Health Unit Coordinator Certification, Exam and Licensing Information
Health unit coordinators oversee the day-to-day operations and organization of healthcare facilities. Before individuals sit for a certification exam given by the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators, they might consider enrolling in a health unit coordinator certificate program. Read on to learn about courses in a certificate program as well as options for certification and employment opportunities, including salary information.
Health unit coordinator certificate programs are offered through community colleges and the extension or continuing education divisions of some universities. This entry-level program provides students with an overall introduction to the healthcare industry and the specifics of the health unit coordinator position. A high school diploma or GED is all that is needed to be enrolled. Graduates can apply for national certification in the field, which requires passing a competency exam. Certification is optional, but can improve opportunities for career advancement.
Students in a health unit coordinator certificate program are trained in performing non-clinical tasks essential to the daily operation of a hospital or medical facility. They learn to communicate with nurses and doctors, schedule staff, manage patient intake, prepare patient charts, transcribe physician orders and maintain patient records. Didactic courses cover healthcare procedures, policies and management skills. Students are often required to complete a clinical externship where they gain first-hand training in a medical setting. Most programs can be completed in two semesters.
While health unit coordinators perform mostly administrative work, they are required to have a solid understanding of the healthcare industry. Courses cover basic medical terminology and patient care skills in addition to specific organizational tasks in the profession. Course examples include:
- Medical terminology
- Legal and ethical issues in healthcare
- Medical transcription
- Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures
- Patient care skills
- Processing physicians' orders
- Health unit coordinator procedures
- Health unit coordinator practicum
- Clinical externship
Employment Options and Salary Info
Health unit coordinators, which are also known as medical secretaries, can specialize in several different areas of the healthcare field, including reception, scheduling, safety protocols or patient interaction. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reported that medical secretaries, including health unit coordinators, made an average annual salary of $32,670 as of May 2012.
Certification is available from the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC) and is voluntary. Individuals must pass an exam administered by a local testing agency. Health unit coordinators must retake the exam every three years in order to maintain certification.
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