Filing (Excerpt From Steps to Becoming a Medical Secretary )

The key to a great day is to get your filing done immediately. Don’t think, “Oh, I have eight hours to go. I’ll file later.” Later might not come. The thing about hospitals is that the situation can change at any time. There could be a pile-up on the highway, a disease outbreak, or God forbid, a terrorist attack. 

        Example: At the hospital where I work, filing is not a big deal because our hospital is going paperless. So that means that the lab results and imaging results are on the computer.

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Working During a Disaster (Excerpt From Steps to Becoming a Medical Secretary)

Sometimes there will be situations when something tragic will happen, and our job is to be prepared. Whether it is a tornado that pops up in the Midwest or a train that derails in your town, you need to be ready.

 Your hospital will have a code for situations like this, and if you are there when it is called, this is the time when you jump into action. 

 After first making sure that you will not be needed somewhere else in the hospital, the next thing you need to do is make sure that the printers are filled with paper because there may be a ton of discharges for the patients who are “well enough” to go home so that the hospital can use those rooms for the injured patients. 

Next, go get empty charts that are lying around in case you need them because you never know if the “single room” will soon become a “double room” (so instead of 20 patients on your unit, you now have 40). 

Next, make sure that there are plenty of physician order sheets and progress notes for the doctors to use. They may not have time to log into the computer and may need to write the orders on a physician order sheet. 

Next, be prepared to stay longer than expected. Your shift may not end at the scheduled time. Your replacement may not be able to get there in time, or leaving may not be an option.

You will probably be required to do things outside of being a medical secretary, such as helping the discharged patients gather their belongings and wheeling them down to the main entrance. You may be required to go to another floor and help them out.

Hey, you may even be required to run down to the cafeteria. And grab some food for the nurses.

        The point is you must be ready!

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Different Patient Types (Excerpt From Steps to Becoming a Medical Secretary)


You will also experience different types of patients. You will have an elderly patient. You will have a noncompliant diabetic patient. You will have the seriously ill. You will have a patient that was in a traumatic car accident. You will have drug addicts. You will have smokers that leave the unit a thousand times a day to go outside and smoke. 

It will be hard for you to understand why some people are in the hospital when it seems like they do not want to be helped.

Some people go to the hospital because they need a place to stay. You will see a lot of homeless people that treat the hospital as a hotel. They do have a legitimate health issue, but they do not take care of themselves. Sometimes it is because they lack money or insurance.

All of this comes with the territory.

This is something that you will have to get used to. Personally, when I see patients who are frequent flyers, it upsets me, but I do understand that they do have medical issues.

New Employee Orientation (Excerpt From Steps to Becoming a Medical Secretary)

One thing that you should always do is arrive early for orientation. So, getting enough sleep the night before and eating breakfast is a must. 

Dressing professional or, at least, in your work uniform is a good first impression.

I would suggest that you bring plenty of pens and paper for taking notes.

Bring enough money for the cafeteria if you plan on eating there.

        And finally, pay attention!

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Typing Skills (Excerpt From Steps to Becoming a Medical Secretary)


When I applied for the job as a medical secretary, I had to take a typing test. Now I already knew how to type because I am a writer, but I still had to take the test. And depending on the company you are applying to, you may have to meet a 35-wpm typing requirement. 

The typing test will measure your typing speed, your proficiency, your comprehension, and your spelling. The typing test may also test your knowledge of Word and Excel.

This is necessary because you may be called upon to type up memos or flyers or to track and input information into a spreadsheet.

Also, many hospitals are going paperless, so knowing how to work a computer is a must.

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Why Is It So Hard to Get a Job as a Unit Secretary? (Video)

Getting a job as a unit secretary in a hospital is hard! Whether you have prior experience or not, it is tough getting a job. 

Some of my suggestions to work around this is to:

  • Apply to work per diem to get your foot in the door
  • Apply at another type of medical facility like a Skilled Nursing facility, Rehabilitation Facility, Nursing Home, etc.
  • Apply for another job within the hospital that will get you in. For example, I knew a guy who was a Unit Secretary at the rehab facility right next to the hospital, but he could not get a job as a unit secretary in the hospital. So, he took a job as a transporter. He had to wait for six months before he could apply for the position, but hey he was in.

I offer more suggestions in the video above.

Giving Report to the Oncoming Shift (Video)

The primary reason why you should give/receive a report to the oncoming/off going shift is to facilitate continuity of care. Nurses do it all day, every day, all over the world.

Just give a quick update, nothing major of what is going on with the unit and the patients. Give your fellow Unit Secretaries a heads up on how their day can potentially go.