Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a Medical Secretary? Kay Lorcet, who lives and works in London, gives us an insight into this diverse profession.
Why did you become a Medical Secretary?
I sort of fell into the job of medical secretary. I’d finished secondary school and was due to start a secretarial course at my local college in New Zealand when a job as secretary/receptionist/practice manager working for a Consultant Psychiatrist became available. I absolutely loved it and stayed there from the age of 17 until 22. I then decided to do some travelling and found myself at the Castel Hospital in Guernsey, doing secretarial/administration work for a few months before returning to New Zealand. I’ve been in this field of expertise for some time now and can honestly say no two jobs are ever the same. I’ve worked for both the NHS and in the private sector in a hospital setting, for a variety of specialties, as well as in GP practices.
How did you hear about HCL Admin & Clerical?
In my previous position as Practice Manager at a private GP surgery, I often had contact with various agencies for when my staff were off sick or on holiday and that’s how I came to know about HCL Admin & Clerical. At the time of my inquiring to join HCL as an employee, I’d employed a very efficient secretary when my HCL consultant asked if I knew anyone who wanted to temp. I said as I’d just handed in my notice, that I was very interested in joining the agency and, after taking a much needed extended break, I began working for HCL.
Can you tell us what your typical day is?
As any medical secretary will say, there is no such thing as a ’typical’ day. I think that’s what I love most about the job as there is never a dull moment and each role is varied. Yes, there can be ‘slow’ days but it’s not often the case and I’ve learnt never to plan my day in advance as it never pans out. I know what tasks I have to have accomplished each day and I methodically work my way through until completed, which occasionally means staying back or getting in early to enable peace and quiet to concentrate on the task to hand.
Some of the more challenging tasks involved in a typical day are successfully scheduling urgent MRI/CT scan appointments during a late clinic at the end of the day, which is difficult as generally the clinical staff like to get out on time. I’ve learnt very quickly how to book theatre slots, what that involves and who to contact regarding this, pre-operation assessments and bone marrow biopsies.
It always gives me an immense feeling of satisfaction once I’ve completed the tasks successfully. Answering the telephone is a huge part of what I do, as well as responding to emails, often from the consultants, patients and family members. Answering queries from distressed patients or family members can also be challenging but, if unsure, I take the contact details, speak to my colleagues and then call them back.
As I’ve temped at several different placements, the first thing I do in a new post is ask how the phone is answered, writing it down along with the phone and fax numbers and then sticking that to the phone or computer for the duration of my placement. It saves a lot of confusion and embarrassment.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if uncertain of anything. It’s better to ask for help and get it right, even if it entails spending more time than you think it should to perform the task or you think you’ll look daft. The ability to multi-task is essential. I have a notebook I take to each job where I take down notes on how to do the job, the essential tasks and any tricks the secretary I’m covering uses to help make things run more smoothly as that’s what I’m there for.
I always leave a handover for the secretary I’m covering for to keep them up to date on what I’ve done and any queries there have been during the course of cover. This makes it easier for their return and I’ve found it is appreciated.
What’s the best part of your job?
Helping patients and helping the secretary enjoy their holiday by ensuring that when they return from holiday there isn’t a mess and a whole pile of work for them to return to, causing a lot of unnecessary stress and them wishing they’d never been away (I know this from personal experience), and lastly feeling like I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.
What do you like to do after work?
I relax by reading, baking, spending time with friends or my gorgeous twin Godsons. It’s amazing how just a smile from them, losing myself in a good book or catching up with friends over dinner can make all the difference to a busy, stressful day.
Are you looking for a new job?
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