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Becoming A Medical Secretary - Career Guide

how to become a medical secretary

U.S. News and World Report recently rated medical secretary careers as one of the best healthcare support jobs. Those who are medical secretaries work well into their 60s, which shows you that you’re thinking about a highly satisfying career choice. Because the territory of being a medical secretary comes with a great work-life balance, you’ll be able to enjoy all aspects of your life without the pressures of a highly stressful job. Find a medical secretary school near you.

What A Medical Secretary Is

Who runs the office? Medical secretaries! They hold down the fort that is the medical practice. They are the glue that holds things together when it comes to the health industries administrative and supportive duties. Not only do medical secretaries know the ins and outs of their own job details, but also they have major working knowledge of medical terminology, medical procedures, and business practices. They are fully aware of everything that goes on inside their employers’ medical practices. Since they are talking to patients and medical staff all day—and are usually the first person you’ll see when walking into a medical facility—they become the link between patient and physician. Their job is primarily office related, and they work in places like hospitals, private practices, labs, pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, and anywhere within the industry that a medical secretary is a necessity.

What a Medical Secretary Does

Medical secretaries are busy people. Once you start your job as a medical secretary, you will be the one scheduling appointments, interacting with patients when the walk into the office, helping patients with all the forms, taking care of all the medical files (and, depending on the size of the office, there can be a TON of files), and essentially organizing the massive volume of data pouring into the office on a daily basis. Without you, the whole structure of the office would collapse. All that great power you have does come with equal amounts of responsibility! Here’s a bullet-point look at the type of work you’ll be doing, all while sticking to the industry’s professional standards and guidelines set by the local, state, and federal governments:

  • Maintain the physician and patient schedule
  • Paperwork for both the doctor and the patient
  • Schedule follow up exams for patient
  • Collect all the appropriate information from the patient for billing
  • Schedule surgeries
  • Maintaining the office supplies
  • Be the primary contact for patients and referring doctors
  • Screen and sort office emails and phone calls
  • Patient and third-party billing
  • Transcribing the physician’s dictations (and sometimes trying to translate their written documents)
  • Depending on what type of facility you’re working in, you may have to do some writing
  • Handle the reps that come into the office to push their wares

Medical Secretary Skills

You aren’t sure you have the skills or temperament to work as a medical secretary, right? Some of the necessary talents will be taught to you, while others are innate. However, if you are lacking in any of the areas, don’t fret; very often, they can be learned behavior. In other words, you can fake it till you make it. If being a medical secretary is what you want to do, then you’ll do whatever it takes to achieve it.

  • Organizational skills are important. You’re in charge of all the files and, in many instances, there are a massive amount of them.
  • Have a warm and sunny disposition. You are the first face patients see, so you set the tone of their visit.
  • Communication skills are imperative. Know how to talk to patients and medical staff.
  • Pay attention to details; there are a lot of them in your line of work.
  • Take privacy seriously. You can’t be a gossip.
  • Have the backs of others in the office; you’re the go-to person for team support.
  • Stay on top of what is going on. You’re going to have to be the deadline dominator.
  • Keep calm and medical secretary on, even when others are stressing out.
  • Work well independently, but be a good team member too.
  • Enjoy research. You will always need to learn new things. If you aren’t a fan now, just think about how much smarter it will make you feel once you’re done.
  • Be good with computers. Actually, be so great with computers that it’s almost like you are one.

Prerequisites for a Certification Program

So, after looking at the duties and inspecting the qualities, you think that becoming a medical secretary is the perfect way to go for you. First of all, you need to have either your high school diploma or GED prior to starting your medical secretary training program. Also, it’s a good idea to spend a couple days shadowing a medical secretary. You can get an idea of what’s in store for the future you. Find a medical secretary school near you.

Trade schools and community colleges have two-year certificate programs for the medical secretary track. Some employers will provide on-the-job training but the formal education, combined with the right certifications, are pretty important for any future jobs with a larger paycheck. In your medical training program, you’ll learn about business communication, medical terminology, anatomy, insurance claims, transcription, and database management. Many of the programs offered in trade and college have a similar curriculum, but the class titles may be different.

There are decent online medical secretary programs available. Of course, you can mix it up a bit too. Take some online, and some in class. Either way you choose, the curriculum is pretty standard, so you really can’t go wrong. Do what’s convenient; it’s going to take discipline regardless, because you have to attend and pass your courses.

Professional organizations offer certifications for medical secretaries. Just as a side note, if there are certifications offered for your field, it’s usually a good idea to go after them. It makes you more hirable, and you could see a bigger salary from it as well. Some certifications available are through International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), which offers the Certified Administrative Professional certification. The American Association of Medical Assistants is where you can earn the Certified Medical Assistant designation, which will add another facet to your skill set.

Medical Secretary Job Growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is an expected slight decline of demand for medical secretaries of 7 percent by 2030. It's not to say the career isn't a promising one, however. As healthcare continues to be a necessary profession, the need for medical secretaries will still exist.

Medical Secretary Salary Info in 2021

Medical secretaries have pretty standard 9-5 jobs, with very few weekend and evening hours if they work in a private medical practice or clinic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that medical secretaries in 2021 made an average of $38,090. Note, however, that salaries can look very different depending on where you live, your experience level, and which section of the medical industry you’re in.

States Paying The Highest Salaries









Rhode Island


Your career as a medical secretary easily lends itself to a couple of other options that are related to the medical field. Some medical secretaries decide to go into medical records and health information, which has a really great job outlook and a median salary of over $40K. Another option is medical assisting; this career will combine both clinical and administrative duties.

Becoming a medical secretary means that you can work anywhere in the U.S.; the skills you have are transferable and marketable. With the proper training, education, and certifications, you will be entering a career that is both rewarding and satisfying. There’s nothing better than that!