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Medical Secretary

Introduction

Medical secretaries are required to perform administrative duties in general health service centers, academic medical research environments, GP surgeries, and hospitals. Among their duties, they need to keep patient records accurate and up to date. They also deal with public ensuring interaction between people and the medical facility. Medical secretaries support doctors and other health care professionals by performing a wide variety of clerical and administrative tasks. These duties range from scheduling appointments to word processing to filing. Since their work is highly specialized, their job requires them to have knowledge of medical terminology and procedures, such as insurance rules, billing practices and hospital or laboratory procedures. In the last decade, the role of the medical secretary drastically evolved due to technological advancements. Computers have replaced and simplified some of the once-traditional tasks allowing medical secretaries to take on more challenging projects and responsibilities once reserved for nurses and other professional staff. Functions such as training new staff members, conducting research on the Internet, operating new office programs such as spreadsheets and multimedia presentations and operating medical equipment are good examples of some newer duties. In accordance with these technological changes, the medical secretary's main operative responsibilities have remained much the same. They still must answer phones, book appointments and run the medical office's administrative side.

Interests and Skills

Medical secretaries will have good oral and written communication skills because they constantly speak with many people on the phone, booking appointments and answering questions. They have good interpersonal skills, excellent organizational and time management skills, and have the ability to work independently or as part of a team. Since many of the clients they deal with are sick, they must be sympathetic and patient with everyone they deal with. Finally, medical secretaries must have the ability to compile and organize information.

Typical Tasks

Answering the telephone, schedule and confirm medical appointments, greet patients, and receive and communicate messages to doctors

Using word processing, spreadsheet and other software applications to prepare reports, invoices, financial statements, letters, case histories and medical records

Interviewing patients to complete intake forms and other documents

Completing insurance and other claim forms

Setting up and maintain records management systems, including classifying and coding electronic and hardcopy files

Operating sophisticated office equipment such as voice mail messaging systems

Performing other clerical and administrative functions as required, such as maintaining an inventory of supplies

Medical secretaries always work in health care settings. They may work at a desk or standing on their feet answering phones and greeting patients. Standard office hours are the norm for most medical secretaries, yet some may be required to work evenings and weekends. Those who work in hospitals and doctor's offices dealing directly with patients may regularly be exposed to contagious diseases.

Workplaces, Employers and Industries

Medical secretaries are employed by all kinds of health organizations: doctor's offices, hospitals, medical clinics and any other health care settings.

Educational Paths

There is no specific qualifications for becoming a medical secretary, however, a high school diploma and strong communication skills are required. Community colleges offer diplomas and certificates in medical administrative or secretarial positions, which can also be very beneficial and give you a competitive edge when searching for a job.

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