Pros and Cons of Becoming a Doctor's Office Receptionist
A doctor's receptionist performs administrative duties in an office, medical clinic, hospital or other medical facility. Read the pros and cons listed below to help you decide if this is the career you want.
|Pros of Becoming a Doctor's Office Receptionist|
|Faster-than-average employment growth (34.2% expected for receptionists between 2012 and 2022)*|
|Requires little education (many positions require only high school diploma)*|
|Part-time positions may be available*|
|Cons of Becoming a Doctor's Office Receptionist|
|Somewhat low salary (average hourly wage of $13.82)*|
|May be required to work unconventional hours (days, nights and weekends)*|
|Constant exposure to illnesses and stressful situations**|
|Often strict requirements about professional appearance (no tattoos, piercings)**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Monster.com
Essential Career Info
Job Description and Duties
Doctors' office receptionists perform many duties in the course of a workday, including answering the telephone, screening and forwarding calls, and greeting customers and patients. They also copy, file and document patient records; sort and distribute mail; and use office equipment such as copiers, printers, computers and fax machines. These receptionists often assist other administrative workers with their duties as time permits. In addition to keeping up the office appointment calendar, they may also monitor visitors' access for security purposes. In addition to assisting the doctor with the patient, receptionists may also schedule appointments, fill out insurance forms and do medical coding.
Job Prospects and Salary
As a doctor's office receptionist, you may find employment in hospitals, clinics, dental offices and private medical practices. However, the largest number of receptionists work in doctors' offices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical receptionists working in doctors' offices were predicted to see an employment growth of 34.2% between 2012 and 2022.
Salaries will vary depending on the type of doctor's office you work for. For instance, according to the U.S. BLS, in May 2014, the median hourly wage for receptionists at dentists' offices was $15.62, giving a yearly average salary of $32,490, while the mean hourly wage for receptionists at physicians' offices was $13.82, giving a yearly average salary of $28,750.
Education and Training Requirements
Although this may vary by employer, most doctor's office receptionists need only a high school diploma or equivalent. They must be knowledgeable of office equipment, such as telephone systems, computers and other office electronics. Some community colleges and vocational or technical schools offer training programs specifically designed for aspiring doctor's office receptionists. Typically resulting in a certificate of completion, these programs include courses in business communications, healthcare reimbursement, medical terminology, medical law and ethics, mathematical operations, medical coding, medical office procedures and computer applications. The curriculum may also include a practicum course that has students completing an internship in a medical setting to obtain real-world experience.
What Employers Are Looking for
While becoming a doctor's office receptionist often requires only the completion of a high school diploma, an applicant may receive on-the-job training. Employers want their receptionists to be friendly, helpful and possess good communication skills. Knowledge of medical office procedures, spreadsheets and word processing software is also very helpful for this position.
Job Postings from Real Employers
Although education requirements are flexible, some employers advertise for individuals who have experience and knowledge in specific areas of office management or insurance policy documents. The following are receptionist job listings from April 2012:
- A Washington medical office is seeking a doctor's office receptionist to fulfill several front desk duties, including greeting clients, scheduling appointments, verifying insurance information and filing. This full-time position requires applicant be familiar with medical records, patient billing and general office procedures.
- An experienced front office receptionist is needed to work for a Texas medical health service provider. Applicants should have high school diplomas with at least one year experience working in a medical office. Recent doctor's office experience is required.
- A Virginia dermatology practice is seeking a full-time medical receptionist. Applicants must be friendly, reliable and have basic clerical skills. Job duties include providing patients with HIPAA documents, greeting patients, collecting payments, scheduling payments and performing data entry. Candidates must have computer knowledge.
How to Get an Edge in the Field
You'll want to learn all you can about proper insurance procedures as well as how to organize and file patient charts. Keeping up with technology and medical procedures will also help you be competitive in the workforce. According to the U.S. BLS, employers prefer candidates who have a working knowledge of computer skills, including creating spreadsheets.
Continuing education and training is important because it allows you to keep up with the latest advancements in the healthcare system. With experience and training, a doctor's office receptionist may advance to a secretarial or supervisory position. Doctors' office receptionists who have work experience as well as strong computer skills may advance to a higher-paying job, such as administrative assistant. Completing postsecondary education, such as a medical administrative assistant program, can also enhance your resume and help you get an edge in the field.
Becoming a medical assistant will allow you the opportunity to perform both administrative and clinical duties. You'll schedule patient appointments, take patient vital signs, administer drug injections under the doctor's supervision and assist the doctor with routine patient care. You may receive your medical assistant job training on the job or you can complete formal training, usually one year in length. In addition to training, you can obtain certifications from several certifying agencies. The BLS reported that medical assistants earned a median hourly rate of $13.87, slightly higher than a doctor's office receptionist wage.
In addition to training, you can obtain certifications from several certifying agencies. Possible certifications may include the Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) from the American Medical Technologists, Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants, National Certified Medical Assistant (NCMA) from the National Center for Competency Testing and the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant from the National Healthcareer Association.
Medical Records and Health Information Technician
If you're interested in a job working in the medical industry with no patient contact, you may find a career as a medical records and health information technician a good fit. This position entails retrieving patient records and assigning codes into the system for payment reimbursement. While you may not have patient contact, you communicate with other healthcare professionals. The BLS reported that these workers earned a median annual wage of around $32,000.