The health care industry was one of the few industries to experience growth during the Great Recession, expanding 3.9 percent between the start of the recession in December 2007 and the end in June 2009. Of all the broad industry groups, the health care and social assistance industry is projected to grow the fastest, at a rate of 30 percent during the 2010 to 2020 period. This is largely due to an aging population - 27 percent of Oregon residents are age 55 or older according to the 2010 Census. With the expansion of the health care industry comes growth in occupations commonly found within the industry. More than 90 percent of all medical secretaries employed in Oregon are employed within the health care industry.
In addition to growth openings, ample replacement openings are expected for medical secretaries. A replacement opening is created when someone leaves their occupation, primarily due to retirement. Medical secretaries ranks in the top 10 percent of occupations for replacement openings during the 2010 to 2020 period. Growth plus replacement openings comprise total openings. Medical secretaries rank in the top 5 percent of occupations by that measure, with 4,776 projected total openings statewide over the 10-year period.
More than one-third (36.6%) of all medical secretaries in Oregon were employed in Multnomah and Washington counties. Only one region had fewer than 100 medical secretaries in 2010 - the eastern Oregon region including Grant, Harney and Malheur counties.
|Occupational Projections for Medical Secretaries, 2010-2020|
|Region||2010 Employment||2020 Employment||Percent Change||Total Openings|
|Gilliam/Hood River/Sherman/ Wheeler/Wasco||166||211||27.1%||70|
Looking at the skills associated with various secretary occupations in the Occupational Information Center on QualityInfo.org, there is a 49 percent skill overlap between "medical secretaries" and "secretaries, except legal, medical, and executive", a 43 percent overlap with legal secretaries, and 42 percent with "executive secretaries and administrative assistants".
Table 2 shows some of the skills commonly utilized by medical secretaries that are not generally required to perform other types of secretarial work. As might be expected, the majority of these skills are specific to the medical field. Records and information within the health care industry are becoming increasingly dependent on technology, and medical secretaries are expected to utilize several computer programs and software packages to aid them in organizing, maintaining, and disseminating information within the organization and to insurance companies. Understanding and using medical terms and codes is another main difference between medical secretaries and their counterparts working in non-medical fields.
In 2012, the median wage for medical secretaries was $15.93 per hour ($33,000 annually). Median wages range from a low of $12.32 in the Baker/Union/Wallowa region to $17.63 in Multnomah/Washington. With significant experience, medical secretaries top out around $23.00 per hour in the state.
Several Oregon programs provide training and education for medical secretaries. Community colleges and private career schools offer both certificates and Associate degrees.
|Skills Unique to Medical Secretaries Compared With Other Secretaries|
|Complete patient insurance forms|
|Enter medical insurance billings|
|Follow medical office procedures|
|Interepret and apply medical billing regulations|
|Maintain and compile medical records and charts|
|Prepare billing statements|
|Process medical records|
|Use medical office management software|
|Use medical record coding systems such as icd9 or cpt codes|
|Use medical terminology|