Medical receptionists greet visitors, answer the telephone, and perform clerical duties in the offices of doctors, dentists, and other health-care practitioners. The job is considered an entry-level position, with no supervisory responsibilities.

Receptionists are the first medical staffers to have contact with patients. This puts them in an important position, responsible for obtaining the information needed to direct patients to those who can provide the required care.

Medical receptionists compile and update patient records, which include health histories and insurance information. Computer skills, including proficiency with various business software, are required. Some receptionists also are responsible for billing and other office duties.

These individuals work in private medical practices, clinics with multiple practitioners, and hospitals. Government officials predicted that the number of positions in the field would increase by 14 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Medical Receptionist Job Description

The work of a medical receptionist entails a range of duties, which require various abilities. Customer-service skills are paramount, as the receptionist is the face of a medical facility. It is the person with whom patients have the most contact, on the phone and in person.

Medical receptionists create and maintain all the files in the office. Patient information, financial records, and employee folders are among the types of files that must be up-to-date and organized. There may be paper, as well as computer, files.

Receptionists make appointments and create schedules, collect information on forms from patients, send and receive emails and faxes, and copy and scan documents. The job also may involve sorting the mail or keeping the waiting room tidy.

The responsibilities of a medical receptionist include:

  • Make initial contact with patients, on the telephone and in the office;
  • Collect and file patient records;
  • Provide information and answer patients’ questions;
  • Schedule appointments for patients with the appropriate practitioners;
  • Greet and help everyone who comes in the door;
  • Answer the telephone, take messages, make referrals, and transfer callers;
  • Notify physicians when patients arrive for their appointments, and direct the patients into examining rooms;
  • Record payments, including those from insurance companies, and make other updates to patients’ files;
  • Take inventory, and order equipment and supplies as required;
  • Identify needed equipment repairs or upgrades, and either order the appropriate materials or contract for someone’s services;
  • Train employees and perform other tasks assigned by the office manager;
  • Obtain continuing education.

Medical Receptionist Prerequisites

A medical receptionist needs to possess a range of strengths, from computer savvy to people skills. The ability to effectively listen and communicate is vital, as the job involves dealing with the public and coordinating patients with doctors. Receptionists must be professional, polite, and sympathetic in working with people suffering from injuries, illness, and disease. Patients may be irritable, anxious, or emotionally upset.

Receptionists have to be able to do more than one thing at a time, like filling out forms while answering the phone and greeting visitors. They must pay close attention to details and be well organized. Because recording financial information is part of the job, receptionists require some math skills.

The physical demands are not extreme, though some employers want their receptionists to have the ability to lift 50 pounds.

How to become a Medical Receptionist

Unlike doctors, medical receptionists do not need medical degrees. In fact, no college degree of any sort is required. A high school diploma, or an equivalent document like a general-education degree, is sufficient.

However, hospitals and doctors are more likely to employ those who have attended a clinical program. Courses in such programs cover medical terminology, anatomy, physiology, first aid, and other subjects. Some programs award students associate’s degrees as medical receptionists or medical administrative assistants.

Another option is to obtain an associate’s degree in a business program that features bookkeeping, financial recordkeeping, computer skills, and related courses.

Employers generally hire receptionists who have had at least six months of training, which can be obtained by working in a medical office. After being hired, continuing education at conferences and training sessions is often mandated.

Medical Receptionist Certification

Neither a certificate from a professional organizations nor a state-issued license is required to be a medical receptionist

Medical Receptionist Salary

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Medical Receptionist Job Description Summary

Here is a short recap of the medical receptionist job description:
  • Perform administrative and clerical duties
  • Work with physicians and dentists
  • No formal education required
  • 14% employment growth by 2022