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As the gatekeepers to medical offices, patient registration clerks set the tone for what a patient can expect from a medical practice. As a patient registration clerk, it’s your job to make that first impression a favorable one. It’s also your job to maintain accurate and organized records that can be retrieved in an instant.
Calm, Cool, Collected
Patient registration clerks, also known as medical receptionists or secretaries, must maintain an upbeat personality and professional demeanor to provide a positive impression for patients. You’ll need superior organizational skills to prevent yourself from misplacing a patient file or neglecting to note an appointment on a calendar. You can’t get flustered when patients have complaints and the phone repeatedly rings. Instead, you must prioritize each task and calmly address each one in due course. You also need technical skills to operate a multi-line phone and a personal computer. Familiarity with medical terminology is necessary to speak the language of doctors and nurses.
Be a People Person
The telephone is the tool of your trade. You need to address each caller’s needs promptly, but not brusquely, so you can ready yourself for the next call. You must also provide visitors direction, assuring they properly fill out insurance forms, directing them to the proper doctor in the practice and scheduling follow-up appointments if needed. Patients count on you to keep track of prescriptions and direct them to where they can obtain medical devices they need such as walking canes or nebulizers.
An important duty of patient registration clerks is to serve as the custodian of medical records, so you'll need knowledge of filing systems and scheduling software. You might have to write up memos or letters for doctors, send out emails, and open and sort mail for the practice. You might also be responsible for invoicing and some bookkeeping. Patient registration clerks need knowledge of insurance forms and practices to ensure payments are properly accounted for. You must also understand the chain of command in your medical office so you'll know which matters need a doctor’s immediate attention and which can wait.
How to Start, Succeed
According to O_Net Online, 41 percent of medical secretaries had some college but no degree as of 2013. Thirty-seven percent had a high school degree or equivalent, and 20 percent had a post-secondary certificate. Some community colleges, including those in the Lone Star College System in Texas, offer certificate programs. The National Association of Professional Receptionists also offers certification, which shows employers you meet industry standards in your profession. O_Net Online reports that medical secretaries earned a median annual income of $31,890 as of 2013.
2016 Salary Information for Receptionists
Receptionists earned a median annual salary of $27,920 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, receptionists earned a 25th percentile salary of $22,700, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $34,280, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,053,700 people were employed in the U.S. as receptionists.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Receptionists
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Information Clerk
- O*Net OnLine: Medical Secretaries
- National Association of Professional Receptionists: Certification Facts
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Receptionists
- Career Trend: Receptionists
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