Because of the dynamic nature of a medical secretary's job, skills like the ability to handle multiple tasks, being organized and effective communication are extremely important. To perform their duties effectively, medical secretaries should have excellent administrative and organizational skills, people skills and the ability to handle patients and other members of the public skilfully. A high level of discretion to maintain confidentiality of sensitive information is a desirable attribute along with the ability to work with minimal supervision, handle pressure and meet deadlines. Working in hospital environments means that sometimes one is exposed stressful situations. Medical secretaries should be able to handle such situations well.
To become a medical secretary, a high school diploma is enough. Many employers will accept high school graduates and train them on the job. However, some tertiary institutions offer accredited training programs for aspiring medical secretaries who wish to get certification after completing either a certificate, diploma or degree program. Formal training combined with work experience improves one's chances of getting better jobs and higher pay.
The medical secretary training programs cover various courses including business communication, medical terminology, human anatomy and physiology, records management, database management, transcription, and insurance claims processing. Other courses include office practices and computer studies.
Prior to enrolling students into the medical secretary program, some colleges make completion of readiness tests a requirement. These tests, which commonly test students in math, reading and writing skills, prepare them for the medical administration program's course work. Online programs, which offer convenience to those who cannot attend the classes in person, are available as well. Because of the flexibility that these online courses offer, the programs are popular especially with those who are already in the job market but wish to study at the same time. However, it is important to note that online programs require commitment and discipline. One should have the right equipment to take part in the classes effectively. A computer with reliable internet connection is a basic requirement.
A career in medical administration is a good option for those who wish to work within the medical profession performing non-medical duties. Working as a secretary in a healthcare setting does not mean that one is stuck in the same position for years. This is because the career offers good prospects for career progression. With advance education and experience, one can rise to a managerial position or other senior role offering more responsibilities and rewards.