Most healthcare facilities employ medical secretaries and administrative assistants to perform and coordinate office activities and to ensure that information gets disseminated in a timely fashion to staff and patients. They schedule appointments, give information to callers, organize and maintain files, and fill out forms. They also take dictation and may transcribe notes that physcians dictate on patients’ medical conditions. Most medical secretaries and assistants need to be familiar with insurance rules, billing practices and hospital, clinic or laboratory procedures.
Specific job duties vary with experience and titles. Generally, administrative assistants provide high-level administrative support and perform fewer clerical tasks and more information management than do secretaries. Job duties will also vary depending on the type of facility where one is employed. In a hospital, medical secretaries and administrative assistants may work in specific departments, such as Nursing, Purchasing, or Administration. In a physician office or group practice, the job responsibilities may encompass a wider range of tasks.
- Physician, dentist and other healthcare practitioners’ offices
- Outpatient care centers and other medical offices
Most medical secretaries and administrative assistants work in an office setting. The majority work a standard 40-hour week. Most work onsite at hospital or medical office, but some may work as virtual assistants from home.
Employment of medical secretaries is expected to increase 27 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not keep specific records on medical administrative assistants, but projects an overall increase of 11 percent from 2008 to 2018 for administrative assistants in all areas. Healthcare is the fastest growing sector of the economy, largely due to an expanding elderly population which will require more medical services and healthcare reform which will increase the number of people accessing care. Because healthcare is a growing industry, job growth for both medical secretaries and administrative assistants should be good.
- Ability to learn office procedures
- Good communication skills, both verbal and written
- Good eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity
- Ability to move from one task to another quickly
- Ability to work with people
- Ability to work within set standards and keep accurate records
- Attention to detail and proofreading skills
Medical secretaries must be high school graduates and most employers prefer applicants with some training beyond high school. Administrative assistants usually need at least an associate degree.
Licensing is not required, but a secretary may become a Certified Professional Secretary by passing a series of exams given by Professional Secretaries International
Programs in Nebraska
- Central Community College – Columbus, Grand Island, Hastings (Diploma, Associate)
- Metropolitan Community College – Omaha (Associate)
- Mid-Plains Community College – McCook, North Platte (Associate)
- Northeast Community College – Norfolk (Certificate, Associate)
- Southeast Community College – Beatrice, Lincoln (Associate)
Related / Links
Other careers that involve similar work:
- International Association of Administrative Professionals
- Lincoln Chapter: International Association of Administrative Professionals
- Omaha Chapter: International Association of Administrative Professionals
Career information adapted in part from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handook, 2010-2011 Edition, Secretaries and Administrative Assistants, on the Internet at www.bls.gov