Care Coordinator Education and Training Program Options

A health care coordinator is often a nurse or other medical personnel who has the responsibility of managing and coordinating staff schedules, patient treatments and the day-to-day operations of hospitals. Most care coordinators transition to the position through on-the-job training. However, some might benefit from enrolling in a Health Unit Coordinator Certificate program and earning certification in the field.

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Health Unit Coordinator Certificate

Health Unit Coordinator Certificate programs can be offered through 2-year community colleges or vocational schools and are designed for individuals who already have an education in health sciences as well as professional experience in a clinical setting. The programs typically consist of 15-33 credits and prepare students to sit for the certification examination given by the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators.

Students participating in a health unit coordinator certificate program learn how to communicate physicians' orders to nursing staff, medical staff and patients. They also learn the procedures of scheduling patient treatments, analyzing charts, entering and retrieving medical data into electronic systems, following hospital protocol and communicating with a diverse number of patients.

Education Prerequisites

Professional clinical experience is the most common prerequisite for gaining admission into a health unit coordinator certificate program. Students can come from any medical background, although many programs are specifically tailored to nurses. Students can also come from several varying medical degree programs, although they should have taken prerequisite courses in medical terminology, allied health care systems, human anatomy and physiology, and CPR.

Program Coursework

Most certificate programs for aspiring health unit coordinators contain no more than five courses that focus primarily on practical training for the field. Some topics covered in those courses include:

  • Transcribing orders
  • Requisitions and forms
  • Patient admission and discharge
  • Laboratory procedures
  • File management
  • Reporting incidents
  • Professional communication
  • Hospital protocol

Popular Career Options

Health unit coordinators can go by several professional titles, including nursing coordinator and patient care coordinator. Such individuals can also work in a variety of clinical settings, including:

  • General and surgical hospitals
  • Private and public clinics
  • Physicians' offices
  • Long-term nursing care facilities

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health information technician jobs (which included medical records coordinators) were expected to experience a 21% growth from 2010-2020, which was faster than average. Candidates with health information certification could expect better job opportunities. Health information and medical records technicians made a mean yearly salary of $36,770 in May 2012.

Certification Options

The National Association of Health Unit Coordinators offers certification for individuals who receive advanced education or training in hospital and patient care coordination. Professionals must take an examination to gain certification, and must recertify every three years to keep their credentials valid.

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