Medical Secretary or Receptionist

The medical secretary or receptionist works as the frontline person at a medical facility, answering the phone when patients call, making appointments, and receiving patients when they arrive.

They may work in the waiting rooms of a general practitioner, specialist, or pathological testing laboratory, and in various departments in a hospital, such as admissions, x-rays or the emergency room. In small practices, they may also be required to assist with keeping patient accounts, and billing.

Being the first person to portray the organisational efficiency and image of the medical department for which they work, medical receptionists need to be courteous, tactful, professional and efficient.

Other duties performed by the medical secretary are:
keeping track of health records and files, manually and with the use of a computer, making arrangements for surgery, acting as a personal assistant, keeping diaries, arranging meetings and organising travel, using shorthand or an audio machine and word-processing letters, reports for patients’ records and minutes of meetings. They may possibly also be required to arrange transport for patients on occasion, and liaise with other healthcare professionals.

Personal Requirements

  • be tactful and discreet
  • have a sympathetic attitude and be helpful
  • be a good organiser
  • be reliable and accurate in your work
  • have a neat appearance and pleasant manner
  • have computer skills

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate or equivalent qualification.

What to Study

Experience and knowledge are gained through in-service training, or by taking an appropriate degree or diploma course at a university of technology.

Medical Secretary courses are also offered at the Academy of Learning and Intec.


  • rooms of doctors, dentists etc
  • one of many hospital departments such as general, psychiatry units, neurology, cardiology, paediatrics, teaching and research
  • health centres
  • physio- and other therapists’ rooms

Further Information

South African Secretaries and PA’s Association (SASPA)
60 Civin Drive
Tel: (011) 454-5505

Getting Started

  • develop your computer skills
  • visit your local hospital and observe the various activities in the emergency rooms, admissions etc.

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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