The terms secretary and receptionist may seem synonymous to many people, but the fact is that the people who work in these two professions perform different tasks, and for this reason, it is important to know the difference between one and the other.

Although they may have characteristics in common, secretary and receptionist play different roles in the professional context, and this must become clear so that their skills are respected and there is no role reversal in the performance of their duties.

Secretary x Receptionist: what is the main difference?

Secretaries and receptionists share some tasks in common, but each has its role. In some small clinics, or even in offices, the secretary often ends up playing the receptionist, but we will explain below the difference between them.

The secretary works with the doctor and is usually in charge of resolving administrative issues. The receptionist, on the other hand, acts on patient care, and as the name suggests, she/he is responsible for the receptions of them, so it is with the receptionist that the patient has its first contact when she/he arrives at the clinic.

Secretary: what are the main functions?

The secretary's routine is made up of administrative tasks, so one of her functions is to manage the routine of health professionals within the clinic, taking care of the medical agenda and ensuring that there are hours available to attend all patients.

Besides taking care of the agenda, other tasks are left to the secretary, such as preparing documents and reports, issuing receipts, arranging external contacts (such as suppliers), scheduling meetings, and processes in general, among others.

Receptionist: what are the main functions?

Although most of the time the secretary is responsible for organizing the health professionals' agenda, in some cases the reception team is responsible for this task. In this context, the secretary often ends up taking care of the doctor's agenda and external commitments, while the receptionist is in charge of taking care of the patients' schedules.

It is at the reception that the patient has the first contact with the clinic, whether by phone or in person, so we usually say that the receptionist is responsible for representing the clinic in the relationship with the patient, and is considered by many to be the company's identity.

In addition to the attendance (in person, by phone, and e-mail), the receptionist is also responsible for keeping the reception organized so that she/he can receive patients. It is at the reception that correspondence is usually received, transfers of calls to other extensions, reception of suppliers, among others.

How to hire the ideal secretary or receptionist?

Here on the blog we already gave some tips on how to hire the ideal secretary, so if you are in doubt about this issue, you can check out our article and stay on top of all the details.

In this article on "how to hire the ideal secretary for your clinic", we make it clear that many of the tasks performed by a receptionist can be done by a secretary, but only when the clinic is small or when care is provided in an office.


Never overload your team members with functions that do not concern them, because, in addition to not being the correct one (legally speaking), the work may not be well performed and still generate frustration on the part of these individuals.

Another important detail is that both the receptionist and the secretary must have basic computer skills. We always indicate that work in clinics and offices is accompanied by the use of software, such as Ninsaúde Apolo, because in addition to being an intuitive and easy to use the system, it contains several functionalities that facilitate the day-to-day in the clinic.

Even without the use of software, the use of technology is present in this work environment, so it is important to be always up to date and prepared in this regard to performing your functions with excellence. Here on the blog, we have already given some basic computer tips to assist secretaries and receptionists, so if you are entering this business or know someone, be sure to check or share.

And finally, taking advantage of the fact that we mentioned the use of software, be sure to check out five advantages that Ninsaúde Apolo brings to secretaries and receptionists because with the features that the system certainly offers, these professionals' daily lives will be much more productive in the clinic.