If you’ve chosen a job as a unit secretary in healthcare or the medical field you could be on a winning streak.
While employment figures of most secretaries and administrative assistants are, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projected to decline by between 10% and 22% between 2019 and 2029, those in medical fields can look forward to a 10% increase of available jobs.
But in healthcare, a secretary isn’t just a secretary, so you are going to need to ensure that you have a resume that stands out because competition is likely to be tough.
Resume objective for a unit secretary
Medical secretaries, including unit secretaries, work in various industries. According to the BLS, most work in physicians’ offices and general medical and surgical hospitals. Other top employers include dentists, other health practitioners, and outpatient care centers.
When we sourced job posts for unit secretaries, we found that apart from the need for the usual clerical and reception duties undertaken by secretaries in other sectors, the vast majority required a good or at least a basic understanding of medical terminology and the abbreviations used in the industry.
We also found that a large percentage of positions called for current basic life support (BLS) or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification on all nursing clinical units.
Bearing in mind that many employers of medical secretaries and other healthcare workers use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to identify important keywords in applications, we also looked at words and expressions that were often used.
Many were related to the skills required, like critical thinking, service excellence, or good interpersonal communication skills. Others pinpointed computer skills or training, like BLS and CPR.
It’s a good idea to use these in your resume to avoid being rejected before you’ve even been realistically considered.
Unit secretary with three years of experience in a medical center. Excellent interpersonal communicator with customer service skills. Able to handle stressful situations and support the medical team. Reliable administrator with BLS certification.
Resume skills for a unit secretary
The skills required for the position of a unit secretary range from understanding medical terminology and computer and admin skills to communication and people skills.
Unit secretaries answer telephones and screen or route calls, depending on their nature. They often greet and welcome patients, their families, and visitors, and answer general questions.
Clerical work is the order of the day, and they commonly schedule patient appointments, maintain staff schedules, work with medical and laboratory reports and prepare patient charts.
Scheduling and coordinating meetings and taking minutes are other common tasks they are asked to undertake.
They may also be required to facilitate document and specimen handling, authorize the submission of insurance claims, and maintain supplies and equipment.
Many employers expect unit secretaries to recognize and report the signs and symptoms of heart attack, which is why BLS and CPR certification is often called for.
While the skills required for each job will likely be different, Indeed Recruitment states that the most common skills required are communication, customer service, data entry, event coordination, Excel and Microsoft Office Suite (MOS), organizational skills, scheduling, and time management.
Remember to identify and include keywords when you list your skills.
Good telephone manner | Basics statistics | Customer service | Computer skills including Microsoft Word & Excel | Medical insurance knowledge | Medical terminology | Interpersonal skills | Able to multitask
Unit secretary work experience
In most instances, unit secretaries provide administrative services and support to nurses and the clinical or hospital manager. They often also work with doctors and might be required to provide some level of care to patients under supervision.
In addition to regular secretarial duties, unit secretaries will normally be expected to handle admin tasks that relate to billing and insurance processing of medical claims.
Because they work in a medical environment they are commonly expected to have some knowledge of medical terminology and laboratory, clinic, and hospital procedures.
Nevertheless, even if you have secretarial or administrative assistant experience in a different sector, it could be an advantage and help you get that all-important interview for the job.
Sometimes people opt to work in a different hospital or clinic department just to get their foot in the door. Once they have on-site experience, they ask for a transfer to the position of unit secretary.
Include any work experience that is relevant to your application even if it doesn’t include medically-related tasks.
Sample Work Experience
Parkland Medical Center, NH
Unit Secretary, 2019 – 2020
Worked in an 86-bed acute care trauma facility that offered a range of services from heart and vascular care, interventional spine and pain care, robotics surgery, and behavioral health. Answered telephones.
- Scheduling of patients.
- Insurance authorizations and certifications.
- Obtained medical records and lab reports and prepared patient charts.
- Ordered and stocked supplies.
- Was named Secretary of the Month seven times.
St. John Health System, OK
Unit Secretary, 2017 – 2019
Performed administrative and clerical duties in the cardiovascular unit of the clinic. Greeted patients and visitors, answered, screened, and routed telephone calls.
- Communicated regularly with patients, their families, physicians, and other healthcare team members about patient care according to company and medical protocol.
- Scheduled appointments for patients.
- Used programs and software to assist physicians and clinicians through the order entry, transfer, and discharge processes.
- Coordinated meetings, took minutes, and sent out notices as requested.
- Maintain staff schedules and timekeeping changes in the unit’s computer system.
Encompass Health, TX
Unit Secretary (Pool), 2016 – 2017
Supported the functions of the clinic’s nursing unit by performing the required clerical duties. Served as a resource for patients and their families, physicians, staff, and visitors to the nursing unit.
- Licensed to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
- Worked seven days a week and two 48-hour stretches during Hurricane Harvey.
- Operated and maintained the office equipment.
- Completed a medical terminology course with Grade A+.
Unit secretary education
Generally, a high school or equivalent diploma is all that employers hiring unit secretaries want. Then they learn their skills during short-term on-the-job training that typically last two or three weeks.
Senior secretaries will usually do the training to ensure they have a good introductory knowledge of the specific administrative procedures followed within the unit where they will be working.
However, like all secretaries, courses in office procedures and computer software can put unit secretaries at an advantage. Short online courses are usually all they need (see Courses below).
But because unit secretaries working in medical environments are commonly expected to understand the industry-specific terminology that is used, certificate courses at community and technical colleges are a popular option.
According to the Canadian Medicine Hat College, which offers online certificate courses, good courses for unit secretaries are Hospital Unit Clerk that focuses on the hospital setting and Medical Office Assistant which is better suited for those wanting to work in a private or medical office or a clinic.
The Ultimate Medical Academy, which is based in Florida, offers an online medical administrative assistant course that results in a diploma as well as an associate degree that takes about 18 months to complete.
Medical Hat College
Hospital Unit Clerk Certificate, 2016
Forsyth Tech Community College
Medical Unit Secretary, 2016
The most common courses unit secretaries take are those that enable them to do administrative work. These include computer literacy and Microsoft Office Suite (including Word and Excel), keyboarding, and data entry.
A business admin or office management course is another possibility that will help to get better jobs with higher pay.
More specific medical courses that are offered by community colleges include medical administration, medical terminology, medical transcription, and medical-legal issues.
Other options cover patient care and interpersonal communications courses, healthcare delivery systems, an introduction to pharmacology, and anatomy and physiology courses.
- Medical Administration
- Medical Terminology
- Interpersonal Communications
Even though certification is not commonly demanded by employers looking for unit secretaries, it can help you stand out from the pile of resumes when you are looking for a job.
The National Healthcareer Association (NHA) offers several certifications including the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) and the Certified Clinical Medical Assistant (CCMA).
A CMAA is a good choice for unit secretaries who do basic admin work and answer telephone calls, greet patients, schedule appointments, prepare daily charts, and verify insurance information.
The CCMA certification is better suited for those who are acting as a medical assistant or who are unit secretaries training to become nurses.
Complete unit secretary resume sample
When we sampled job postings for this article we selected the one below to use for the tailored resume we are going to show you how to write. As you can see, it’s a real ad for a full-time unit secretary who will be working in the emergency department of a clinic in Maryland.
It is a fairly straightforward position that calls for a high school or equivalent diploma as well as basic computer and keyboard knowledge. An understanding of medical terminology is also required.
The experience the company would prefer applicants to have is specified. The more experience you have the better your chances of getting the job.
The primary duties and responsibilities of the job are clearly outlined and provide a good baseline for you to write your objective and outline the section on skills in your resume.
You don’t have to include an objective in your resume, but if you do be sure to include any keywords you notice in the advert or on the company website.
Emergency Department Unit Secretary
Certified unit secretary with hospital experience and a thorough knowledge of medical terminology. Excellent written and verbal communication and an ability to work as part of the clinical team. Thrives working in a fast-paced environment.
Responsible | Committed to top-quality patient care | Computer and keyboarding | Administration and clerical duties | Medical terminology | MOS | Good telephone manner | Interpersonal skills | Quality & safety standards
Unit Secretary, 2019 – 2020
Provided clerical, secretarial, and receptionist duties that supported the care retirement facility nursing unit. Reported directly to the unit clinical manager.
- Maintained patients’ charts and accurate records of appointments and work orders.
- Responsible for checking the medical supply closet daily and ordering supplies.
- Maintained nurses’ stations including forms and files.
- Prepared orders for six physicians regularly.
University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, MD
Unit Secretary, 2017 – 2019
Provided clerical, business, information management, and receptionist duties to the nursing units in the medical center. Compiled and reviewed patient charts for admissions, transfers, and discharges.
- Identified problems, collected data, and sought intervention by clinical nurses when necessary.
- Passed the required mathematical test on employment that showed I could work with relatively simple mathematical concepts.
- Communicated effectively both verbally and in writing.
- Commended on my ability to maintain confidentiality no matter what.
John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, MD
Nursing Unit Secretary – Labor & Delivery, 2015 – 2016
Performed clerical duties that contributed to the operation of the unit. Most work was performed in an office or clinical environment that required long periods of sitting.
- Performed work that required computer skills including Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook.
- Learned EPIC, the electronic medical record system, to be able to improve productivity and efficiency.
- Did some greeting and welcoming patients and their visitors.
- Coordinated and scheduled meetings and maintained meeting minutes.
- National Healthcareer Association CMAA
Ultimate Medical Academy
Medical Administrative Assistant, 2014
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Medical insurance processes
Unit secretaries all have very similar jobs, but often advertised positions add specifics that you don’t have on the resume you have prepared for general use.
Study the advert and check out the company website to see what comes up in its mission statement and stated values. There may be keywords here that an ATS will pick up. This in itself could help you to be noticed.
- It isn’t essential to use an objective at the top of your resume but it can help to draw attention to yourself. If you include one keep it short and focus on your skills and abilities that will enable you to meet the needs of the employer and add value to the position.
- While secretaries need specific admin and communication skills, unit secretaries need these and more, including an understanding of medical terminology.
- Even though unit secretaries usually start with little more than a high school diploma, some employers call for a CPR and/or a BLS certification. Even if they don’t specify the need for one it can be advantageou, and can help your application by adding credibility.
Tips from Experts
“You need to make your resume stand out. If you did different things in different jobs you need to include this to show you are willing to do different things rather than just answer the phone! List any software you have used. Work on your skills.“ – Jackie Marie, Unit Secretary
“As a unit secretary, you’re going to be helping doctors and nurses. Employers normally want you to have knowledge of medical terminology, but it isn’t necessary to take a medical terminology class. You’ll be good if you’ve worked in a hospital setting. But you will need a current CPR or BLS certification.“ – Claudia Mari, ER Unit Secretary
“A Unit Secretary is a non-professional employee, who, under the direction of the Registered Nurse, performs clerical duties. While performing the essential functions of this position, the Unit Secretary will understand and strive to keep the mission, vision, and values of the Fulton County Medical Center, and be committed to the improvement and best interests of the facility and the service provided by the med/surg department.” – Fulton County Medical Center
Whether this is your first, fifth, or fifteenth unit secretary job application, you need a good resume to help you stand out amongst other applicants.
There are plenty of tips and lots of information in this article to help you. Use it, but be sure to adapt it to meet your needs and fit the requirements of the company you are applying to.