Medical Admin Assistants
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||509,640|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||4.5%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||27,840|
- Employers are increasingly moving towards hiring individuals who have received some training, such as a certificate, in medical administrative work and billing/coding at a technical school.
- Many smaller medical offices hire secretaries who hold only a high school diploma.
What you study:
If you pursue a vocational degree as a medical secretary, you will study all of the following:
- Medical Terminology
- Medical Billing/Coding
- Medical Office Technology
- Office Administration and Personnel Management
A brief introduction to the work of medical administrative assistants. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
As a medical secretary, it is your duty to arrive at the office or clinic where you work about 15 minutes before any patients arrive. If you work in a hospital or 24-hour clinic, you may work late-night shifts. You currently work in a private medical office, but you have also worked in a large public health clinic. Some medical secretaries also work in mental health facilities. Those secretaries who work in small private offices generally handle reception duties in addition to administration duties.
When you get to the office, you check for phone messages. A patient called to cancel her appointment late last night, so you make a note on the schedule and call another patient who has been waiting for an appointment to open up. You work with the other administrative staff in your office to pull all the needed patient charts for the day and arrange them.
Two patients walk into the office right after the front door has been opened. The receptionist greets them and gives them paperwork that they need to fill out. After they have completed the paperwork, you put it in their individual charts and quickly review it for any information that needs to be updated in their patient records. You notice that the insurance information you have for one of the patients is expired, so you ask him if you can copy his new card.
The doctor you work for comes out of his first appointment and asks you if you can enter the notes that he has taken about a patient diagnosis into the medical tracking program. You enter the information, then make sure that it is coded correctly so that the patient's insurance company will pay for at least a portion of the exams that the doctor has ordered. You give the patient all the paperwork she needs to have off-site exams completed.
After lunch, you take advantage of a lull in appointments to assess the office's supply levels. You see that you need another printer cartridge and other miscellaneous supplies. You prepare an order and fax it to an office supply company. You'll keep a copy of the order in your files so that you can review the supplies that you are sent. You are responsible for managing front office finances and must carefully track all of your expenditures.
Before heading home for the day, you review several resumes that have been emailed to you in response to a job posting for a receptionist. You see that three of the candidates have prior medical office experience, so you call them to arrange interviews. As the office staff leaves for the evening, you do a final check of the area to ensure that all sensitive medical files are stored securely. You look over the appointment schedule for tomorrow and give the doctor an update on tomorrow's patients.
Certifications and Licensing
No formal certifications is needed to work as a medical secretary. However, most employers prefer to hire secretaries who have previous training in a medical setting.
Career advancement opportunities are good for medical secretaries who work in large facilities and want to ascend to positions as facility administrators. Individuals who have degrees in medical office administration are more like to be awarded such positions.
As a medical secretary, you may work in a private medical office, a hospital or a large medical center. If you work in a large medical facility, you may spend more than half of your day on your feet.
- Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists: The AMSPAR website offers information about training and certification for medical office support staff. Prospective medical secretaries will find the portion of the site dedicated to useful links particularly helpful.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants: This U.S. Department of Labor site provides general information about secretarial careers. Individuals who are interested in learning more about employment outlooks and average salaries in this field will find the BLS site helpful. However, it's also important to consult more qualitative sources for a well-rounded view of medical secretary careers.
- National Association Medical Staff Services: While NAMSS is primarily dedicated to serving medical staffing professionals, the group's website provides excellent information about training and certification for medical support professionals on its website. Newcomers to the field may be particularly interested in perusing the association's career center.