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Medical Secretary

Welcome to the Medical Secretary / Medical Front Office Program

A Medical Secretary performs office-related duties utilizing specific knowledge of medical terminology and hospital, clinic, or laboratory procedures. Medical office employees go by several names (Medical Secretary, Medical Receptionist, Medical Office Specialist, Front Office Manager, Admitting Registrar, Patient Care Coordinator, or Health Unit Coordinator) and are often the first person a patient talks to on entering a medical facility. Nationally, more than two-thirds of all receptionists/secretaries work in service industries and almost half of these are located in the health service industry.  Medical secretaries work in doctors' and dentists' offices, hospitals, extended care facilities, urgent care centers, surgical centers, and clinics.  Duties typically include greeting the patient, scheduling appointments, answering the phone, taking information, referring patient questions to appropriate sources, billing patients, and compiling and recording medical charts, reports, and correspondence, and other duties as assigned by the employer. Good English, oral and written communication skills, excellent human relations skills, and a typing speed of 40-60 words per minute are strongly recommended for successful job placement.  These positions are usually entry-level and although they require no credentialing, the training and experience offered through this certificate should provide a hiring advantage to job seekers.

Typical Job Tasks

  • Answer and direct calls to appropriate staff.
  • Schedule and confirm patient diagnostic appointments, surgeries, or medical consultations.
  • Greet visitors, ascertain purpose of visit, and direct them to appropriate staff.
  • Operate office equipment, such as voice mail messaging systems, and use word processing, spreadsheet, or other software applications to prepare reports, invoices, financial statements, letters, case histories, or medical records.
  • Complete insurance or other claim forms.
  • Interview patients to complete documents, case histories, or forms, such as intake or insurance forms.
  • Receive and route messages or documents, such as laboratory results, to appropriate staff.
  • Compile and record medical charts, reports, or correspondence, using typewriter or personal computer.
  • Transmit correspondence or medical records by mail, e-mail, or fax.
  • Maintain medical records, technical library, or correspondence files.

Program Options

The estimated program length is based on full-time enrollment.  It is the student's responsibility to discuss sequencing and work out their individual schedule with a counselor or program advisor.  Any developmental coursework a student may be required to complete may increase the program length.  This certificate is not intended for university transfer.

Program Learning Outcomes:

Graduates of the Medical Secretary program will

  • Demonstrate the ability to communicate orally and in writing at a level necessary for successful employment as a medical receptionist.
  • Read, spell, understand and pronounce basic terms of medical terminology and apply them appropriately.
  • Demonstrate the skill and competence required to operate a personal computer system and the associated software as typically found in a medical office environment.
  • Achieve an industry-level proficiency in keyboarding and word processing.
  • Perform those basic office tasks and procedures that are typical in entry-level medical office positions, including reception and standard filing practices.
  • Communicate respectfully and professionally with co-workers, health care professionals, customers, patients, and their families.
  • Understand and practice the professional work habits expected in the medical office field, including confidentiality and ethical practices.
  • Possess a commitment to diversity and enhanced employability through the understanding and practice of human relations, teamwork, and patient service skills.
  • Ability to work within an integrated system of jobs and professions that make up the health care delivery system.
  • Demonstrate the ability to research employment opportunities, prepare an effective employment package, including resume, and present oneself positively in a job interview.
  • Demonstrate the mathematical skills essential to employment as a medical secretary.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking skills needed to prioritize, anticipate and analyze problems, and to evaluate and implement solutions.

Program Entry Requirements

Apply to the Admissions Office for an application to Skagit Valley College. Make an appointment to take your COMPASS Test.  It is strongly recommended that candidates be a high school graduate or have passed the General Education Equivalency (GED) exam to enroll in the program.  Students enrolled in this program may attend classes on a part-time or full-time basis.  Keyboarding skills are essential.  It is recommended students be able to type at least 30-40 wpm.  A keyboarding test may be required for entrance into some courses.  Good English, oral and written communication skills, and excellent human relations skills are essential for successful job placement. 

Career Opportunities and Job Search Information

The Occupational Information Network(O*NET) is the nation's primary source of occupational information.  The O*Net Online database is an interactive research tool for exploring and searching occupations.  The database, developed by the US Department of Labor, contains information on hundreds of standardized and occupation-specific descriptors, and provides a variety of FREE Career Exploration Tools.

43-6013.00 - Medical Secretaries

For more detailed information about Washington State healthcare employment trends, wage rates, employment opportunities, job tasks, etc. search the websites listed below:

Placement Rate

Medical Receptionist 60%