The job of a medical secretary is one of the key tasks and it has to be performed by a qualified and trained member with several years experience in the field. Knowledge of medical terms is crucial.
She not only has to read the unclear and wavy writings of the GPs but translate a few remarks dictated into a meaningful memo for the hospital consultant, in case of referrals.
She should be computer literate in that she should be able to access various data about the patients from the many screens available to make notes for the referral letter.
She must know shorthand and audio typing. She must have a good command of English, particularly in writing as well as speaking.
Medical secretaries need a good qualification and are a member of Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists (AMSPAR).
AMSPAR run a variety of courses including:
- The Level 2 Diploma in Medical Administration
- The Level 3 Diploma for Medical Secretaries
- The Level 3 Certificate in Medical Administration
* The Level 3 Certificate in Medical Terminology
- Most employers will look for at least four GCSEs (A –C grades, including English).
- They would also be expected to be confident with technology and good at typing.
Taking a general secretarial course, such as the City & Guilds, OCR and London Chamber of Commerce and Industry would help one get noticed. These courses are available (full, part-time and distance learning) at many colleges and private colleges across the UK.
In recent years some of the skills of the medial secretary are absent. This is because the younger GPs formulate the referral letters from their computers and they are also not adept in dictating letters, as older generation GPs were.
Consequently, only the big surgeries have a dedicated medical secretary and smaller ones use a good receptionist to type the letters with the GP providing support in terms of corrections to the letter. Very rarely a good medical secretary’s letter would need correction.
Tasks to perform.
• Sorting of letters and posting.
• Clinical correspondences scanned first and details entered in patient’s records.
• Letters received electronically and during mid-morning should also be acted upon.
• GPs request for all dictations and action points, particularly referral letters.
• Transmit correspondence and medical records by mail, e-mail, or fax.
• Operate office equipment such as voice mail messaging systems, and use word processing, spread sheet and other software applications to prepare reports, invoices, financial statements, letters, case histories and medical records.
• Communicating with peoples outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information could be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail. Always obtain GP Partners’ approval before writing to external organisations.
• Insurance company letters should be logged according to date and passed on to the GP for action. Any insurance correspondence acted upon by the GP, should be posted to the company ONLY after ensuring the company had paid for the work.
• In this field of work, regarding payment to the surgery follow the principle ‘it is prudent to catch a bull by its horn and very difficult to catch it by the tail’. There are exemptions to certain correspondences and please ensure these are rigidly applied.
• Patients might come to get an update about their applications, test results etc. Please make sure they are informed about these. Reception staff should send to the Medical Secretary, only those patients’, whose results and other information are ready for collection. Any others should not be sent to the medical secretary. Also, they should see her at stipulated times, so that she could get on with her other pressing work.
• Contact hospital consultants and any specialists to chase results or to make appointments. Please record these appointments in the computer, as appropriate.
Skills needed are many for being a good medical secretary:
- Good in multi-tasking;
- Good and clear communication, written and verbal;
- Quite sympathetic;
- Strong IMT and organisational management;
- Extremely discreet and ability to deal with very sensitive patient medical information.
The job specifications and job descriptions for a medical secretary are given in Section 9.1.4.