Medical secretaries deal with consultants' correspondence, making appointments, handling patients queries and liasing with other healthcare staff. Sometimes they may work under the title 'personal assistant'.
In a GP practice, they handle letters and phone calls about a range of different conditions. Working for a hospital consultant usually means medical secretaries are based in a specific department, for example, paediatrics or cardiology.
This is a responsible job, as medical secretaries are expected to use their own initiative, make decisions and deal with patients and their relatives who are worried or upset about their illness. There is significant contact with patients, GPs and other healthcare staff.
Personal assistants may work for a specific director or the chief executive, managing their diary, sending out agendas for meetings, taking minutes, dealing with correspondence and organising travel arrangements. They may also be responsible for maintaining details of certain budgets and ordering stationery. They will be responsible for booking resources such as rooms, audio-visual equipment and refreshments for meetings and other events.
They may be responsible for managing the workload of a team of secretaries ensuring that they have all of the materials (such as file documents, letter headed paper etc) and access to equipment (such as photocopiers, audio playback machines etc) that they need to do their work.
Medical secretaries and personal secretaries need good secretarial and administrative skills, holding an RSA or similar qualifications at an appropriate level. They will usually have administrative or secretarial experience and have a professional approach to their work.
A good knowledge of medical terminology is especially important for medical secretarial roles.
Medical secretaries may need to have or be prepared to work towards a diploma in medical secretary studies, awarded by the Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists (AMSPAR). Click here for details of AMSPAR courses
The British Society of Medical Secretaries and Administrators (BSMSA) runs a number of courses on various topics including medical terminology, medical secretarial studies and health administration. Click here for details of these and other BSMSA courses
Most NHS trusts advertise vacancies on the NHS Jobs website or in local press or job centres. You can also contact the personnel office/human resources department of local hospitals/trusts.
**The BSMSA offers relevant training courses
The Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators & Receptionists (AMSPAR)
Tavistock House North
Tel: 0207 3876005
Fax: 0207 3882648