AMSPAR - Work in the NHS

AMSPAR stands for the Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists. It has two main roles: to support workers in these areas, and to promote qualifications. Also an awarding body recognised by the UK's Department for Education and Skills, they have a few certificates than can help you get a job in the NHS. The four certificates they can award are:

  1. The Diploma in Primary Care Management, Level 5
  2. Advanced Diploma for Medical Secretaries, Level 3
  3. Intermediate Diploma in Medical Reception, Level 2
  4. Certificate in Medical Terminology for Non-clinical Professionals, Level 3

Intermediate Diploma in Medical Reception

The first certificate worth doing if you don't already have a job in the NHS is number three on the list above - Intermediate Diploma in Medical Reception, Level 2. Gaining the qualification could get you a job as a front-line member of staff at a medical centre, for example. In this kind of job, you'll be meeting and greeting patients as they come in, arranging appointments, liaising with doctors and nurses, etc. Known as the IDMR, it is a nationally recognised qualification in the UK.

The course consists of four modules, and you need to pass each one to gain the qualification. The four modules are:

  • Module 1 - Health, Community and Social Services
  • Module 2 - Medical Office Practice and Reception Skills
  • Module 3 - Medical Aspects of Reception Work
  • Module 4 - Medical Reception Work Experience

You need to pass three written exams, as well as course assignments. Module 4, work experience, is the tricky module. But a good provider should be able to arrange this for you. (To see a list of approved course providers, visit this page on the AMSPAR site

The course lasts for about 12 months, and can be done by school leavers, as well as mature students.

Advanced Diploma for Medical Secretaries

The Advanced Diploma for Medical Secretaries can be a good next step, after you gain an IDMR. You can, however, take the Medical Secretaries Diploma without gaining the Medical Reception certificate. Don't be misled by the title, by the way: this qualification is intended for people wishing to become a Medical Secretary, rather than people who already are Medical Secretaries.

As a Medical Secretary, you have a wider range of choices when it comes to where you work: hospitals, general practice, private practice, research, the pharmaceutical industry, and a whole lot more besides. But your main duties are hard to pin down! Consultation with patients and health care workers is one way to look at the job. It will probably involved audio typing and medical word processing, though. Many people, both men and women, are taking this qualification as a way in to management posts.

There are five modules to complete for this qualification:

  • Module 1 - Administration and Legal Aspects relating to the NHS and Social Services
  • Module 2 - Business Documentation for Medical Secretarial Practice
  • Module 3 - Medical Office Practice
  • Module 4 - Medical Aspects of Secretarial Work
  • Module 5 - Work Experience

You need to pass four written exams, gain a pass for work experience, as well as passes for audio typing and medical word processing. It can take up to two years before you gain the qualification, so there's a lot of work involved.

But if you want a start in the NHS, and don't fancy a nursing job, then gaining either of these two qualifications can be a good move.

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