Do you have administrative experience, an interest in medicine, and great communication skills? If so, a career as a medical secretary could be ideal, but what exactly would you be doing? DMED blog takes a look at 10 tasks you will undertake as a medical secretary…
Transcription can be tricky, especially if you aren’t familiar with the specialty, or the clarity of the audio is poor. But chances are that once you settle into a role it’ll be second nature in no time.
Some practices outsource their dictation. In this case, your role in preparing documents is to ensure their accuracy and make sure they represent your practice. They should look professional, be error-free and include all relevant information.
Whether this is for your consultant’s clinic, theatre sessions, or non-clinical engagements; you will soon know your way around your practice’s various booking systems and diaries.
You are the practice’s first point of contact. The first person a patient speaks to will more often than not be you. A pleasant, approachable manner is key. You should keep in mind, however, that some people may be dealing with complex and upsetting situations. Dealing with queries in a sensitive manner is therefore essential. “It takes good interpersonal skills to be able to deal with patients in these situations, ” says Monique Van Der Berg, a member of the Designated Medical team. “You have to remain calm, listen and offer support.”
Depending on the size of your practice and the set-up of your facility, stock control may be your responsibility. You’ll develop knowledge about medical devices, clinical equipment prices and develop skills in supplier management.
As hard as consultants try, there will undoubtedly be occasions when clinic is running late. This could be because theatre has overrun, or a consultation took longer than expected. Waiting patients can quickly turn into unhappy patients, so make sure you keep them in the loop by being up front about the situation. “I believe if you are honest and up front with patients then they are more likely to understand the situation,” offers Joanne Packwood, a Designated Medical Secretary. “After all, we are all human and sometimes certain situations cannot be helped.”
Billing & insurance company liaison
In private practice, a medical secretary will have regular dealings with insurances companies to obtain authorisation for procedures and to coordinate payments. There will also be self-pay patients to deal with, so it’s important to treat sensitive information such as credit card details confidentially.
Keeping patient records secure
Working in a medical space, you will be legally obliged to keep all personal information secure. Access to this kind of data should be restricted only to those who need it. Furthermore, new regulations on data protection will be enforced from May 2018. For more information, read the DMED blog on GDPR and what you need to do to make sure your practice is ready.
Whether this relates to practice information about appointments and prices, or leaflets explaining different medical conditions, you will be dealing with healthcare information in some form or another. You may even be tasked with writing the content yourself.
Liaising with other healthcare professionals
It’s rare that a medical practice will be completely self-contained. The chances are that you will be liaising with and working with other facilities. This could include staff from other consultants’ offices, hospital staff, and insurance company staff. Everyone’s needs and requirements might not always align, so having good communication skills is absolutely vital.
Working as a medical secretary means you have the opportunity to make a real difference in patients’ lives. In addition to this, there are opportunities to develop professionally and great prospects for progression.
Designated Medical regularly recruits for new team members, and if you are a consultant looking for business support we have an experienced team of medical secretaries available with a wide range of skill sets to suit your practice needs. So, if you’re thinking of taking on a new role, or you’re looking for a highly skilled medical secretary, why not get in touch?
Designated Medical’s Liliana Scott reflects on the skills a medical secretary needs, and gives tips on how to realise your potential.
When I started writing this blog I asked myself, what tips could I give to the fellow colleagues that might read this article to make their everyday work easier? I reflected on all the work we do and found myself surprised of all our talents…
Medical terminology, IT and administration
Not only we need to have excellent administrative and organisational skills, we need to possess good knowledge of medical terminology and be familiar with medical procedures. In addition to this, we also need to have an in-depth knowledge of a doctor’s diary and workload, medical practice management software and business practices.
Discretion, sensitivity and integrity
As well as hard skills, we need to have certain soft skills. A high level of discretion to maintain confidentiality in relation to sensitive information is key. A friendly attitude and the ability to work with minimal supervision is also crucial. Add to this the ability to handle pressure and meet deadlines, have people skills to handle patients, colleagues and other members of the public. We also need to understand the habits and personality of the doctors we work for and help them have confidence that any problem that arises during the day will be fully dealt with.
Based on the above I have 3 tips to share to make your day go smoother:
LOOK AFTER YOURSELF – For eight hours a day you focus on looking after other people. Regular self-care keeps us going. Most of us spend the majority of our day at our desks, so make sure you take a proper break from your workspace and take a breather. Taking breaks is extremely beneficial, both physically and mentally.
REMEMBER THAT YOU CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE – There’s no doubt of the impact you make on patients’ lives every time you get to the office. People might not say how much you do for them but without you the place will be chaotic.
MAKE AN HONEST ASSESSMENT OF YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES – Remind yourself of your own talents. The idea that secretaries are there to type letters suggests a lack of awareness of what medical secretaries really do. We do a lot! However, we can become complacent and do things in autopilot forgetting the importance of working to high standards. For example, soft skills are a big factor in the success of medical secretaries especially because of the frequent communication with members of the public. If you try to improve your interpersonal and listening skills at work, there’s a good chance it will pay off in advancement opportunities for you.
Our team here at Designated Medical are all highly experienced in the private medical sector, and can bring all these skills and more to your medical practice. For more information contact us on 020 7952 1008, or visit our website at designatedmedical.com.
Becoming A Medical Secretary: Liliana Scott talks to the DMED Blog about how she became a medical secretary…
Having originally trained in a clinical role as a Speech & Language Therapist in Columbia, Liliana is now part of Designated Medical’s secretarial team providing support to consultants in a variety of specialities. With more than 10 years’ experience in this capacity, your practice is in safe hands with Liliana!
The medical secretary journey begins…
Liliana began her journey working for an NHS community project in South West London. This role involved providing support to 5 healthcare professionals, including GPs, district nurses and health visitors. “Every day was different,” says Liliana, who also used her language skills to provide interpretation services to the clinic. This role was based in the community and involved reaching out to and communicating with people from various backgrounds.
Following this, Liliana moved to a private healthcare company as an Office Coordinator and Team Leader and it was here that she was first introduced to the medical secretarial role. As well as providing office coordination, liaising with insurance companies, dealing with financial administration, and customer service, Liliana began producing medical reports for the healthcare professionals in the team. “This provided me with an extra level of knowledge” she says.
Before coming on board with the Designated Medical team, Liliana also worked as a Client Services Officer for a well-known private hospital. This combination of public sector and private sector experience made Liliana an excellent candidate for the Designated Medical team, as we pride ourselves on our in-depth healthcare business knowledge.
Wide range of skills
However, it is not just her extensive administrative skills that Liliana uses on a day to day basis – she also draws on her experience as a Speech & Language Therapist and the skills she developed whilst studying for her MA in Counselling. “As well as providing me with knowledge of medical terminology and human anatomy, my studies have taught me to look a little deeper in terms of being aware of different behaviours and understanding patients’ needs,” she says.
Take your next step as a Medical Secretary with Designated Medical
Here at Designated Medical we recognise the value of transferable skills, and all team members come from a strong medical background – that’s what makes us so special.
If you are interested in joining our team, we would love to hear from you – just click here to find out more about our current vacancies – or, if you are looking for medical practice support, check out our team here and if you need someone with a particular skill just get in touch and we will do our best to help find the perfect fit for your team.
Working as a secretary in a medical environment involves more than just diary management and typing; it requires an in-depth knowledge of medical terminology, communication skills that are second to none, and a commitment to providing a first class service to consultants and patients.
So how do you go about becoming a Medical Secretary? Some start in administrative positions within the NHS or private sector. Clinic Administration, Ward Clerks or Medical Receptionist roles all offer great opportunities to develop knowledge of medical terminology and facility procedures. A background as a Personal Assistant can also be hugely beneficial, as many consultants require help with more than just medical reports and clinic coordination; some Medical Secretaries will also find themselves carrying out executive PA duties such as providing support to committees, taking minutes and organising travel.
Of course, some consultants will recognise that their practice requires a more expert hand and may look for candidates with several years’ experience already under their belt, but this does not mean that there aren’t plenty of positions out there for the more junior secretary. In such a diverse industry, there are countless opportunities to develop and find the perfect role.
Medical Secretary Qualifications & Development
Whilst there is no official route to take on the road to becoming a Medical Secretary, there are undoubtedly some skills that are absolute pre-requisites if you wish to succeed in the role. IT literacy and exceptional communication skills are expected, as is a good typing speed. There are many organisations you can connect with and courses available that could set you apart from other candidates and make your application head and shoulders above the rest.
The Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators & Receptionists (AMSPAR)
Becoming a member of AMSPAR is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to both the subject matter and to producing work of a high standard. Eligibility for membership is based on your qualifications and length of service, and members can benefit from access to AMSPAR’s in-house training, with CPD materials available to all members.
City & Guilds
AMSPAR has worked together with City & Guilds (one of the UK’s leading skills development organisations) for many years, and an AMSPAR credited qualification is considered by many to be the gold standard in Medical Secretary qualifications. Nationally recognised and available in classrooms across the country or online, these courses cover a wide range of medical secretarial skills, including Level 2 and 3 courses on medical word processing and legal aspects of administration, and Primary Care/Health Management at Level 5.
British Society of Medical Secretaries & Administrators (BSMSA)
The BSMSA, a professional body and City & Guilds approved training provider, offers beginners courses and soft skills courses that focus on customer care and dealing with difficult situations; great skills for any medical secretary.
Oxford, Cambridge & RSA (OCR)
OCR – who work in partnership with educational institutes and employers – offer a huge range of qualifications and certificates in business administration, such as the Stage II or III Text Processing qualification (which includes units on audio typing and medical word processing). More information on course content and training centres can be found through the OCR website.
Some employers will also expect their teams to continue with their professional development, and maintain their knowledge on a regular basis; this can be done easily by taking short e-learning courses relating to subjects such as data governance, safeguarding patients, and health & safety.
Don’t stop me now
And once you have worked as a Medical Secretary, the opportunities don’t stop there; many go on to become practice managers, office managers, team leaders, and even use their experience in different areas of healthcare such as marketing or recruitment.
The role of a Medical Secretary should not be underestimated; it can be a complex and demanding position, and requires motivation and dedication, but ultimately the knowledge that you have contributed to a smooth patient pathway experience can be extremely rewarding. It is this commitment to the role – and the patient – that we look for here at Designated Medical in our team members. For more information on our team and their backgrounds, take a look here.
If you need a Medical Secretary or are interested in becoming one with Designated contact us on 020 7952 1008 or visit our website at designatedmedical.com.
Author – Laura Synnott – Medical Writer at Designated Medical
There will come a time in every private consultant’s working life when it dawns on them that there are just not enough hours in the day (in fact, this is probably realised quite early on in their medical career!), but whether you are only just setting out on your journey into private practice, or you are an established consultant looking for change or support, one thing can be agreed on – a good medical secretary is an essential team member if you want your practice to run as smoothly as possible.
Grow your practice
An experienced and knowledgeable medical secretary is crucial if you are in the position where you wish to grow your business. At Designated Medical, our team are on hand to help with all your business needs:
Coordinating meetings with new clients
Proactively identifying new ways of working
Collating feedback so you have your finger on the pulse when it comes to the changes that need to be made to facilitate improvements to your practice
Client and contact database management
Our medical secretaries know this industry, and do everything possible to make your practice a success.
Without a medical secretary, who will manage your clinics? Who can deal with queries on your behalf? Who will liaise with insurance companies? A medical secretary will take on these tasks, keeping your time free for what you do best – providing first class care to your patients.
Support & information
Your medical secretary, as the first point of contact for your practice, will be able to communicate to your patients exactly what they can expect in terms of service. Whether this is communicated over the phone, via email, or online, they will have an in-depth knowledge of all information relating to any treatments or procedures you offer, prices, availability, and much more – an absolute essential for any medical practice.
This in-depth knowledge is not something you will find in every candidate, which is why here at Designated Medical we only take on the very best. With Designated Medical, you can be confident that your practice is in safe and capable hands.