– 9. MEDICAL SECRETARIES

PROJECTED GROWTH (2010-2020): 856 jobs, up 24 percent

AVERAGE WAGE: $14.99 per hour

MINIMUM EDUCATION: High school diplomaWhat started as a temp job turned into a career in health care for Lisa Mavilia.

Mavilia, 25, got a job through a temp agency in the cardiology department of a Massachusetts hospital in 2009. When she later moved to Maine, she went through another temp agency to land a job at Maine Medical Partners — MaineHealth Cardiology in South Portland, about 2.5 years ago.

Within 18 months, she worked her way up to lead medical secretary, overseeing 14 other medical secretaries and two phone operators in two locations. Together, the secretaries serve 26 cardiologists and five advanced practice providers.

The medical secretaries handle all the patient calls and work as the liaison between the patients and the doctors. Secretaries handle everything from refilling routine prescriptions to providing insurance pre-certification to juggling the doctors’ schedules and meetings, Mavilia said.

“We do need to know a lot of medical terminology. We need very good customer service skills,” Mavilia said. “Our communication skills need to be exceptional.”

Mavilia had always planned on being a teacher, but after working as a medical secretary, she’s changed her major in school to health care management. Mavilia has finished three years of college and taken some management courses.

The best part of her job is developing relationships with patients.

“Even though it’s mostly over the phone, you get to know them and develop a real rapport with them,” Mavilia said.

Of course, when some patients call the office, they can be agitated because they aren’t feeling well, they are worried about their health or they need help.

For someone considering a career as a medical secretary, the candidate needs to have strong skills at time management, organization, problem-solving, adapting to change, she said.

“You have to be very flexible and adapting to change all the time,” Mavilia said.

– Jessica Hall