To train for a position as a hospital unit clerk, a candidate must complete a health unit coordinator program through a community college, university continuing education program or another recognized training provider. Health unit coordinator training includes courses specific to the provision of administrative support as well as health care-related coursework, such as ethics, medical terminology, health information management and patient care skills. Practical experience in a medical setting is also typically included in the training program.
This hands-on portion of the training is important because, in addition to medical knowledge, administrative and computer skills, the hospital unit coordinator must have strong verbal and written communication skills. The ability to appropriately communicate with doctors and nurses as well as patients and their families, often in stressful situations, is essential. Unit coordinators also handle the majority of a patient's paperwork, requiring a thorough understanding of and strict compliance with patient confidentiality regulations.
Certificate or diploma programs usually require 15 credit-hours of study, while associate's degree programs are typically a year long and include general education courses as well as more medical-related courses, such as anatomy, physiology and pharmacology.
Voluntary certification as a health unit coordinator through the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators can increase employment opportunities as it provides evidence that the certified clerk has the knowledge and skills required for the job. The association requires, in addition to successful completion of a written examination, that applicants for certification have related training or on-the-job experience and a high school diploma or its equivalent.