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How Do I Become a Ward Secretary?

T. L. Childree
T. L. Childree

A hospital ward secretary primarily performs clerical duties for doctors and nurses, but may also interact with patients from time to time. Most employers require only a high school education to begin on-the-job training, while others prefer to hire candidates with formal training. You may also want to seek voluntary professional certification in this field before you become a ward secretary. Ward secretaries who work directly with patients must complete some type of nursing assistant training to qualify for this position and professional certification may be required as well.

Most of the skills needed to become a ward secretary are gained through on-the-job training and many employers will allow you begin this career with only a high school education. You will probably be required to have basic clerical skills such as word-processing and filing before beginning your training. It might also be a good idea to volunteer at a hospital or clinic in your spare time to become familiar with basic medical facility procedures. Certain employers may require completion of a specialized training course at a community college or technical institute. These courses are designed to instruct you in the fundamentals of health-care clerical procedures and usually take less than one year to complete.

Most of the skills required to become a ward secretary can be gained from on-the-job training.
Most of the skills required to become a ward secretary can be gained from on-the-job training.

You may want to become professionally certified in this field to show prospective employers that your skills are up-to-date with current technology and legal standards. Voluntary certification can often give you a hiring advantage over other job-seekers and also allows you to become a ward secretary in any local region. In the United States, a widely-recognized, professional certification is offered by the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators. A high school education is the only prerequisite for this exam and recertification is required every three years. Continuing education courses must be completed prior to recertification to keep your knowledge and skills current.

After you become a ward secretary, you will mainly be engaged in clerical activities, but some employers may also allow you to interact with patients. You will probably be required to complete a nursing assistant training program in order to work directly with patients. These programs typically require two years of classroom instruction and are offered by many community colleges and technical schools. During your training, you will be taught the fundamentals of patient care, including bathing, dressing, feeding, and taking vital signs. Completing nursing assistant training will increase your overall skills and allow you to assume greater job responsibilities.

Once you have completed this additional training, you should also consider becoming a certified nursing assistant. Having this professional certification will assure potential employers that your knowledge and skills are in compliance with current ethical and legal standards. In the United States, a widely-accepted certification can be obtained by successfully completing the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program exam. Candidates must pass a three-part test that measures written, oral, and technical skills.

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Discussion Comments


Should a ward secretary be caring for patients? Even someone has formal training in this area, unless he or she is a nurse's assistant, I don't think that a secretary ought to be engaging with patients. A ward secretary should just greet and admit patients, give them the necessary paperwork for insurance claims and billing.


@SteamLouis-- I think that depends on what the ward secretary will be doing exactly. If he or she is just at the reception desk, then on the job training may be enough. But if the secretary will be assisting doctors with paperwork, phone calls, etc., then a certification may be required. You may be right that some hospitals and medical offices may have a preference for individuals who are certified.

Experience is really the most important quality when it comes to medical secretarial work. Familiarity with the processes that occur, the type of paperwork and the terminology is very valuable.


I think most hospitals these days require a certification for this position. There are courses at community colleges and other institutions for medical secretaries as the article mentioned. Although on the job training is important and beneficial. But I think that if three people apply for a job and only one has a medical secretary certificate, he or she will probably get the job. I could be wrong and I'm sure that it's not good to generalize. But those who have decided that this is the job that they want and are serious about it ought to take courses and get a certificate as a medical secretary.

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    • Most of the skills required to become a ward secretary can be gained from on-the-job training.
      By: diego cervo
      Most of the skills required to become a ward secretary can be gained from on-the-job training.