How to become a Medical Secretary. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Medical Secretary do?
As a medical secretary or administrator, you would provide administrative support to hospital consultants or departments, GPs, health service managers or medical researchers. You could work in various settings, including:
- general practice
- community healthcare
- private practice
- universities and research establishments
- pharmaceutical companies.
Your duties might include:
- typing patient letters and clinical reports
- acting as personal assistant to a consultant or health service manager
- updating patient records
- managing a consultant’s waiting list – making appointments and sending letters to patients
- organising a consultant’s diary
- handling enquiries from patients
- maintaining a filing system
- sending samples for medical testing
- making sure that test results are filed with the right patient notes.
In a full-time job you would typically work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. Part-time work and job sharing are often available.
You would be office-based but in some jobs you might also spend some time at a reception desk.
How much does a Medical Secretary earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Full-time salaries in the NHS are between £18,610 and £24,188 a year.
- Senior medical secretaries with specialist knowledge can earn up to £32,000.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You will need good typing and computer skills, so office experience or word processing qualifications are useful. Temporary work (‘temping’) can be a good way of getting office experience. You may find it helpful to take a general secretarial or medical secretarial course before looking for work.
Employers will expect you to have a good standard of general education, and you may have an advantage with some GCSEs (A-C) including English.
If you already work in a healthcare setting (for example, as a medical receptionist or clerical assistant), it may help your chances of promotion to medical secretary to take a relevant qualification whilst you are working. Qualifications include:
- City & Guilds/Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists (AMSPAR) Level 2 Certificate and Diploma in Medical Administration
- British Society of Medical Secretaries and Administrators (BSMSA) Certificate in Medical Secretarial Studies.
You may be able to get into office work through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Alternatively, you may be able to build useful experience through an NHS administrative and clerical work placement. Visit the NHS Professionals website to find out more.
- NHS Professionals
Training and Development
You will mainly develop your skills on the job. You can also take work-based qualifications from AMSPAR with City & Guilds or the British Society of Medical Secretaries and Administrators (BSMSA), such as:
- City & Guilds/AMSPAR Level 3 Certificate in Medical Administration
- City & Guilds/AMSPAR Level 3 Diploma for Medical Secretaries
- BSMSA Certificate in Medical Secretarial Studies.
To start the City & Guilds/AMSPAR Level 3 courses, you will need one of the following:
- employment as an administrator in a healthcare setting
- good secretarial skills and experience (from any industry)
- four GCSEs (A-C) including English, if you are a school or college leaver without health administration experience.
You do not need formal qualifications to start the BSMSA Certificate, but you must have good administrative and word processing skills.
City & Guilds/AMSPAR and BSMSA also offer separate qualifications in medical terminology, which would be useful for medical secretaries.
AMSPAR courses are available part-time at several colleges throughout the UK. You can study BSMSA courses by distance learning. See each organisation’s website for full details.
Skills and Knowledge
- excellent organisational skills
- good spoken and written communication skills
- tact and empathy
- accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to work as part of a team and also on your own initiative
- good computer and administrative skills
- respect for confidential information
- an interest in health and medical matters.
As well as GP surgeries, health centres and hospitals, you could work for medical schools, pharmaceutical companies or complementary medicine practices. You could also be employed by an agency.
Jobs may be advertised in the local press, Jobcentre Plus and the NHS Jobs website.
- NHS Jobs
With experience, you could become a GP practice manager, a personal assistant or office manager.