The difference between secretaries that work in healthcare compared to those who work in other industries comes down to one thing: their skills.
It doesn’t matter what industry you work in, there are certain administrative skills that you will need to fulfill a secretarial role. However, those working in healthcare are required to have additional, specialized knowledge on top of those required in other industries. Along with these specialized skills comes additional financial reimbursement and career opportunities.
As we discuss in other articles, the healthcare industry is booming, and will not be slowing down for some time. Careers in the healthcare industry go far beyond those of doctors, nurses, and dentists. These healthcare careers are in such demand that they will be high paying and come with job security for those who are motivated and ready to put forth the effort to secure them.
Below we will outline the skills required in clerical roles, special requirements for healthcare administration careers, and the resulting wage increases they earn.
Administration skills provide a solid foundation
The following are certain secretarial skills you will need, regardless of the industry you are work.
All secretarial positions require you to know how to schedule. Whether it be appointments, travel, events or meetings, you will need to be able to arrange, book, and maintain calendars and schedules. Likely you will be scheduled for not just one person but a number of people within the office. This means you will have to maintain many calendars and ensure there are no conflicts between them.
A big part of any administrative role is dealing with the high-level of documentation businesses produce. You will need to understand filing and office organization procedures, both virtual and physical. Filing is different from business to business, so being familiar with basic organization procedures means you will be able to quickly learn new techniques in a new office.
Clerical work usually requires a lot of typing. Knowing how to type quickly is a great selling point for an administrative position. You will need to use your attention to detail to ensure the accuracy and quality of the documents you produce, including reports, correspondence, financial records, and computer databases.
To take on administrative roles you should be comfortable around computers, as nowadays that’s where most of your work will be done. You should be able to troubleshoot basic technical issues with computers and other office equipment, such as printers and photocopiers.
It is also vital that you are knowledgeable in common administrative software such as Microsoft Office Suite as well as accounting and client database systems. In our technological age, it is also vital you are familiar with internet security. Companies who employ people with no knowledge of online risks are much more likely to become online hacking victims.
If you spend any time dealing with patients, clients, or the general public, you will need to have customers service skills. If you work at the front desk of a large office, regardless of your industry, you will need to put your friendly personality and active listening skills into action to greet visitors, and answer inquiries.
You must also be able to take complaints when they arise and be able to deal with upset clients or patients. While it is not fair, sometimes the administrative assistant gets the lion’s share of customer ire, and you need to be able to calmly handle that situation.
In secretarial roles, you need to be able to write, format and edit all types of correspondence. A basic knowledge of good grammar and spelling is a great quality in an administrative role. A superior phone manner is required to deal with answering and transferring calls, using a telephone switchboard and taking messages.
An understanding of business accounting and basic bookkeeping will assist you in any clerical position. You should have money-handling experience, as well as knowledge of billing systems. Attention to detail in accounting is key, so you should be willing to check and double check your work.
Healthcare skills to make you a specialist
In health administration, you have the additional responsibility of provided quality and confidential care to patients. When there is the potential for fatal consequences if you make a mistake, it is essential that you can ensure all patient records are accurate and up-to-date.
You will need to have an understanding of the inner workings of medical insurance. Knowledge of the insurance codes and billing procedures will prove vital when dealing with insurance companies and liaising with patients. Patients do not always understand how their own insurance works, so you’ll need to be able to patiently explain things to them, especially when it comes to what is covered, what is not covered, and why.
One of the biggest differences in the skills of those working in medical administration is their understanding of medical terminology. You will need specialized knowledge of diagnostic procedures, treatments, anatomy, and physiology to ensure the data you enter into patient records is accurate.
Certifications for this kind of work will make you the most marketable candidate for positions you are applying for. Previous training and knowledge mean your potential employer will not have to spend as much time or money training you in these important medical terms.
Ethics & Confidentiality
The security of private patient information is a growing concern in healthcare. While confidentiality has always been important for medical work, the storage of data on computer and internet systems has increased the risks of data theft. Knowledge of relevant medical law and ethics is also essential.
Electronic Health Records
While all secretaries need to understand electronic records systems, healthcare-specific software is more complex. Also, there are medical repercussions if the data is not up-to-date and accurate. Therefore, you will be required to understand and use electronic health records on a daily basis.
HIPPA certifications are crucial to those in the healthcare industry. Medical offices and facilities are held to very high standards when it comes to patient privacy. They can be subject to high fines and hard hits to their reputation if they have HIPPA violations. Therefore, not only doctors and nurses but the entire staff must understand fully the ins and outs of the HIPPA rules and regulations.
Medical training results in higher pay
With a more specialized skill-set comes a higher pay rate, and this is no different for administration staff. If you are a secretary or administrative clerk, you can increase your wage by over $2 an hour simply by training for specialization in the healthcare industry.
In the U.S., secretaries earn an average of $12.87 an hour. Secretaries employed in Dallas receive 5 percent more than the national average.
By contrast, according to Payscale, the average wage for a Medical Secretary is $14.80 per hour. Texas employs the largest number of Medical Secretaries in the country and the average wages are $16.60 in Houston, $15.60 in Dallas and $16.31 in Fort Worth, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Adding typing to your medical administration toolkit can also prove lucrative. Medical Transcriptionists in the U.S. earn on average $15.28 per hour, with those employed in Dallas earning even more: over $17 per hour. If you are a secretary and you increase your typing speed and accuracy while studying medical terminology, basic anatomy, and physiology, you could potentially earn an extra $6,000 per year.
Another skill desperately needed in Texas—or any border state— is to be bilingual. Especially those who fluently speak Spanish can significantly increase not only their pay but their ability to get the position they desire. Medical offices and facilities are constantly looking for employees in any position that can help them to communicate with those patients who speak little to no English.
A higher quality of care can be given to Spanish speaking patients when there are those at multiple levels of the medical office or facility who also speak Spanish; offering this as an option to prospective customers can grow a practice faster than ever. Spanish is, of course, not the only useful foreign language. Any bilingual person might see their skill highly valued in the healthcare industry.
CCI Training Center has the resources you need to quickly train to take the certification exams for the healthcare industry. With flexible schedules and top-notch instructors who have worked or are still working in the healthcare industry, you will be able to start your career in less than a year.
CCI Training Center knows that adults who are switching careers do not have the ability to quit working in their current job while training for their new one. This is why we pack in as much information as possible to the classes you take, enabling you to only have to have two or three classes each week with many programs.
For more information on how you can add healthcare industry skills to your secretarial experience, fill out the form on our healthcare career programs page.