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.
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 solid foundation
There are certain secretarial skills you will need, regardless of the industry you are working in.
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.
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.
Clerical work usually requires a lot of typing. 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.
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, answer inquiries, and take complaints.
In secretarial roles you need to be able to write, format, and edit all types of correspondence. 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.
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 how medical insurance works. Knowledge of the insurance codes and billing procedures will prove vital when dealing with insurance companies and liaising with patients.
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.
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 data is not up-to-date and accurate. Therefore, you will be required to understand and use electronic health records on a daily basis.
Medical training results in higher pays
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 administration 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.
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.