Hospital receptionists should have basic knowledge of medical terminology, billing and collections. They should also be familiar with Microsoft Office programs, including Word and Excel. Success in this role requires an outgoing and communicative personality with the ability to multitask as well.
Few employers require hospital receptionists to have formal educations beyond a high school diploma or GED, though many employers prefer to hire receptionists who are familiar with medical coding and medical scheduling computer programs, while others may require receptionists to type 35 words per minute or more.
To increase employment opportunities, hospital receptionists may enroll in medical receptionist certificate programs at community or vocational colleges. These programs are commonly available online and require a high school diploma or GED for admission.
Medical Receptionist Certificate
A medical receptionist certificate program typically requires one or two semesters to complete and prepares students to work as receptionists in various medical settings, including hospitals, medical clinics and physician's offices. Students learn how to admit patients, record basic medical data and perform billing and collection procedures. Some programs provide externship opportunities. Typical courses include the following:
- Medical terminology
- Health care processes
- Patient care and admission
- Hospital office procedures
- Medical computer use
- Medical billing and insurance
Licensing and Continuing Education
Most hospitals require receptionists to have 6-24 months of clerical experience; however, entry-level positions are available for receptionists with no professional experience. Many employers provide on-the-job training programs. To gain experience, some receptionists participate in externships after receiving their medical receptionist certificates.
There are no professional licenses or certifications for hospital receptionists. Instead, hiring decisions are based on clerical and medical office experience, educational background, medical terminology familiarity, medical coding knowledge and relevant computer skills.
Vocational and community colleges with medical receptionist programs may offer 1- or 2-day workshops and seminars on medical terminology, medical billing and other aspects of the field. Hospitals may also offer workshops as part of their on-the-job training programs. Employer-sponsored workshops may focus on a hospital's medical computer system, patient admission procedures or medical coding information.
With significant experience, hospital receptionists can take on greater responsibilities and obtain related administrative positions. Receptionists with more than 3-5 years of experience can become hospital office managers or supervisors. Experience in medical billing and insurance allows receptionists to become medical insurance verification specialists who assist patients with insurance-related tasks. Hospital receptionists may also continue to develop professionally by staying current on hospital computer system technology and office software programs.
Hospital receptionists who wish to increase their employability may consider enrolling in a medical receptionist certificate program to receive instruction in medical billing and general office procedures.