Learn About Being a Medical Records Clerk

By Indeed Editorial Team

December 10, 2019

What does a medical records clerk do?

Medical records clerks manage patient files. They collect and file information, usually in health care facilities such as hospitals or clinics. A medical records clerk may do a combination of the following tasks:

  • File important documents such as X-rays, medical records and slips 

  • Process admission and discharge records 

  • Supply nursing staff with forms and documents 

  • Maintain patient files and face sheets 

  • Maintain strict confidentiality 

  • Review records for policy compliance

  • Create digital images of paperwork 

Average Salary

Nearly all medical records clerks work full time, 40-hours per week. Hours are generally Monday through Friday. Salaries will vary based on geographical location and experience.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $13.18 per hour

  • Some salaries range from $8.74 to $17.29 per hour.

Medical records clerk requirements

Medical records clerk jobs require specific skills and certifications: 

Education

Medical records clerks are generally required to obtain a high school diploma or GED. However, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have an associate degree. Coursework in coding systems, anatomy, physiology, data systems and health care reimbursement can be useful for the role and helpful when applying to jobs. 

Training

Training in the medical records field occurs after the hiring date. Experienced team members usually train new clerks in the data management systems of the office and additional procedures, computer programs and clerical tasks. After a few months or years in the role, many medical records clerks will pursue continuing education courses to keep them informed of best practices and evolving technology.

Certifications

There are several optional credentials available to medical records clerks. While these certifications are not usually required for entry-level employment, they can help strengthen resumes, cover letters and skillsets. 

Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)

This certification is available from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Eligibility for this credential includes completion of academic requirements, at the associate degree level, from a Health Information Management program. The final exam lasts about 3.5 hours. 

Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS)

The CEHRS exam tests your knowledge of software applications, billing, insurance, charting, reporting and regulatory compliance. This certification is available from the National Healthcareer Association (NHA). 

Skills

Medical records clerks perform a variety of administrative tasks. Medical records clerks learn the hard skills required for these positions, such as data management, through on-the-job training and certification. However, medical records clerks also need many soft skills, such as attention to detail. To be a successful medical records clerk job candidate, work towards acquiring and developing the following skills: 

Organization

Perhaps more than any other skill, medical records clerks need to be organized. They are charged with organizing sensitive patient information that must be easily accessible when needed but also stored securely in accordance with privacy regulations and practices. Medical records clerks work with both physical files and computer-based information. They should be proficient in organizing both types of files. 

Attention to detail

Similar to organizational skills, strong attention to detail will ensure that medical records clerks file information correctly every single time. When medical professionals request information for specific patients, medical records clerks need to quickly find the right files. Attention to detail serves the clerk and the office very well. 

Focus

When working with large amounts of numbers, words and other information, it is necessary to stay focused on the task and file. Medical records clerks may work on several tasks at once. With proper focus, they will complete everything on their to-do list successfully and efficiently.  

Data entry

Medical records clerks often spend much of their workdays entering data into computer programs, spreadsheets and reporting software. Quick and accurate keyboarding and keen eyesight will help them become experts at data entry. 

Computers

More and more medical records and files are digitized every day as new systems and software programs are introduced. To keep up with evolving technology, medical records clerks need to be very comfortable with computers. The more proficient with computers a medical records clerk is, the stronger job candidate they will probably be. 

Medical records clerk work environment

Medical records clerk jobs can be found in a variety of locations, though most take place in medical offices. Here are a few things that medical records clerks can expect in their work environments: 

  • Some medical records clerks will not interface with patients. They will work primarily with documents and data. This work is solitary and entails sitting down for large portions of the day. It usually involves a computer and paper files. 

  • Other medical records clerks will regularly interact with patients and medical professionals to obtain and release paperwork, patient files and other information. 

  • Medical records clerks may need to attend to multiple tasks at once. The job requires the ability to focus and manage time. 

  • Medical records clerks work indoors. Some light carrying and lifting may be required. 

How to become a medical records clerk

If you’d like to become a medical records clerk, you can follow these steps:

1. Pursue education

Nearly all medical records clerk positions require completion of a high school diploma or GED. To strengthen your resume, you might then pursue an associate degree. Further credentials can be pursued after completing an associate-level program. 

2. Gain experience

Most medical records clerk jobs will require prior experience in a medical environment and/or administrative role. You can obtain this experience through volunteer work, internships and other entry-level office jobs.

3. Build your resume

Be sure to customize the included cover letter to refer to the specific job for which you are applying. In your resume, include any educational credentials, certifications and experience. 

4. Search for jobs

You can start your job search online. You may do some in-person searching too. Consider all the different medical institutions in your area, such as hospitals, clinics, medical insurance companies and medical offices. 

Medical records clerk job description example

Our clinic is searching for a detail-oriented and experienced medical records clerk to join our administrative team. The successful candidate will provide quality reports, maintain patient medical records and ensure medical records are maintained in a manner compliant with ethical, legal and regulatory requirements of the medical services system. Desired skills include knowledge of medical terminology, excellent communication and a passion for organization.

Related Careers

There are many similar occupations related to healthcare for you to explore. Related careers include:

  • Medical receptionist 

  • Nurse

  • Medical director

  • Health administrator

  • Medical biller

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