Clerical Associate Job Description

Clerical associates are administrative professionals who work in healthcare settings, such as physician offices and units of hospitals. They support doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals by attending to clerical tasks. Dealing with patients is also typically part of a clerical associate’s job. Shifts vary according to the hours the employer is open. A standard practice, for instance, may operate on a regular business schedule. An obstetrics unit in the hospital, however, can require evening and weekend employees. Much of the work a clerical associate performs is done at a desk, though movement around the office can be necessary at times.

As baby boomers continue to age, this large group will put more demands on the healthcare system. Thus, demand for clerical associates and others classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as medical secretaries should see job prospects grow about 22 percent between 2016 and 2026.


Clerical Associate Duties and Responsibilities

Clerical associates and others who perform administrative tasks are important to the functioning of medical establishments. Their work keeps operations flowing and contributes to patient care. Doctors count on them to be accurate, thorough, and compassionate. Some of the core tasks for which clerical associates are responsible include:

Greeting Patients

Either by phone or in person, clerical associates are often the first people patients encounter at a healthcare facility. Being welcoming and knowledgeable conveys the right impression of the employer.

Recording Information

Correct data in the facility’s system ensures better service and an easier time dealing with insurance companies. Clerical associates ask patients questions to verify basics such as name, address, and phone number. They also photocopy insurance cards.

Scheduling Appointments

Clerical associates field calls from people desiring medical appointments. They also work with patients after they see a doctor to set up further visits there or at other facilities. Such work may involve securing transportation, filling out admission or referral paperwork, and contacting insurance companies to secure approval and discuss costs.

Administrative Services

Photocopying, distributing mail, putting together mailings, typing letters, sending faxes, ordering office supplies, responding to emails, managing conference rooms, boxing up outgoing packages, conveying messages to staff members, and handling payroll are some of the many office tasks clerical associates may be called upon to do.


Clerical Associate Skills

Because they deal with people on a regular basis, clerical associates should possess solid interpersonal skills. An empathetic, patient nature helps them relate to those coming in for medical services. Other qualities that hiring managers look for in candidates for clerical associate positions include:

  • Multitasking with ease since a busy facility requires attention to many matters at the same time
  • Attending to customer service through friendliness, willingness to explain things in detail to patients, and general helpfulness at providing a positive experience
  • Exhibiting a commitment to learning since the position may involve unfamiliar terminology or procedures
  • Checking work carefully because errors can cause serious problems in treatment and/or insurance coverage
  • Understanding and maintaining patient confidentiality, including laws that protect private health information


Clerical Associate Tools of the trade

Being a clerical associate involves using a variety of items. From our analysis of job postings, here are some of the most common:

  • Computers – to schedule appointments, enter data, and perform office duties
  • Charts – physical or digital records containing basic and medical information on patients as well as a list of services performed
  • Admission forms – paperwork given to patients to collect and verify information about them, such as address, phone number, and insurance provider
  • Insurance cards – documents verifying that patients are insured and providing codes, numbers, and other information regarding coverage and billing
  • Phones – to handle incoming calls, coordinate with other facilities/departments, and contact insurance companies


Clerical Associate Education and Training

Clerical associates are high school graduates. The majority of them also have post-secondary training, oftentimes in a medical-related field such as health information or medical office administration. Holding an associate’s degree or higher can increase job prospects. New hires should be prepared for on-the-job training to get them up to speed on the terms and actions specific to their individual facility or department, such as cardiac care or radiological services.


Clerical Associate Salary

The median annual salary for clerical associates, categorized by the BLS under “medical secretaries,” is $33,730. Clerical associates in the 10th percentile earn about $23,200 a year, and the highest paid make in excess of $49,700 a year. Clerical associates in Washington, Massachusetts, and Connecticut make the highest median salaries in the U.S. – $41,300, $40,900, and $40,750, respectively.


Clerical Associate Resources

As you think about whether becoming a clerical associate is right for you, these books can aid in the decision-making process:

Medical Receptionists and Secretaries Handbook – This book “encourages an understanding of the importance of administrative staff in providing high standards of patient care and promotes teamwork throughout the whole healthcare environment.”

Handbook for Hospital Secretaries and Receptionists – Learn about the various departments within a hospital and get a handle on medical terminology in this book written by a 30-year veteran in the field.


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