Duties and responsibilities
Medical secretaries perform clerical and administrative duties in health professional settings, where they are relied upon by physicians, medical staff and patients. They play a crucial role in providing patient care by handling insurance forms, billing patients, maintaining files and typing correspondence. The general duties and responsibilities of a medical secretary tend to include:
- Answering phone calls and either delegating them to the correct medical professional or taking messages
- Managing calendars and scheduling staff meetings
- Preparing invoices, reports, memos and documents
- Scheduling patient appointments and surgeries and sending appointment reminders and follow-ups via calls or emails
- Processing patient billing and medical insurance claims
- Managing databases and filing systems
To become a medical secretary, you will need a high school diploma to get an entry-level position, and experience in the field to get higher-level positions. Once hired, you will receive training, that can last for a few months, to teach you about administrative and clerical duties and to teach you the specific medical terminology and processes. Due to the understanding and knowledge of certain medical procedures that is required, some employers prefer to hire medical secretaries with a bachelors degree in relevant field.
Skills and relevant work experience
To be a successful medical secretary, you will need the following skills:
- Organisation skills are essential as medical secretaries are responsible for keeping on top of diaries, calendars and paperwork of healthcare professionals
- Decision making skills are key as medical secretaries will need to prioritize tasks and make decisions, meaning that good judgement is absolutely essential
- Technology skills are also key as medical secretaries will need to use different software programs, such as Microsoft office, to keep documents updated. They will also need to use fax machines and multi-line telephones to communicate with clients
- Interpersonal skills are essential as medical secretaries are required to interact with patients and medical staff. On top of this, verbal and written communication skills are essential for patient interaction and for maintaining documents
Medical secretaries tend to work normal full time hours (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm). However, they may sometimes have to work weekends, evenings or holidays if working in healthcare settings that require 24/7 administrative support.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for secretaries and administrative assistants in the United States was $39,850 in 2019. The lowest 10% earned less than $25,720 and the highest 10% earned more than $65,510. Medical secretaries were the lowest paid administrative support staff, receiving a median average salary of $36,580 per year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the employment of medical secretaries is projected to grow 16 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is thought to be due to the aging population requiring more medical services, which means more administrative staff are needed to process the paperwork. Therefore, a career as a medical secretary is one that offers many employment opportunities.
With further training and experience, medical secretaries could become responsible for managing a team of secretaries or they could progress to office management roles.