Education and Training Requirements
Most employers require medical secretaries to have a high school diploma and be able to type between 60 and 90 words per minute. In order to handle more specialized duties, you must be familiar with medical terms and procedures and be able to use medical software programs. In addition, you need to have basic math skills and strong written and verbal communication skills to write up correspondence and handle patient inquiries. English, speech, and health classes will help you prepare for this career.
Many vocational, community, and business schools offer one- and two-year programs that cover the skills needed for secretarial work. For more specialized training, some schools offer medical secretarial programs, covering the basics such as typing, filing, and accounting, as well as more specialized courses on medical stenography, first aid, medical terminology, and medical office procedures.
Other Education or Training
Participating in continuing education classes is an excellent way to keep your skills up to date and become a more attractive job candidate. These opportunities are provided by local, state, and national professional associations. For example, the Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals offers classes and webinars; examples of past topics include "Administrative Assistant Fundamentals," "Medical Terminology: A Word Association Approach," and "Computer Skills for the Workplace."
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Certification is not required for a job as a medical secretary, but obtaining it may bring increased opportunities, earnings, and responsibility. The International Association of Administrative Professionals offers the certified administrative professional (CAP) designation to applicants who meet experience/education requirements and pass a rigorous exam covering a number of general secretarial topics. It also offers a technology applications specialty designation to those who have already earned the CAP designation. Contact the association for more information.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
A part-time job at a medical office will provide useful experience for aspiring medical secretaries.
To succeed as a medical secretary, you must be trustworthy and use discretion when dealing with confidential medical records. You must also have a pleasant and confident personality for handling the public and a desire to help others in a dependable and conscientious manner. Other important traits include the ability to follow directions, strong organizational skills, and the ability to work as a member of a team.