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Medical Receptionist: Employment Info & Career Requirements

Learn about the skills and education a medical receptionist needs. Explore work duties, employment outlook and salary data to decide if this is a career worth considering.

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Career Definition

Medical receptionists greet patients and answer telephones, but their job responsibilities can also extend to collecting co-pays, filing medical records and making appointments. In addition, medical receptionists input patient information into electronic records systems, take messages and provide patients with general information. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that, of all receptionists, 19% worked in physicians' offices, and 7% worked in dentist offices as of 2012.

How to Become a Medical Receptionist

Education Required

Medical receptionists must have a high school diploma or GED, the BLS reports. Many community colleges and vocational schools offer training in this field that could be beneficial to aspiring medical receptionists. These short-term certificate courses include courses in healthcare ethics, medical records, software applications, communications and general office procedures.

Required Skills

Employers seek receptionists with knowledge of computer scheduling, electronic records systems and database software. Solid interpersonal skills, discretion, a talent for organization and a positive and professional demeanor are important for this position.

Employment Outlook and Salary

Aspiring medical receptionists will find strong demand for their services, according to the BLS, which projected job growth of 14% between 2012 and 2022 for all receptionists, including those in the medical field. This job growth is faster than the average for all other occupations and means that medical receptionists can find good job opportunities, especially if they are well-versed in computer technology.

This career is also flexible, with about 30% of all receptionists reporting that they worked part-time in 2012. Aspiring receptionists who would like to pursue jobs in hospitals or other medical facilities can also find weekend and evening shifts, the BLS reports. In May 2012, average annual earnings for receptionists and information clerks, including medical receptionists, were $27,050, the BLS reported.

Alternative Careers

Medical Secretary

Although some general phone and clerical duties are similar to that of a medical receptionist, medical secretaries also perform more complex tasks, such as medical records management, communicating with labs and hospitals, transcription of doctor notes, insurance billing, and preparing reports. Entering this occupation requires a high school diploma and some knowledge of medical terminology and procedures. Some of this knowledge can be obtained from college courses, but most training will occur on-the-job. The BLS predicts that the employment of all secretaries and administrative assistants will grow by 12% between 2012 and 2022. In May of 2012, it also determined that medical secretaries earned an average of $32,670 per year.

Medical Assistant

For those who desire a job with basic clinical duties in addition to administrative tasks, becoming a medical assistant could be a good career option. Medical assistants take vitals, set up exam rooms, assist with examinations, schedule tests and prepare laboratory samples. In some cases, they may also administer injections and draw blood. A high school diploma and specialized training is usually all that is required to qualify for employment. However, many employers often prefer to hire candidates who have completed an accredited certificate program at a community college or technical school. Based on projections from the BLS, almost 163,000 new medical assistant jobs will be created from 2012-2022. The average annual compensation for these workers in 2012 was $30,550.

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