Without secretarial support, many corporate firms and institutions would have a difficult time maintaining organizational structure. That’s why secretaries and administrative assistants hold posts in nearly every industry, with substantial employment growth anticipated in the medical field.

In the coming years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to see more than 189,000 secretaries land jobs at healthcare facilities nationwide by 2022. This projected spike in the hiring process marks a 36 percent increase in the number of professionals that were handling clerical duties within a medical setting in 2012. Candidates with an admirable blend of work experience and computer skills should have the best prospects.

In Los Angeles, medical secretaries earn an average annual salary that is greater than $40,000, with top office assistants pulling in yearly wages of around $51,000, according to current data. Human resources specialists say high school graduates that have learned basic office skills and rudimentary computer techniques would qualify for entry-level positions that pay more than $30,000 per annum. However, leading employers in greater L.A. prefer to hire applicants that have attended a community college or technical school. In formal training, aspiring medical secretaries learn about commonly-used concepts, practices and terminology for a particular field of specialty.

Because these support staff members have access to confidential information and are required by law to protect a patient’s privacy, having integrity and being trustworthy are two key qualities they must possess. Their interpersonal, organizational and writing skills are also tested on a daily basis.

Although most secretaries answer telephones, schedule appointments, arrange meetings, draft and edit correspondence, handle billing, perform bookkeeping tasks and maintain databases, healthcare settings require additional responsibilities. Medical secretaries are also expected to transcribe dictation and prepare reports and articles for physicians or medical scientists. In addition, their duties entail taking a patient’s medical history, arranging a patient’s hospitalization and processing insurance claims and payments.

With more than 20,000 medical secretaries actively employed, the greater L.A. region remains a hot bed for this vocation. Qualified secretaries are finding rewarding work at general and surgical hospitals, dental offices and outpatient care centers.

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

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