Medical receptionists, also known as medical secretaries, need specialized training to perform clerical duties in a health care setting. They must be familiar with medical terminology, medical records, and hospital and laboratory procedures. The best medical receptionist training provides instruction in these three areas while preparing individuals to perform basic administrative tasks, such as answering phones and greeting customers.
The most typical way to obtain medical receptionist training is through community colleges or technical school programs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These programs usually result in a certificate. Although program length can vary by school, most receptionists train for several months to learn industry-specific terminology and medical office procedures. Coursework commonly includes instruction in computer software and applications, reception techniques, medical terminology, patient records, medical filing and health care ethics. A medical receptionist certificate program is the best, most well-rounded training option, as it will quickly give you the skills and education needed to pursue entry-level receptionist positions in the medical field.
On-the-job training can also provide preparation for a career as a medical receptionist. Training can last anywhere from one week to several months, depending on the employer. During this period, you will learn about the procedures, computer software and documentation used in the office. As a medical receptionist, you will also be briefed on privacy rules and how they relate to patient information. On-the-job training may not be the best training option for all receptionist positions. Some employers prefer to hire medical receptionists with college or technical education credentials.
Medical receptionists do not need a license or certification. However, you can choose to earn an optional Medical Administrative Assistant Certification awarded by the National Healthcareer Association. This certification, which is earned by passing an exam, can lead to more job opportunities and increased pay. As you prepare for the exam, you will gain important subject matter expertise and the specialized knowledge you need to work as a medical receptionist. You need one year of work experience in a medical office or a certificate from a college or technical school to take the exam. These requirements mean MAAC preparation is only a viable training option for new certificate grads or current medical receptionists with minimal experience.
Experience in Related Occupations
Experience in related occupations can provide solid, well-rounded training for medical receptionists. Examples of related occupations include medical transcription and medical billing and coding. Working in these professions allows you to become familiar with medical terminology, records management, insurance billing, diagnostic procedures and other tasks central to the medical receptionist occupation. Completion of a one-year certificate program or two-year associate degree is usually required to work as a medical transcriptionist, biller or coder.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants: What They Do
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Secretaries and Administrative Assistants: How to Become a Secretary or Administrative Assistant
- National Health Career Association: Medical Administrative Assistant Certification (CMAA)
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Transcriptionists: How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Transcriptionists: What Medical Transcriptionists Do
- U.S. News and World Report: Medical Secretary
- Guilford Technical Community College: Medical Receptionist
- Henry Ford Community College: Medical Receptionist
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Receptionists: How to Become a Receptionist
- Allied Health: Allied Health Certification Prep
Karen Schweitzer is a writer and author with 10-plus years of experience. She has written 11 non-fiction books and currently works as a senior editor for Education-Portal.com. In her spare time, she blogs and assists clients with article writing, editing, proofreading and other projects.