What is a Medical Secretary?

Medical Secretary

For a health care job that has more to do with administration and less to do with hands-on patient care, you may want to consider a medical secretary career.

These professionals typically spend their day behind a desk, working with insurance claims, paperwork issues, and checking patients in and out of the office. In many cases, a medical secretary doubles as a traditional secretary, office manager, and receptionist all in one.

Because the job of a medical secretary is so varied and comprehensive, the skills needed to succeed in the job are many. A day in the life of a medical secretary might include:

  • Answering phone calls
  • Greeting patients
  • Preparing, sending, and receiving patient correspondence
  • Maintaining accurate records
  • Setting and canceling appointments
  • Transcribing dictation
  • Completing and filing insurance forms
  • Manage the electronic database

As these tasks indicate, a good sense of organization and strong communication skills are key in being successful on the job. The right training—primarily in medical terminology, insurance forms processing, and electronic record-keeping—is needed to land many of the top medical secretary jobs.

This can either be learned on the job or in a medical secretary program, which can last anywhere from a few months to two years (and culminate in an Associate’s degree).

There is no national overseeing body for medical secretaries, so the degree or a license isn’t a requirement, but certification through an accredited program can make you more appealing to employers. In many cases, a similar degree program (such as billing/coding or transcription) can lead to medical secretary work.

Medical Secretary Outlook

Medical secretaries most often work in a private physician’s office, where patients come and go all day long. However, jobs are available in hospitals, nursing homes, home health care facilities, pharmacies, and even insurance companies.

Anywhere there needs to be a high level of organization in a health care setting, there is almost always a medical secretary present to oversee it all.

As is the case with most health care careers, the outlook for medical secretaries over the next decade is good, with new opportunities opening all the time. The average salary is around $30,000 per year, though professionals who take on more responsibilities (such as billing and coding or office management) may see a rise in that figure.


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