Medical Receptionist Career Overview

How to Become a Medical Receptionist

Receptionist working in doctor's office
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Medical receptionists are very important to a medical office or hospital. The medical receptionist is often the first person a patient may interact with over the phone or upon arriving at a medical office. Therefore, the medical receptionist is integral to shaping the patients' first impression of the medical practice, which could shape the patient-provider relationship for the long-term.

Job Responsibilities

Depending on the size of the practice and staff, the medical receptionist's duties could vary slightly. Answering the phones is always the primary function. This includes fielding calls and transferring them to the appropriate person, or taking a message from the caller.

Many medical receptionists also are responsible for scheduling patients' appointments, which is very important to the success of the practice. Medical receptionists are often busy setting, changing, or canceling appointments in addition to answering the phones.

Other tasks include light office work such as filing, copying or scanning documents.

Skills and Qualifications

  • Pleasant, professional, and articulate phone voice
  • Ability to multi-task and handle many incoming calls or patients at once
  • Efficient and accurate data-entry skills
  • Computer literacy and multi-line phone or switchboard experience. If no experience, the prospective receptionist must be able to learn it quickly.
  • Clean background - candidate should have positive professional references and be able to pass a criminal background check
  • Basic knowledge such as basic math, alphabetical or numerical filing may also be required.
  • Punctual and reliable.


Medical reception is a great way to break into the medical field. It's an excellent entry level job that could allow you to work your way up into other roles if you're interested in doing so. Careers in medical reception offer set hours, typically with little overtime required, depending on the hours of the office. It's a relatively low stress job, if you're in a positive work environment with clear-cut responsibilities.


Medical offices and hospitals are very busy, and often hectic environments. Sometimes the receptionist gets a lot of tasks dumped on him or her, or the job responsibilities are not clearly laid out. If you're able to prioritize, and vocalize to your supervisor when you're overloaded or unsure of what your duties are, you should be fine. Just be aware that medical reception can be a "catch-all" role, with many different people tossing tasks your way, not realizing what you have on your plate. Be prepared to address it if needed.

Also, there is not much long-term earning potential, which can be a deterrent to some.

Average Salary

According to Payscale salary surveys, the average medical receptionist earns about $11.33 per hour, which equates to about $22,000 in annual compensation, assuming a full-time (40-hour per week) work schedule.

If you are brand new with no experience, expect to learn less than that. Many offices start people out at $9.00-10.00 per hour.

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