What Is a Medical Secretary?

A medical secretary, also known as a medical administrative assistant, is responsible for performing clerical duties and is knowledgeable about procedures unique to a medical office. Read on to learn more about the job duties, training and economic outlook for these professionals. Schools offering Administrative Assistant degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

Medical secretaries support clinical health care professionals by handling office duties such as welcoming patients, organizing paperwork and electronic files, processing bills and operating office equipment. These professionals are expected to perform the following specific duties:

  • Greet patients and help them complete intake forms and medical histories
  • Process medical insurance claims
  • Manage databases
  • Maintain patient files and charts
  • Handle phone calls, e-mails and business correspondence
  • Schedule appointments and phone in prescription refills for patients
  • Transcribe dictation

Important Facts About Medical Secretaries

On-the-Job Training Post-educational professional training will be required
Key Skills Customer service oriented, reading comprehension, social awareness, time management, clear writing and speaking ability, critical thinking, problem solving
Professional Certification Voluntary; Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) available through the National Healthcareer Association
Similar Occupations Medical records and health information technicians, receptionists, information clerks, license clerks

Education and Training Requirements

A high school diploma is generally all that is needed to become a medical secretary, and these professionals are often trained on-the-job. To improve their chances of being hired, some prospective medical secretaries obtain general office experience first.

In addition, some technical schools and colleges offer a certificate program or a 2-year, associate degree program that provides specialized training. The course topics covered in these programs include:

  • Medical machine transcription
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Medical database management
  • Business communication
  • Medical keyboarding
  • Health insurance claims
  • Medical office procedures
  • Medical terminology
  • Business mathematics
  • Human relations
  • Pathophysiology
  • Business software applications

Places of Employment

A medical secretary may work at a variety of health care-related worksites. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, notes that most of these professionals worked for physicians' offices, general hospitals and dentists' offices in May 2014, other places of employment included:

  • Health practitioners' offices
  • Outpatient care centers
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories
  • State government
  • Junior colleges
  • Consumer good rental
  • Scientific and research development services

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS reported that medical secretaries would experience much more employment growth than other types of secretaries and administrative assistants over the 2012-2022 decade. While growth for secretaries and administrative assistants in general is expected to be at an about average rate of 12%, medical secretaries are expected to have an employment growth of 36%, which is much faster than average.

The average salary for medical secretaries was $33,530 as of May 2014, reported the BLS. Among the top employers, those working for junior colleges made the highest average salary of $40,980. Medical secretaries working for physicians' offices earned $32,340 on average, while those working for general medical and surgical hospitals averaged $33,800.

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