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How to Become a Medical Secretary

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that there are never enough qualified health care workers in a crisis. But what if you want to help your community and enjoy a secure job in the medical field without providing hands-on care for the sick? Is there a role for you?

There is, and it’s essential. While doctors and nurses care for the sick, they can’t do it alone. Medicine is both a science and a business, and it takes trained administrative support staff to ensure patients get the quality care they deserve.

If you’re ready for a rewarding career in health care, you can become a medical secretary in just five months by attending a program full-time.

What Does a Medical Secretary Do?

Medical secretaries tackle a wide range of administrative tasks in health care settings, such as doctors’ offices, clinics, and hospitals. Some of the responsibilities include office communication, scheduling appointments, greeting patients, managing medical records, light bookkeeping, and ordering supplies.

Office Communication

Medical secretaries answer the telephone and address inquiries by letter, email, and text. They handle correspondence and work with patients directly to solve issues related to appointments, insurance, and other medical tasks.

Medical secretaries may transcribe visit notes and assist with filling out insurance forms. By taking care of administrative issues before examinations, they fill the gap between the clerical and clinical ends of medicine, letting doctors and nurses dedicate their time to one-on-one care.

Scheduling Appointments

There’s more to managing a schedule than filling empty slots. Medical secretaries juggle time, equipment, and human resources to make the most of busy days while offering patients prompt care.

Medical secretaries have the knowledge to prioritize health issues while streamlining paperwork and keeping the schedule flowing smoothly. Satisfaction surveys show that responsive scheduling and short wait times are among patients’ top requests.

Greeting Patients

Medical secretaries are ambassadors of patient satisfaction, welcoming patients, updating their records, and preparing them for their visit. The warmth and efficiency with which they greet patients promote confidence in their care. Professionalism is a must.

Managing Medical Records

Accurate medical records ensure continuity of care. Medical secretaries update patient information at each visit for both clinical and billing purposes.

Medical secretaries also manage the storage of electronic and paper health files and handle the transfer of sensitive data between practices when referrals are made. Knowledge of electronic medical records systems and confidentiality regulations is required.

Light Bookkeeping

Most practices employ billing specialists to handle insurance claims, but as the point of patient contact before and after visits, medical secretaries collect copayments and reconcile balances. They coordinate with the billing department to keep patients informed of their financial obligations, directing them to the appropriate staff for questions about coverage or payment arrangements.

Ordering Supplies

Medical secretaries work closely with vendors to keep office supply closets stocked. Equipment and supplies are a significant part of any practice’s budget, so it’s critical to manage them carefully. Monitoring inventory and placing orders as needed is a top priority.

How to Become a Medical Secretary

Health care is a complex field, and doctors owe it to their patients to employ skilled staff. Job openings for medical support professionals are expected to increase nearly 10 percent through the next ten years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Applicants with a vocational school diploma are in high demand.

Medical secretary programs teach the basics of medicine and office procedures. Typical courses include these.

  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Word Processing
  • Medical Office Procedures
  • Electronic Medical Records Software
  • Medical Ethics and Confidentiality

Each course imparts valuable skills that replace years on the job. Graduating with a diploma in Medical Office Administration enables you to become employed as a medical secretary and gives you an advantage over other applicants in a competitive marketplace.

Medical secretary students attending full-time can graduate in just five months with the skills necessary for entry-level positions. With experience, medical secretaries might become supervisors or office managers. Getting a diploma is the first and best step to landing a job with advancement potential.

Skills for Success as a Medical Secretary

Medical secretaries are multitaskers with heart. The following are special skills and personal qualities that are the keys to success.

Skill 1: Technological Knowledge

Medical practices are fast paced. They use the most advanced equipment and technology to maximize efficiency.

Medical secretaries should feel comfortable using basic office equipment, including multiline phone systems, fax machines, copiers, and business calculators. Keyboard proficiency is essential for fast and accurate data entry.

Skill 2: Compassion

Medical secretaries deal with people at their most vulnerable, so sensitivity to their needs is critical. The ability to see things from others’ point of view and a strong sense of compassion for those in need help medical secretaries maintain a patient-centered focus.

Furthermore, patients may be scared, worried, or in pain. A warm personality disarms irritability and gives patients confidence that their needs are taken seriously. Making patients feel comfortable improves communication and sets the stage for a successful visit.

Skill 3: Communication Skills

Communication is the foundation of a medical secretary’s job. The ability to read, write, and speak with confidence is vital. Multilingual secretaries are in especially high demand, and social media skills are a plus for practices with patient outreach programs.

Skill 4: Time Management Skills

Medical secretaries are born multitaskers, but stress can mount if they can’t prioritize responsibilities. Things change quickly in health care. An afternoon set aside to catch up on filing can quickly turn into a waiting room full of flu patients. The ability to stay focused but flexible as the day evolves is critical for any medical secretary.

Skill 5: Confidentiality

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) governs how a patient’s personal health information is handled. Violating privacy standards not only lets the patient down, but it also results in financial penalties for doctors. It’s a medical secretary’s duty to safeguard sensitive data by adhering to procedures and handling records with care.

Skill 6: Attention to Detail

Medical errors cost the health care system billions in annual revenue, and they’re a major cause of unnecessary hospitalizations. Simple spelling or transcription errors can result in errors with devastating consequences. Attention to detail is critical for preventing these mistakes.

Skill 7: Reliability

Responsibilities in health care are time sensitive, and when teams work shorthanded, patients suffer. Practices want staff members who are committed to their jobs. Days off are crucial to manage stress and vacations are well-earned, but regular attendance is a must for success in the health care industry.

Skill 8: Problem-Solving Skills

Medical secretaries are problem solvers. Patients and clinical staff members depend on them to act proactively, addressing concerns before they escalate. The willingness to analyze situations and seek solutions not only ensures visits go smoothly and patients are satisfied, but it can also help improve office procedures that lighten the load for everyone.

Skill 9: Team Spirit

Health care is a team sport, but working together toward a common goal requires sound interpersonal relationships with colleagues. It takes effort.

Everyone in a medical practice, from physicians to billing specialists, has an equally important job to do. Ideal outcomes happen only when everyone contributes and works well as a unit. Medical secretaries play a leading role.

Skill 10: Love of Learning

Getting a vocational school diploma is just the beginning of what medical secretaries learn. Medicine is a dynamic field, and so much learning occurs on the job. Keeping up with advancements requires a love of learning.

Final Thoughts

Careers in health care are gratifying. It feels good to help your community in times of need, but hands-on care isn’t for everyone. If you have an interest in medicine but an aptitude for administration, consider becoming a medical secretary. Enroll in a vocational school program today, and you’ll be primed for success in no time. What are you waiting for?

Did learning about how to become a medical secretary interest you? Want to learn more about this exciting new career as a medical secretary?

The Medical Office Administration program prepares students with the skills and training necessary to provide excellent administrative support while working and playing a key role in running an efficient, productive office in a variety of medical and business environments.

Medical Office Administration program students receive an in-depth education in computer data entry of patient information, patient files, filing systems and records, insurance claim filing, billing, and coding.

Contact us today to find out more about how to become a medical secretary on Long Island.