What is a Medical Secretary?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

A medical secretary serves as an administrator for doctors and other health care professionals. The job requires considerable understanding of the medical profession, as well as general office skills needed for any administrative position. Becoming a medical secretary can take several years of training, but can result in an excellent job for those with the ability and skills necessary to tackle this complex field.

A medical secretary may fulfill a receptionist role by greeting patients and booking appointments.
A medical secretary may fulfill a receptionist role by greeting patients and booking appointments.

Although not all medical secretaries have formal training, some colleges do offer a major in this area. One important area of training for a medical secretary involves the art and practice of dealing with health insurance agencies. This complicated part of the job requires a clear understanding of both the medical and insurance fields, and can sometimes involve mountains of paperwork. A medical secretary with a knack for handling insurance matters is often highly desirable in the working world.

A medical secretary fulfills the administrative tasks that allow a health care facility to run smoothly. Whether working at a small practice, a clinic, or a hospital, organization and time management are key skills for a medical secretary. Scheduling appointments, handling data entry for patient files, and providing patients and doctors with correct administrative forms are daily tasks for many secretaries in the field.

Computer skills are vital in the world of modern medical practice. Many filing systems are now handled entirely through computer databases, but this can lead to an enormous backlog of old files waiting to be entered into the newer systems. As more and more medical facilities switch to computerized systems, one job for a medical secretary may be entering old files into the computer to make an office paperless. This often tedious job will greatly be eased by setting up a careful and comprehensive electronic filing system that makes data entry as easy as possible.

Some medical secretaries may also serve as receptionists for a medical practice. In this job, secretaries greet patients, provide them with necessary forms, and oversee the minute to minute scheduling of the office. Good people skills are greatly beneficial in this job; it is important to remember that most patients are ill or worried, and many doctors are constantly busy and rushed. Being a calm and pleasant figure in the midst of patients and doctors can make everyone's experience more bearable.

A medical secretary plays a vital role in the health care profession. By accurately managing schedules, ensuring forms are correctly filled out, and carefully organizing the office, a secretary can help doctors and patients focus only on healing and treatment, rather than on paperwork. This noble job can sometimes be a thankless one, but when done well, it can truly make a difference in people's lives.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments


I don't think I would want to be a medical secretary, just because of all the insurance paperwork they have to deal with. Medical insurance is such a complicated topic and there is always the issue what insurance covers and what it doesn't cover. Someone has to do it though and I'm glad that there are knowledgeable, skilled medical secretaries who can handle this work.


@fBoyle-- Someone with experience in secretarial work will definitely be preferred for this position. But it may be necessary to get a certificate as a medical secretary. Since being a medical secretary requires specific knowledge about this field and a familiarity with medical terms, it will be difficult for someone with no experience in a medical environment.

My cousin is a medical secretary and she received training for it at a community college and received a certificate. Now she works as a secretary at a dentist's office. I highly recommend getting some training if you are intent on working as a medical secretary.


Can someone with experience as an office secretary become a medical secretary easily? Is on the job training an option?

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