How do I Become a Medical Secretary?

T. Webster

Medical secretaries can work in a variety of settings, performing clerical work and sometimes administrative and managerial duties. Medical secretaries typically are employed in health-related fields, whether in a benefits department of a corporation or in a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic. To become a medical secretary, you need some form of specialized training.

A medical secretary may be responsible for asking patients about their medical needs before their appointments.
A medical secretary may be responsible for asking patients about their medical needs before their appointments.

Training to become a medical secretary can range from taking courses the secondary or high school level all the way up to earning a bachelor’s degree at a college. Higher levels of training can open up your options for better pay and jobs with more responsibility. The outlook for careers in the medical profession is expected to be strong no matter whether the economy is doing well or not. There tends to be an ever-present need for medical offices and the people who staff them.

Some high schools offer intensive secretarial training or specific training to become a medical secretary. Either of these programs is appropriate for entry-level positions. Another option is earning a medical secretary degree from a trade school or two-year college. Bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs also are available if you decide to move into a healthcare administration position.

An advantage of earning a certificate or degree is that many institutions will provide job placement assistance, especially for students who excel. Try to choose an accredited program or one that is endorsed by a professional medical secretary association. This helps ensure that you get the best education possible. It also signals to potential employers that your ultimate career goal is to become a medical secretary.

Medical secretarial studies can include medical insurance billing, office management, human anatomy, medical terminology and transcription. Medical billing can be a challenging part of medical secretarial studies. That is because every aspect of treatment that is given is assigned its own code.

In modern medical offices, the increased use of technology has led to increased responsibilities for medical secretaries. Generally, medical secretaries are expected to compile complex spreadsheet reports and maintain computer databases or take on managerial duties such as supervising other office workers. For the most part, the job’s main functions are obtaining, evaluating and storing information for staff or clients.

Medical secretaries also must understand all office or governmental policies as they relate to patient privacy and rights. Confidentiality of staff information must also be handled appropriately. Failing to follow these or other procedures might lead to disciplinary action or dismissal.

Great people skills also are essential. Medical secretaries are likely to have extensive contact with staff members, clients and patients and might answer the telephone, set appointments and be responsible for getting others to correctly fill out detailed information. In a doctor’s office, medical secretaries have the task of being sensitive to people seeking medical care while not overloading staff members with too many appointments.

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