A well trained medical secretary, more commonly titled medical administrative assistant, is well regarded. Not only do these professionals make things easier for their doctor, they present a competent image to patients as well. An administrative assistant is the right arm of a doctor. This is also health care profession that is rapidly growing.
When patients visit their doctor, they want to visit a well-organized, clean, and efficient environment. This is where a medical secretary demonstrates their administrative and professional skills. Their responsibilities include ensuring that patients have a good experience from the moment they enter the doctor’s office doors. This means that good people skills are critical when working with patients and other office personal.
Medical Administrative Assistant: Duties and Responsibilities
Medical administrative assistants’ duties include one of the most complex tasks that they must learn – health insurance. They need to know what a deductible is, what a co-payment is, and how to calculate the patient’s out-of-pocket costs. This includes being familiar with insurance rules and billing practices.
There is much more to being a medical secretary than health insurance. They transcribe dictation, prepare correspondence, and assist physicians or medical scientists. They record simple medical histories, arrange for patients to be hospitalized, ordering supplies, and knowing hospital or laboratory procedures. They also prepare reports, speeches, articles, and conference proceedings.
They use a wide variety of office equipment such as fax machines, photocopiers, scanners, and videoconferencing and telephone systems. In addition, medical administrative assistants use computers to create spreadsheets, compose correspondence, manage databases, create presentations, reports, and documents.
Management Skills: Running a Medical Office Efficiently
Medical administrative assistants often supervise other secretaries and office employees as they become more experienced. They typically perform fewer clerical tasks and perform more information management. They often arrange conference calls for doctors and handle more complex responsibilities such as coordinating work performed within the office.
These administrative assistants review incoming memos, memo submissions, and reports in order to determine their significance for distribution within the medical office. They also prepare agendas and make arrangements for meetings of committees. They are often tasked with conducting research for their doctor and preparing statistical reports.
Education and Training: Requirements and Certifications
Medical secretaries need a high school or GED followed by completion of a two-year technical or vocational program in a community college or technical school. The program should lead to an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree, specifically coursework focused on medical secretary qualifications.
Representative medical secretary courses for this adult education program include:
Human Anatomy – although medical secretaries do not provide treatment or care for patients, they are the first lines of communication between patients and doctors. Medical secretaries learn the names of body parts and bodily systems in this course.
Medical Terminology – the focus is on vocabulary and phrases related to medical conditions, body parts, insurance issues, medical billing and medical office operations.
Office Technology – a large component of a medical secretary’s job includes the use of computers, copiers, faxes, and other office technology. Students learn keyboarding skills, basic personal computer operations, and basic office technology operations. Software specific to creating medical appointments and patient billing systems are also taught.
Medical Office Management – focuses on issues related to the business of working in a medical office. Medical secretaries take this course to understand the laws governing privacy in a medical office and to learn the functions of other members of a medical office.
Medical Insurance Billing – every service performed and piece of medical equipment used in a medical office is assigned a code. This code is used for billing the patient and the patient’s insurance company. Medical secretaries learn the billing and coding system in this course. They learn to initiate medical insurance appeals, communicate with insurance companies, and how to identify insurance companies’ mistakes.
Medical secretaries should pursue certification by a professional organization such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), through which they can earn the CPS (Certified Professional Secretary) or CAP (Certified Administrative Professional) designation. Medical Secretaries interested in furthering their careers in the medical field may also be certified by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA), to earn designation as a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA).
Anyone completing an adult education medical secretary program can expect a positive career outlook as the occupation is expected to grow by 125,000 jobs or a 27 percent increase by 2018 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11). Job opportunities are best for applicants with extensive knowledge of computer software applications, with advanced communication skills, and computer skills.
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