A medical records clerk creates medical files and tracks their location. She also ensures medical information is filed appropriately and keeps records up-to-date. She upholds privacy laws and keeps medical information confidential. The medical records clerk must be familiar with policies and procedures. Because of the vast skill required, many employers seek medical records clerks who have experience or training. But some will take a chance on the right inexperienced candidate. Are you up to the job? If so, keep in mind that the length of time to become a medical records clerk varies. Training can take as long as two years in college, or as quick as a stroll across the stage at your high school graduation.
One avenue of approach to becoming a medical records clerk is to get an associate degree. Many community colleges offer associate degrees with concentrations in medical records and administration. This is a good option if you wish to expand your medical administrative skills beyond records. However, this is probably the longest route; an associate degree typically takes two years to complete. But before you choose a quicker option, remember that only 10 percent of medical records technicians have degrees. This makes you more competitive than your counterparts without degrees.
Joining the military can quickly get you on the road to becoming a medical records clerk. The length of time to actually begin working in the field depends on a few variables. You first have to enlist. Then you might have to wait a few weeks or a few months to become active. After this, you will complete basic training and go on to your advanced training for your military specialty. Each branch of service has its own schools. For example, a medical records clerk in the U.S. Army is considered a patient administration specialist, and training for this military occupational specialty takes seven weeks to complete and basic training takes 10 weeks to complete. One of the perks to joining the military for your training is that the training is free.
The average technical course for medical records can range from six to nine months, depending on the school's requirements. Some programs are self-paced, and the length of time to complete them depends on your diligence. Brighton College offers an online certification program accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council. Courses offered under this plan enhance your skills in records, business English, coding and medical office procedures. Upon completion of a training program, you might be qualified to sit for the certified medical administrative assistant exam through the National Health Career Association. This might add a little bit of time to your obtaining a job, but the certification might get you higher pay or a higher position.
High School Diploma
Some employers will give you a shot with no experience required. However, they are hard to find. If you are determined to begin a career as a medical records clerk and you have no higher education or experience, you will have to be disciplined and committed to your job search. You will probably find a job vacancy eventually, but you will, at the very least, need to possess basic skills learned in high school. These can include the ability to use a computer and the skill to articulately present information. Your best option in applying your high school diploma to becoming a medical records clerk might be to play up your computer proficiency. Electronic medical records are becoming more and more popular. If you mention to a potential employer that your computer skills will enhance their medical records department, you might get hired more quickly. Then after a year, you can sit for the electronic certification exam given by the National Health Career Association.
- Monster: Medical Records Clerk Job Description
- Brighton College: Medical Records Specialist Program
- O*Net: Summary Report For 29-2071.00 - Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
- University of Phoenix: Associate of Arts with a concentration in Health Care Administration/Medical Records
- Goarmy.com: Patient Administration Specialist
- National Health Career Association: Frequently Asked Questions
- Monster: Medical Records Clerk
- National Heath Career Association: Certifications for Allied Health Professionals
Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.