Operating room executive secretaries use clerical and organizational skills to keep the operating room department running efficiently. A high school diploma is all that is required to get into the field; however, a formal education may improve job prospects. Operating room executive secretaries can also earn a certification to demonstrate their skills to prospective employers.
A high school diploma and skills in computers, along with specific medical clinical training are required to get into this field. However, college training is becoming the standard. O*Net Online notes that 61 percent of medical secretaries possess a high school degree and some college, while only 37 percent have only a high school diploma. Only 2 percent have an associate's degree. Regardless of the training method, operating room secretaries need a thorough understanding of medical transcription and office technology.
Operating room executive secretaries keep the department running smoothly and efficiently by greeting and processing patients, answering questions and transcribing doctor memos. These workers operate office equipment, including voice mail and phone systems, fax machines, copiers and scanners, and also maintain and organize department supplies. They receive and route messages and transmit correspondence verbally or through written form. Additional duties include taking specimens to the lab, scheduling procedures and supporting the department through updating bed statuses, keeping locator boards current and maintaining cleanliness and orderliness, such as cleaning nurses stations. Executive secretaries may also be responsible for supervising and training new clerical staff within the operating room department.
The switch to electronic medical records-keeping requires operating room executive secretaries to possess strong computer skills to manage medical databases, update patient medical histories and fill out intake forms. Operating room executive secretaries also need customer service skills to coordinate with doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff to guarantee that the operating room department is meeting all the needs of patients. Knowledge of medical procedures, medical records keeping, billing practices, healthcare privacy practices and lab procedures are also key.
Stand Out Among Your Peers
Healthcare will see abundant growth in the coming decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. While job opportunities will be plentiful, the bureau notes that secretaries with a formal education and extensive knowledge of computer software will be in the great demand and may have the opportunity to perform more complex tasks. To demonstrate medical secretarial expertise, executive secretaries could earn certification through the National Healthcareer Association -- which offers the certified medical administrative assistant credential -- or the American Medical Technologists, which offers the medical administrative specialist credential.
2016 Salary Information for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
Secretaries and administrative assistants earned a median annual salary of $38,730 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, secretaries and administrative assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $30,500, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $48,680, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 3,990,400 people were employed in the U.S. as secretaries and administrative assistants.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
- O*Net Online: Medical Secretaries
- Advocate Health Care: OR Secretary
- Presbyterian Healthcare Services: Unit Secretary, Operating Room
- HealthCareerPathway.com: Medical Secretary Certificate
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
- Career Trend: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants
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