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A New Career in Medical Reception

11 Jul 2007

When Mill Park resident, Bianca De Bonitatibus completed Year 12, she was tired of the study routine and wanted a job to earn some money.

Update: Please refer to our Certificate III in Business Administration (Medical) for updated information on training to become a medical receptionist. (June 2017)

After undertaking Certificate II in Business Administration as a school student as part of a Vocational Education and Training (VET) program at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), Bianca, 21, settled on an office administration job but found there was no career path ahead of her.

Seeking more employment opportunities after a couple of years in the workforce, Bianca realised she would have to return to study to enhance her career prospects.

She enrolled in an eight-week short course in the Certificate in Medical Reception at NMIT this year and has now secured a position as a receptionist in a physiotherapy clinic in Camberwell.

'Going back to study this course was the best thing I've ever done,' Bianca said. 'I still wanted an office job but in my previous employment, I just wasn't getting anywhere and medical reception opens up all sorts of future career moves including practice manager and working for specialists.

'The course was a mix of theory and practice and everything we learned in the theory was directly related to the job. Everything made sense and I could see the relevance of what I was learning.'

The medical reception course at NMIT is offered one day a week for six hours a day over eight weeks or two nights a week for three-hours a session over eight weeks at NMIT's Preston and Epping campuses.

It was introduced at NMIT by Personal Services Short Course Program Coordinator Andrea Purcell after more than 30 years of work experience in the field.

The course provides entry level training in medical administration for work in a range of areas such as a GP clinic, specialists, paramedical including physiotherapists, chiropractors and podiatrists as well as in public and private hospitals.

The course includes an introduction to pathology and radiology terminology, correct procedures in appointment making, Medicare needs (both manual and computerised), learning medical file management, confidentiality issues, dealing with difficult patients and how to produce medical documents using Word and/or a dictaphone.

There is also three hours within the training for Prac Soft and Medical Director which are medical computer programs used in general practice.

Job search skills, resume preparation and interview techniques are also included.

Students in the course are also registered with a medical employment agency register operated by NMIT to assist students into employment after completing their course.

More than 600 students have completed the short course since its introduction a decade ago with an 80-90 per cent success rate in employment outcomes. Most of the students are female, but are of varying ages and backgrounds.

As a medical receptionist, Andrea Purcell said a person needed good communication skills with a wide variety of people and time management skills.

'The receptionist is the window for the clinic whether it's on the phone or face to face and you don't get a second chance with a first impression,' Andrea said.

'Students need to have a genuine interest in the medical field and should have an empathic and sensitive personality.'

Andrea added having the right personality was critical with a good balance of skills and attitude.

'You need a calm temperament as in a medical setting, things can go smoothly all day and then suddenly, an emergency happens and you have to be able to think on your feet and make decisions quickly without panic.'

The course involves hands-on practical activities where students engage in direct experience with role-plays and worksheets.

Bianca said while she was initially overwhelmed by the medical terminology she would have to learn, the tuition at NMIT made it all easy for her.

'The words all looked long and complicated and I honestly didn't think I would learn them, but the teacher was fantastic and the words all made a lot of sense where I could understand their meaning.

The course was really informative and everything we learned in theory was related to real world experience. I learned first-hand from a teacher who had worked in the field and could tell of her own personal experience.'

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NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.