Health Unit Coordinator Training, Degree and Course Info
Health unit coordinators, also called unit secretaries or ward clerks, perform administrative tasks in healthcare facilities, including coordinating patient activities, managing inventory, maintaining documents and prepping patient charts. They may also work directly with patients, taking vital signs. Certificate programs offer formal training in the field. Read on to learn about common courses, professional certification and the employment outlook, including salary projections.
A Health Unit Coordinator Certificate program prepares students for entry-level positions as clerical workers in medical environments such as hospitals and physicians' offices, as well as outpatient and long-term care facilities. In these short programs, students learn management and administrative procedures for healthcare facilities, as well as basic patient care techniques. The program is often split between classroom lectures and on-site clinical work. Programs commonly are offered by vocational schools and community colleges.
Basic prerequisites like a GED or high school diploma are typically the only requirements for admission. However, high school classes in biology, algebra and data processing may be helpful, and some programs may prefer individuals to have CPR certification.
The health unit coordinator certificate program typically includes 5-6 classes and may last a few weeks or one semester. Students learn to process doctors' orders, order supplies, use computer programs common in the industry and act as a liaison between patients and other medical staff. Common course topics include:
- Medical terminology
- Hospital orientation
- Health record management
- Healthcare management
- Health law and ethics
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), employment opportunities for medical secretaries, including health unit coordinators, are expected to increase by 41% from 2010-2020, significantly faster than average. The BLS also reported that medical secretaries, including health unit coordinators, earned an average annual salary of $32,670 as of May 2012.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Health unit coordinators may choose to earn voluntary certification from the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators to become a Certified Health Unit Coordinator (CHUC). Certification requires passing an examination that tests both knowledge and skills. The certification lasts for three years, and professionals must complete 36 hours of continuing education to meet recertification standards.
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