers how to transcribe medical dictation.
Medical Coding Course
Medical coding is a language used to process medical bills for insurance companies or other reimbursement organizations. Not all programs will require a medical coding course for graduation, but because some doctor's office secretaries may play a role coding, it is beneficial for students to consider taking it. Students in this course will learn the basics of number codes for the purpose of reading patient files or communicating information to insurance companies. Specific medical coding guidelines have been set forth by the American Health Information Management Association; these will be covered in this course.
Business Communication Course
This course covers basic business skills pertaining to writing reports, presenting information and providing support for business correspondence. Because medical secretaries must face different communication situations each day, both oral and written communication skills are a big part of a business communication course. This course will develop skills in writing letters, memos and composing e-mails. Communication methods and procedures related to patient confidentiality will also be explored.
Office Management Course
A doctor's office may have an actual office manager, or it might rely on its medical secretary or doctor's secretary to perform this administrative function. An office management course covers office structures, layouts and environments that are unique to the medical environment. This course also covers office budget management and managerial skills. Upon completion, students should have an understanding of the way information is processed in an office setting, how to solve day-to-day problems and how to manage administrative duties and processes.
This is a course that may or may not be required, depending on the computer and keyboarding skills of the student. Basic keyboarding skills will be addressed in addition to application for use when putting together reports, letters or other electronic documents. A doctor's office secretary uses the computer to complete many office tasks each day, and keyboard skills are required for most positions. Students will learn keyboard finger positions and concentrate on the development of typing speed and accuracy.