Medical Secretary Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Medical Secretary, or Medical Administrative Assistant, is responsible for handling administrative and clerical tasks at a hospital or clinic. Their duties include accepting calls from patients and either answering their questions or directing their call, coordinating appointments for patients based on Doctor availability and processing invoices and payments.

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Medical Secretary duties and responsibilities

The primary duty of a Medical Secretary is to keep operations of the office running smoothly. They process patient information, insurance claims and payments. They also manage the Physician’s schedule, the office database and patient records. Other responsibilities involved with the role may include writing and preparing reports and typing and transcribing medical reports. 

Other duties may include:

  • Perform file system and database management
  • Take messages and manage a multi-line phone to handle calls
  • Process medical insurance claims and patient billing
  • Schedule staff meetings
  • Handle faxes and mail
  • Prepare reports, invoices and memos
  • Schedule appointments and surgeries, send appointment reminders and make follow-up calls or generate emails
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What does a Medical Secretary do?

Medical Secretaries are employed by medical offices to represent other medical staff at the front desk and facilitate interactions with patients. Their role is to welcome incoming patients and guide them through the process of booking an appointment or checking in to meet with a Doctor or Nurse. Medical Secretaries perform basic clerical tasks like organizing medical records, preparing reports, processing paperwork, returning messages and updating patient accounts. They help with billing tasks, communicate with insurers and facilitate referrals or prescription requests. Medical Secretaries keep track of staff schedules to make sure someone is available to meet with scheduled patients.

Medical Secretary skills and qualifications

A successful Medical Secretary candidate will have various skills and qualifications necessary for performing job duties. An applicant should have excellent written and verbal communication skills for conveying information to other support staff, visiting patients and corresponding with insurance companies and other medical professionals and offices. 

Some skills a Medical Secretary should have include:

  • Prior experience as a Medical Secretary or similar administrative role
  • Multitasking and organizational skills
  • Knowledge of medical coding, medical office procedures, regulations and medical terminology
  • Patience and discretion
  • Familiarity with the basics of bookkeeping
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Experience working with EHRs, databases and word processing and spreadsheet software
  • Knowledge of how to process insurance claims

Medical Secretary salary expectations

A Medical Secretary makes an average of $14.64 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Medical Secretary education and training requirements

The minimum educational requirement for a job as a Medical Secretary is a high school diploma or equivalent. Medical Secretaries are not required to have advanced degrees, but Executive Medical Secretaries should have a bachelor’s degree. Having a certificate from a vocational-technical school or an associate degree from a community college showing the completion of a training program in medical administration can be beneficial. Certification is voluntary, but the International Association of Administrative Professionals offers Organizational Management and Certified Administrative Professional specialty certification. 

Medical Secretary experience requirements

It is helpful if a Medical Secretary candidate has some secretarial experience, but applicants must be familiar with medical terminology and practices. The successful candidate will have one to two years of training in the form of on-the-job experience and training with other experienced support workers, which would be one to three months. 

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Frequently asked questions about Medical Secretaries


What is the difference between a Medical Secretary and a Medical Assistant?

Medical Secretaries and Medical Assistants are two important support roles in any medical practice. The main difference between Medical Secretaries and Medical Assistants is the scope of their work. Medical Secretaries interact with both patients and staff through their role at the front desk. Medical Assistants complete clerical tasks and offer clinical support to Doctors, but they have limited interactions with patients. Medical Assistants can help Medical Secretaries with filing, preparing medical records and printing paperwork to stock the office. They can also sterilize treatment rooms, stock medical equipment and take medical histories to help Doctors prepare for an appointment.


What are the daily duties of a Medical Secretary?

Medical Secretaries welcome patients as they enter the medical practice waiting room and confirm that they have an appointment. For walk-ins, they look for openings and communicate with the patient about how long they could expect to wait. They give the patients intake paperwork and explain and questions that they don’t understand. Medical Secretaries accepting incoming calls and resolve any issues or take a message. They use scheduling software or an online portal to update information about each patient’s visit, upcoming appointments and test results. Medical Secretaries coordinate appointments with laboratories and diagnostic facilities when patients require outside follow-up.


What are the characteristics of a good Medical Secretary?

Good Medical Secretaries have excellent customer service skills that help patients feel welcome and at-ease. When discussing medical information with patients, Medical Secretaries show tact and discretion to protect their privacy and uphold HIPAA standards. They are naturally organized and can uphold consistent procedures when taking patient information, sending faxes and mail, updating Doctors about their schedule, preparing invoices and communicating with insurers. Successful Medical Secretaries pay attention to their colleagues’ workflows so they can anticipate their need for administrative support and make the office more efficient. They also have a good memory that they use to support their team.


Who does a Medical Secretary report to?

Medical Secretaries generally report to a Medical Office Manager but may report directly to a Physician at small private practices that have limited office staff. On a daily basis, Medical Secretaries report to other staff members to update them on the status of different tasks. For example, they may report to a Medical Biller to communicate about the status of a patient’s account or meet with the Head Nurse to confirm nursing schedules for the upcoming week.

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