Ask A Professional: What Does a Career as a Unit Clerk Look Like?

Imagine an inpatient nursing unit station, buzzing with health care professionals. They are sitting at the desk, standing at the counter, and walking around. The environment is busy, chaotic, and noisy and the Unit Clerk is in the middle of all of this. The Unit Clerk is a calm, professional, educated, and resourceful part of the health care team on the unit. The ability to know what to do and when to do it is a challenge. Visitors and family members are coming to the desk to ask questions about their loved ones.

The Unit Clerk tries to help in any way they can within their scope as a Unit Clerk. The nurses and physicians are busy writing orders in the patient’s charts, doing their progress notes, and talking to the patient and family members about their prognosis or diagnosis, or treatment plan. The Unit Clerk has their phone ringing, someone at the desk asking a question, and the doctor giving a stat order — all at once! The prioritizing and organizational skills will be used during these stressful times. But the Unit Clerk is capable and confident, as they learned these skills in their program.

Life of the Unit Clerk is a very rewarding career. Having a desire to help people in a caring, empathetic, and compassionate manner. My career as a Unit Clerk started 25 years ago. I didn’t even know what a Unit Clerk was, a family member who was a nurse told me all about it. I then searched and discovered that the Unit Clerk is the hub of the unit. They are the go-to for all, they are the helpers and greeters. Multitaskers, communicators, and listeners, without the Unit Clerk the healthcare team would struggle. I completed my course and applied to all the hospitals.

I was lucky enough to get a job at BC Cancer. This was secure for me being a single parent. For the first 10 years of my career, I worked very hard as I thoroughly enjoyed helping patients and helping my team members. This career is very exciting and forever learning. I then became a supervisor and was supported by my health authority by taking leadership courses. My career blossomed and I was in the supervisor position for the latter part of my career. The supervisor role was great, as I was then able to teach and mentor the Unit Clerks. This is when I knew teaching was my purpose.

A career as a Unit Clerk was the best decision that I made 25 years ago. To be a Unit Clerk there are lots of characteristics that are required to be successful. Being a good communicator, able to multitask and prioritize their work. The compassion to help patients and their families are a huge part of this profession. The connection and knowing that I was able to put a smile on the patient’s face was the reason for all of it. Being very empathetic is key!

When I look at hiring a Unit Clerk, I am looking for certain key characteristics. Someone quick, articulate, organized, kind, hard-working, loyal, and eager to learn. If you possess any of these qualities, then you may want to think of choosing this profession. I have had a lot of students that also want to see what’s it like to be in the health care industry, so they use the Unit Clerk course as a stepping stone to a nursing career. This is a great way to see without committing to a longer program. The Unit Clerk course is an investment for yourself! After 25 years in the industry, I am still a part of it! Teaching the future Unit Clerks is very rewarding.

If you’re feeling inspired to learn more about what a career as a Unit Clerk would look like, please see our course information page.

Written by Tina Curren Toal

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