This post provides detailed information on the health unit coordinator career, including how to become one, the various opportunities available, and the benefits of being a health unit coordinator.
How to Become a Health Unit Coordinator
Here are the steps you can take to become a health unit coordinator:
- Become Trained
A high school diploma or GED certificate is often required for entry-level health unit coordinator positions.
While some employers provide on-the-job training, according to the Mississippi Hospital Association and the Florida Area Health Education Centers Network, most employers prefer candidates with formal college education.
The National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC) provides a list of accredited diploma, certificate, and associate degree programs offered by vocational schools and community colleges.
2. Think about Certification
Certification is voluntary, but recommended. It demonstrates a specific level of competence in the skills and knowledge needed to be a healthcare unit coordinator.
NAHUC certification is granted after completing a 120-question examination offered by Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc.
NAHUC and the American Health Information Management Association are national trade groups that you can join.
3. Get Some Work Experience
You’d be able to work in a range of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, clinics, rehabilitation centers, and government agencies.
4. Become a Member of a Trade Association
You would receive access to industry information, professional networking opportunities, and continuing education programs if you joined a trade association.
5. Finish Continuing Education
Recertification requires continuing education. Staying current will also keep you updated of new technology, industry rules, legislative actions and other information that would affect your everyday activities.
Some employers provide options for qualified employees to further their education.
What Health Unit Coordinators Do
Health unit coordinator perform various duties to ensure the smooth flow of operations in a medical facility, including coordinating hospital screening and medical procedures, overseeing outpatient services, and ensuring all equipment and supplies are available, clean, and correct. See detailed health unit coordinator job description.
First Week of Work as a New Health Unit Coordinator
If you are a new health unit coordinator (HUC), you can expect your first week at work to be both exciting and overwhelming.
Here is what you will most likely experience in your first week of work as a health unit coordinator starting out newly:
As a new health unit coordinator, you will be taken around the facility and the unit you will be working by management to get familiar with it.
You will also be introduced to the facility’s policies and procedures, and the team memebers you will be working with.
You will be taken through certain training to give you important knowledge you need to be effective in your role as a health unit coordinator.
These include training on the hospital’s electronic health record (EHR) system, administrative tasks, and communication protocols, and on the particular forms and documents you will be dealing with.
You may be assigned to work under an experienced health unit coordinator in the first week of work if you are new in the career.
During this time, you will be expected to quickly learn how your role functions and get familiarized with the operations of your unit.
4. Learning the routines
The first week of work as a new HUC will afford you the opportunity to learn the daily routine and work flow of your unit.
You will learn how patients are admitted and discharged, when and how patient rounds are carried out, and the duties and responsibilities of the various health professionals in the team.
5. Clerical duties
As a new health unit coordinator, you may be assigned some clerical duties in your first week of work under the supervision of an experienced HUC to gradually get you started in your new role.
The duties you may be assigned include scheduling appointments and procedures, managing patient charts, handling paperwork, and answering phone calls.
6. Emergency procedures
One of the important things you will be introduced to in your first week of work as a new HUC is the hospital’s emergency protocol.
You will be trained on how to respond to emergency situations like code blue situations or patient incidents.
7. HIPAA and confidentiality
You will also receive training in the first week of your career as a HUC on HIPAA regulations, patient privacy, and maintaining confidentiality on sensitive patient information.
From the first week of work, a new health unit coordinator will begin to learn working with the team of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
9. Time management
In your first week, you will discover that HUCs work in a fast-paced environment and perform multiple tasks.
You will therefore learn how to prioritize your work and effectively manage your time, so you ca meet deadlines and be organized on the job.
10. Adaptation to the environment
In your first week of work as a new health unit coordinator, you will discover your unit has a peculiar working culture, which you have to adapt to.
Health Unit Coordinator Career Opportunities
Here are various career opportunities you can explore as a health unit coordinator:
- Health Unit Manager
A health unit coordinator may advance to a managerial position, overseeing the operations and staff of a health unit or department within a hospital or healthcare facility.
2. Clinical Team Leader
A clinical team leader is responsible for coordinating the care of patients within a specific unit or department, and may oversee a team of healthcare professionals, including nurses, doctors, and other support staff.
3. Nursing Supervisor
A nursing supervisor is responsible for supervising the nursing staff within a unit or department, and may be responsible for coordinating patient care, managing staff schedules, and ensuring nursing protocols are followed.
4. Patient Services Manager
A patient services manager is responsible for overseeing the patient experience within a healthcare facility, including managing patient relations, coordinating care, and ensuring that patients receive high-quality care.
5. Health Information Manager
A health information manager is responsible for managing and maintaining the electronic health records of patients within a healthcare facility, as well as ensuring that the records are accurate and up-to-date.
6. Healthcare Quality Improvement Coordinator
A quality improvement coordinator is responsible for identifying areas for improvement within a healthcare facility and implementing strategies to improve the quality of care and patient satisfaction.
7. Clinical Research Coordinator
A clinical research coordinator is responsible for coordinating clinical research studies within a healthcare facility, including managing data collection, monitoring patient progress, and ensuring that studies are carried out in an ethical and regulatory manner.
8. Medical Records Technician
A medical records technician is responsible for maintaining and organizing medical records within a healthcare facility, including electronic records and paper records.
9. Health Services Manager
A health services manager is responsible for overseeing the delivery of healthcare services within a facility or organization, including managing budgets, coordinating care, and ensuring that patients receive high-quality care.
10. Healthcare Consultant
A healthcare consultant is responsible for providing expert advice and recommendations to healthcare organizations on a variety of topics, including patient care, operations, and financial management.
Challenges faced by Health Unit Coordinators on the Job
Here are major challenges a health unit coordinator may face on their job:
- Managing a large volume of patients and coordinating their care
Health unit coordinators often work in busy healthcare settings, such as hospitals or clinics, where they are responsible for coordinating the care of a large number of patients.
This can be challenging, as they must ensure that each patient’s needs are met in a timely and efficient manner while also managing the flow of information between healthcare professionals, patients, and families.
2. Maintaining accurate patient records
Health unit coordinators are responsible for maintaining accurate and up-to-date patient records, including medical histories, treatment plans, and test results.
This can be challenging, as it requires attention to detail and the ability to accurately transcribe and record information.
Inaccurate patient records can lead to serious errors in patient care, so it is important for health unit coordinators to be diligent in their record-keeping.
3. Dealing with the emotional demands of the job
Health unit coordinators often work with patients and families who are facing serious medical issues and may be experiencing a range of emotions, including fear, anxiety, and grief.
It can be challenging for health unit coordinators to manage their own emotions and provide emotional support to patients and families while also maintaining a professional demeanor.
Major Benefits of Health Unit Coordinator Career
Health unit coordinator can enjoy the following benefits in their career:
- Personal satisfaction
Health unit coordinators often find great personal satisfaction in their work, knowing that they are helping to coordinate care for patients and contribute to their overall well-being.
2. Professional growth
A career as a health unit coordinator provides opportunities for professional growth and advancement, as coordinators can gain additional responsibilities and take on leadership roles within the healthcare organization.
3. Competitive pay
Health unit coordinators often earn competitive salaries, especially for those with advanced education and experience in the field.
Health unit coordinators may have the opportunity to work a variety of shifts, including days, evenings, and weekends, which can be appealing for those who prefer a flexible schedule.
5. Job security
The healthcare industry is growing, and there is a high demand for health unit coordinators. This can lead to job security and stability for those in this career.
6. Collaborative work environment
Health unit coordinators often work as part of a team, which can lead to a collaborative and supportive work environment.
7. The opportunity to make a difference
Health unit coordinators have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of patients and their families by coordinating care and ensuring that patients receive the best possible care.
The health unit coordinator career occupiers a crucial role in the healthcare industry, serving as the central point of communication and coordination for patients, staff, and healthcare professionals.
Health unit coordinators are responsible for managing patient records, scheduling appointments, and maintaining a smooth flow of information within the healthcare facility.