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Medical Secretary: Career Information

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Job Description:

A medical secretary performs clerical duties in a medical office. His or her tasks typically include typing, maintaining files and billing. There is quite a bit of public interaction in this occupation as well. He or she takes phone calls, makes appointments and greets patients upon their arrival. Like others who work in health care support careers, a medical secretary's work is necessary to the functioning of any facility that provides patient care.

To do their jobs, medical secretaries use a variety of office equipment including computers, fax machines, scanners and multi-line telephone systems. They utilize their knowledge of medical terminology, health insurance rules and medical billing procedures.

Employment Facts:

There were about 509,000 people employed in this occupation in the United States, as of 2011. Medical secretaries can find jobs in doctors', dentists' and other health practitioners' offices and in hospitals, outpatient care centers and medical laboratories.

Educational Requirements:

Medical secretaries typically need a high school or equivalency diploma. They must have basic office skills and knowledge of medical terminology which they can obtain through classroom instruction or on the job. Community colleges and vocational-technical schools, and even some high schools, offer formal training programs.

Why Do You Need to Know About Educational Requirements?

Other Requirements:

If you want to be a medical secretary, you need excellent computer skills. You should be able to use email, word processing software and spreadsheets, in addition to software used for record keeping and billing. Good interpersonal skills are a must. They will help you in your interaction with patients, doctors or other healthcare professionals, and colleagues. Good organizational skills are vital to the functioning of a medical office. Since a medical secretary often communicates with others in writing, he or she must be skilled in this area as well.

Advancement Opportunities:

As you gain experience and pick up more advanced skills, you might be eligible for jobs that have greater responsibility.

Why Do You Need to Know About Advancement?

Job Outlook:

The job outlook for medical secretaries is excellent. Employment is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations, predicts the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. It appears at the top of a list of the fastest growing occupations that require only a high school diploma (The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Why Do You Need to Know About Job Outlook?

Earnings:

Medical secretaries earned median hourly wages of $14.51 and a median annual salary of $30,190 in 2011.

Use the Salary Wizard at Salary.com to find out how much a Medical Secretary currently earns in your city.

A Day in a Medical Secretary's Life:

On a typical day a medical secretary's tasks might include:

  • answering telephones
  • scheduling appointments
  • routing phone calls to appropriate staff
  • taking messages
  • typing correspondence
  • preparing financial reports
  • transcribing written information
  • greeting patients
  • helping patients complete intake forms
  • completing insurance forms
  • receiving laboratory results and routing them to appropriate staff
  • maintaining medical files
  • communicating with insurance companies
  • communicating with the offices of other healthcare providers
  • maintaining inventory of forms and supplies
  • preparing bills
  • coordinating staff members' schedules
  • receiving payment from patients

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Office-and-Administrative-Support/Secretaries-and-administrative-assistants.htm (visited January 14, 2013).
Employment and Training Administration, US Department of Labor, O*NET Online, Medical Secretary, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/link/details/43-6013.00 (visited January 14, 2013)
Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2011 (visited January 14, 2013) .

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