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A Day in the Life of a Nursing/Hospital Unit Clerk

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: August 11, 2020

Sunita and her friend Tyson have been through a lot of schooling together. They spent many years in the same high school and took a number of the same classes. It worked out this way because even as teenagers they both knew they wanted to pursue a career in health care. While Tyson could afford post-secondary education to earn a degree, that wasn’t what he wanted. Instead he wanted to be at the core of an active health care team and knew that taking a unit clerk course was the right option.

Spending years in school wasn’t something Sunita was interested in. She wanted to  make a difference in the health of others right away. Tyson told her about the nursing unit clerk programs available and the pair decided to continue their education together by signing up for the full-time Unit Clerk Course through Ashton College.

The unit clerk roles they chose

During the nursing unit clerk program Sunita knew she wanted to be part of a hospital team. After graduating from the unit clerk course, she took a job in the patient-facing area of oncology. She enjoyed transcribing physician’s orders, coordinating patient appointments, arranging tests and maintaining patient records. She also liked being part of the team that helped patients through their cancer journey and knew many of the patients by name.

Tyson wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do, but he’d learned a lot about the various employment opportunities through the nursing unit clerk program from Ashton. When a job posting came up for emergency call takers, he decided it might be the right fit. After all, he’d once considered being a 911 operator and the emergency call taker role is the connection to ambulatory services after someone calls 911 and needs an ambulance.

What Tyson and Sunita like about their jobs

Both Tyson and Sunita work shifts in  fast-paced environments, so getting together for lunch or coffee can be a bit challenging. They’d both been working at their new jobs for a few months when they finally managed to have some face-to-face time to chat.

“How’s it going?” Tyson asked. “Is it what you thought it would be?”

Sunita had a broad smile. “I love it,” she said. “I’ve seen a number of people go into remission and it’s a real joy to see them and their families smiling. How about you? Do you like what you’re doing?”

Tyson also smiled. “I do like it. I bet the pace I have is more urgent. You’re in an office with appointments. So it’s different that way.”

Because of the unit clerk course they had taken, each had a general understanding of what the other did, but wanted to know more.

“Tell me more about what you do,” said Sunita.

“It can be hard,” explained Tyson. “I talk to people who have called 911 and need an ambulance. The 911 operator puts them through to me. A lot of times the caller is crying. Sometimes it’s the person who is hurt. It can be a challenge to get the information we need. I have to stay calm. Always.”

“Wow, that has to be really hard,” Sunita said.

“It can be. But I am helping people when they really need someone. I definitely love my job. I never thought I’d get to say that, but I do love my job. I have to type fast, speak clearly and connect with other people on the team to get them to the caller. But what about your job? Tell me more about what you do.”

Sunita took some time to answer

“Like you, I really see how I’m helping people. But instead of being only on the phone, I’m doing it face-to-face too,” she said. “I have to juggle my time a lot because I may be answering the phone and helping patients when they arrive, but that’s the great part about it – it’s talking to them. Some people are scared and I can talk calmly to them. Sometimes I can answer their questions or if I can’t answer them, I can at least try to help them get the information they need. I update their records, help them with specialists and even help them find their way to the in-hospital pharmacy. I’m also talking with my team members a lot to ensure everyone has access to the information they need. I also manage the doctors’ orders and transcribe them. So that information we learned in the unit clerk course was really helpful in making sure I knew how to do that.”

As the conversation continued between Tyson and Sunita, they both realized that working in health care can be a strain emotionally. Not everyone gets better or comes through a situation.

“But we knew that would be the case when we chose to work in health care,” said Sunita. “I’ve always known that is part of this job. We get to help people and we do the best we can with the work of our team mates.”

“Exactly,” said Tyson. “Some days can be a little tiring. But I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”

“Do you ever wish you’d gone on to be a doctor or a nurse or something else in health care?” Sunita asked.

“No way. Being at the centre of things is perfect. I’ve made friends in my office. I talk to a lot of people every day. This is right for me.”

“Me too!” she said.

“In a few years, would you want to try something else?” Tyson asked.

“Maybe,” Sunita said. “I wouldn’t mind working in another area of the hospital in a few years. Like maybe in the maternity ward or the cardiac unit. How about you? Would you like to become a supervisor at your work?”

“Yeah, I might like that,” he answered.

Both Sunita and Tyson found their ideal jobs after taking the unit clerk course through Ashton College. Prior to taking the course, the pair knew they wanted to work in health care, were ready to invest in their education and had a focus on helping others.

Read our other blog: Best Options After Taking a Unit Clerk Course


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