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What does a medical receptionist do?

Healthcare is one of the biggest industries in New Zealand, meaning there is a constant demand for healthcare workers. So if you’re interested in building a career in medical administration, working as a medical receptionist is a great place to start. But what exactly does a medical receptionist do? And how easy is it to become one? 

Read on to find out!

What is a medical receptionist?

Medical receptionists work at the front desk of healthcare facilities such as health centres, clinics and hospitals. 

They are the first point of contact for patients coming into the building, and they are largely responsible for helping managers and healthcare providers (like doctors and nurses) provide an efficient service for patients. 

What day to day tasks does a medical receptionist carry out?

A medical receptionist is likely to perform the following tasks on a typical day: 

Greeting patients

Welcome patients to the healthcare setting and direct them where they need to go. 

Answering phones

Answer phones, take messages and transfer calls to the right person. 

Responding to enquiries

Respond to phone and email enquiries, assist patients with filling in forms. 

Booking appointments

Use computer systems to book patient appointments, using knowledge of the type of appointment, and the appropriate time and healthcare professional required.

Updating patient details

Maintain records of patient details as needed.

Dealing with incoming and outgoing deliveries

Dispense incoming post, and organise the labelling and collection of outgoing deliveries. 

Maintaining and tidying the reception area

Throughout the day, there are lots of comings and goings in the reception area of a healthcare setting, which needs to be kept tidy and organised.  

Additionally, these duties can also be combined with healthcare administration tasks. Some of these tasks include filing, scanning, photocopying, chasing up reports, inputting data and ordering stationery.

How do you become a medical receptionist?

Keen to learn about the skills and qualifications you need to become a medical receptionist? Here’s what you need to know. 

What skills do you need? 

Excellent literacy and numeracy skills are required for these roles. They also need to be responsible, confident and able to communicate well. 

They should also be able to demonstrate several skills that are central to the role: 

Customer service skills

Medical receptionists need to provide excellent customer service to patients attending the healthcare setting. 

This can be challenging, sometimes patients and their relatives are emotional. A good medical receptionist will be friendly, patient and understanding. You’ll need to be reassuring and be able to help calm visitors. 

A receptionist also needs to remember that some individuals visiting the healthcare setting will have special requirements. Elderly patients may need a little extra help moving around a clinic, for instance. Being aware and attentive to the needs of patients is a big part of the job. 

Organisation and attention to detail

When it comes to appointment times and patient notes, it’s vital that all information is 100% accurate. You need to be able to work methodically and follow procedures carefully. Good organisation and attention to detail is also required when filing patient details. 

IT skills

As a medical receptionist, you’ll be expected to master computer software you probably won’t have come across before. You’ll use this software to make appointments and update databases. Being confident using computers and other office tech will stand you in good stead. 

Knowledge of medical terminology

Understanding and being about to use medical terminology is integral to applying for medical receptionist roles. This knowledge allows you to do some healthcare administration alongside your reception duties and will help you to provide the best possible support to patients and colleagues. 

Should you take a medical receptionist course? 

Some skills can definitely be learnt on the job through shadowing more experienced staff. 

But getting that all-important foot in the door can be difficult without relevant experience or qualifications. This is where a medical receptionist course can prove invaluable. 

A medical receptionist course will allow you to be tutored in the essential skills that will support you to find work in a healthcare setting. 

For instance, you’ll learn the key medical terminology essential to making appointments and answering patient queries. This will include anatomy, medical equipment and terms associated with medications. 

You’ll also develop your office skills, discovering the foundations of standard office procedures and health and safety, in addition to medical ethics and your responsibilities in the healthcare setting. You’ll likewise learn about confidentiality and the importance of treating all patients equally.  

Where can a medical receptionist role lead?

If you start out as a medical receptionist, you’ll learn a lot about medical administration. As you gain experience, you can move into roles with more responsibility and better pay.

A team leader is responsible for coordinating a team of medical receptionists. A manager is responsible for the administration of a whole department.

Some receptionists move into specialist roles like medical secretary or PA for a medical practitioner. They may also choose roles that focus on one particular area of administration, like finance or HR.

One thing’s for sure. If you’re interested in healthcare and providing a good service for patients, a career in healthcare administration offers lots of opportunity.

Interested in a career as a medical receptionist? Then take a look at our Medical Receptionist Certificate. All of our online short courses are designed by experienced industry experts and provide the certification you need to step forward with success into your new career.


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