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Becoming a Medical Secretary

Secretaries have an essential role in almost every industry. They are the vital cogs that keep an organisation running smoothly and make life easier for the executive and management staff so that they can function more efficiently. Becoming a secretary has always been a popular choice, so secretarial jobs attract considerable competition.


Secretarial jobs in the health sector are always sought after, as they offer the chance to work in a highly respected and ethical industry. The work is very rewarding and poses new and varied challenges on a day-to-day basis. Becoming a medical secretary, however, differs from becoming a secretary in other sectors in a number of ways.

In general, medical secretary skills are transferable across a broad range of industries. The basic requirements are the same – good computer skills, the ability to organise and excellent interpersonal and communication skills. Medical secretaries, however, usually requires not only these skills but also additional attributes demanded by working in a medical environment:

People skills – Medical secretaries are often required to deal with members of the public. In a medical environment many of these people will be under stress, sick or injured. Handling these people requires tact and compassion, with a degree of firmness.
Common sense and initiative – Dealing with the sick requires a high level of common sense and initiative, as sometimes working guidelines will not fit the situation. Medical secretaries often have to quickly assess a situation and act appropriately.
Medical terminology – A basic knowledge of medical terminology is essential for medical secretaries so that they have a greater understanding of their working environment.
Familiarity with the health service – Medical secretaries need to be fully au fait with the services offered in their place of employment and what structures are in place to ensure their efficient delivery. They also need to understand how the health service functions as a whole so that they are in a position to give helpful advice.
Confidentiality – In their role, medical secretaries will often be dealing with highly personal information relating to patients. They must, therefore be fully aware of the need to maintain confidentiality.

To become a medical secretary, applicants will at least need to be able to demonstrate general secretarial skills. An RSA or similar qualification may well be a requirement and experience in a similar role is a great advantage. Any additional qualifications required will depend on the experience and background of the individual.

Recruitment agencies like hcl fairstaff, who specialise in medical secretary jobs usually require that candidates show they are capable of working in a medical environment. Previous experience is an obvious asset but it is also advisable to gain further qualifications - the British Society of Medical Secretaries and Administrators, for example, runs courses on such aspects as medical terminology, medical administration and primary care and healthcare management.

Medical secretaries perform a vital function in the administration and delivery of healthcare. It is a challenging but rewarding role and one that will suit the skilled secretary who wants to make a difference in the lives of the sick and injured and their families.

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