This week we’re giving readers an insight into our other non-writing career, and so as I’ve recently gone back to work part-time to cover holidays and sickness,  I’d like to give you a day in the life of a medical secretary. 

The job has changed dramatically from when I first started 13 years ago.  Now the system is totally electronic and we don’t have to deal with trollies full of patients’ notes, so here’s what I would have to do in a day:

  1. Check answerphone messages from the previous day and deal with those.
  2. Collect and open the day’s post and deal with each piece of correspondence.
  3. Collect patients’ folders from Medical Records who are attending your consultant’s clinic on that day.  The folders just contain address labels in case the patient has a further appointment or procedure, and blank clinic headed notepaper for scanning after the consultant has written on it.  In the past it would have been thick wedges of notes, but now these have all been scanned onto the hospital system.
  4. Take the trolley of patients’ folders to the clinic consultation room ready for the doctor.
  5. Finish audio typing the previous day’s clinic letters if these have not been done.  In the past secretaries would have been using dictation machine tapes to type from, but now the doctors dictate straight onto the computer.
  6. Try and audio type fast enough in order to keep up with your consultant as they dictate the current day’s pile of letters!  Sometimes during the day the doctor will stand over you and watch you type an urgent letter as they talk.  Fun, fun, fun.
  7. According to the letters and any accompanying forms in the patient’s folder, make a further appointment for the patient or take a completed form to the Waiting List Office if the patient needs a procedure.
  8. Prepare to be interrupted several times in any half hour period while you’re typing away by the phone ringing.  Deal with patient enquiries, which are usually about how much longer they have to wait for a procedure.
  9. Take the patients’ folders to the scanning room when you have finished typing the clinic letters and booking further appointments.
  10. Filing letters from the day’s post when the doctors have finished with them, or taking them to the scanning room if they should be filed in the patient’s notes.
  11. Photocopying.

Thankfully though, as I have a bank contract, I can work as and when I want to!

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