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Differences Between a Medical Secretary, Typist, and Transcriptionist

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Explains the differences between three different types of medical office careers that can appear similiar. The three healthcare careers include medical secretary, typist and medical transcriptionist.

Working in the medical field places many employees in similar areas of work. As part of the medical team it is important to know and appreciate the work duties of your co-workers. The medical office is one area of work that can be confusing in the roles of medical secretary, medical typist, and medical transcriptionist. To avoid confusion here are the job duties and some of the differences these similar medical positions share.

1. A medical secretary is highly skilled in medical business office duties such as making appointments, sending letters, and other communications by phone, fax, and computers. She is fluent in accounting, completing insurance claims, billing collections, office payroll, banking, processing mail, filing forms and patient records and maintaining the office.

A medical secretary must have excellent English grammar skills and knowledge of medical terminology and must take charge of office responsibilities without supervision. This requires good judgment and initiative within her scope of authority as an office secretary. She will write letters, edit and revise office documents as needed, as well as, draft medical records and reports.

2. A medical typist sets up medical records and accounting forms in the office. She drafts office letters, writes follow up letters on insurance claims, does light transcribing of letters and chart notes, completes workers compensation and disability forms, sends data requested from life insurance companies, and orders supplies, collects money, and other general clerical duties.

The medical typist works more on the paper end of the business and works alongside the medical secretary providing the forms she needs for her office duties. In small offices the typist and secretary may be one and the same person, but in larger firms this is highly unlikely. There is a lot of paperwork in the medical field and too much for one employee alone.

3. A medical transcriptionist is not an office secretary and although a MT is a typist she is not a medical typist, her duties are much more complex in that she must transcribe doctor reports and diagnosis and have enough medical background knowledge to detect errors such as drug dosage in a report. She must have excellent English grammar skills, sentence structure, and style. She must spell, edit, and proofread accurately and have superior knowledge in word processing. A medical transcriber is necessary assistant to all physicians, surgeons, dentists, specialists, psychologists, and other medical professionals and is professional in creating medical reports, which are permanent records for medical, scientific and legal use.

A medical transcriptionist is different from a typist in that she must maintain high skills and knowledge of human anatomy, physiology, and pathophysicology. This is not required of the secretary and typist on this skill level. Knowledge of medical terminology related to the field of expertise is important and must know general medical and surgical procedures, pharmacology, drug dosage, medical instruments, and laboratory tests to obtain employment.

These are a few of the general differences between these three medical careers. Some of the medical typist duties include some of the same duties as the medical secretary, but the medical transcriptionist often requires a higher degree of education in the medical field. Due to the role of the transcriptionist the duties and performances are generally listed in the American Association of Medical Transcription (AAMT) guideline for employment. The list of duties is never complete with new procedures and constant updates in the medical field. The transcriptionist must keep herself up to date on all aspects of her job.

Many transcriptionists feel that someday they may be replaced by a machine or voice recognition program, however, that is unlikely because medicine is always changing and there is always a lot of paperwork to be completed by medical personnel.

Older professionals find this career field beneficial as it does not have an age limit, as long as the work performance is acceptable and efficient. Earning potential in this field is excellent if you have medical background experience and live in an area with a large number of medical offices or hospitals locally.



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