CHOOSING A CAREER / AUG. 06, 2014
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How to Become a Medical Secretary

A medical secretary, as the name suggests, is a secretary that specialises in office administration within the healthcare industry.

It can be a demanding job, especially when dealing with potentially upsetting medical issues but if you have all the necessary secretarial skills and an interest in public healthcare, this role may well be ideal for you.

What do Medical Secretaries do?

Basically, a medical secretary provides assistance and support to doctors, consultants and other healthcare professionals to enable the efficient and quick treatment of patients.

Medical secretaries are employed wherever medical services are provided, such as at GP surgeries, hospitals, university research centres and private practices. The NHS is a major employer of medical secretaries.

The key duty of a medical secretary is to liaise between patients and healthcare professionals throughout the whole treatment process. This involves arranging patient appointments and updating healthcare professionals’ diaries accordingly. If any patient samples are collected, a medical secretary is required to send them to the correct institutions for further analysis and then update the patients’ records.

A medical secretary is also required to make sure the office runs smoothly both in terms of expenditure and general administration. If there are other staff members in the office, an element of staff management may be part of a medical secretary’s role too.

Salary

Medical secretaries working for the NHS will start on a salary of around £16,000. This figure will rise based on experience and positions of responsibility. Salaries in the private sector will vary, but it could be possible to earn more.

Starting Salary

Within the NHS, starting salaries range from £16,271 to £19,268 a year (from National Careers Service).

Average Salary

According to payscale, the average hourly rate is £8.58.

With Experience

In a NHS managerial role, salaries start at between £21,388 and £25,783

Skills Required

One of the most important skills for a medical secretary to possess is the ability to deal effectively with patients who will understandably be concerned about their health issues. This requires a large degree of tact, patience and understanding. Other important skills include:

- Accurate and speedy typing skills
- Good IT knowledge
- The ability to organise an office efficiently and effectively
- Good communication and inter-personal skills
- Discretion when dealing with confidential information
- Self-motivation and the ability to work without supervision

Qualifications and Entry Requirements

Qualifications aren’t necessarily a requirement for entry into a role as a medical secretary. However, good secretarial skills are essential and possessing at least four GCSES (grades A-C) including English is a significant advantage when applying for jobs.

Some experience working in an office may also be beneficial, so if possible try and arrange some work experience with a local business before applying for jobs.

Given the slightly specialised nature of the job, some knowledge of medical terminology could also be helpful in your job search. Two organisations offer industry recognised qualifications:

AMSPAR (The Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists)
BSMSA (The British Society of Medical Secretaries and Administrators)

In conjunction with City and Guilds, AMSPAR offers fourteen qualifications which can be studied either full-time or part-time. These include The Level 2 Award in Medical Terminology and The Level 2 Award in Medical Terminology.

BSMSA offers a mixture of City and Guilds qualifications and their own in-house qualifications such as the BSMSA Certificate in Medical Terminology.

Career Prospects and Development

Arguably, the NHS offers the best career prospects over the longer term for medical secretaries. Visit the NHS website for advice on how best to approach a career within the NHS; you will also be able to search for current job vacancies.

Regardless of where you work, it is always advisable to refresh your skills every few years. As mentioned above, taking AMSPAR and BSMSA courses will help not only maintain your current skillset but will also enhance your chances of gaining better-paid jobs.

While not everyone will want to perform this role. If you can type at a rate of at least 60 words a minute while listening to a dictated notes and are interested in medicine. This may be the right career for you.

 

Photo from Pixabay

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