Health Care Support Staff: Types & Roles

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  • 0:04 It Takes a Team to…
  • 1:44 Conquer the Critical…
  • 2:56 The Support Continues
  • 3:48 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Alyssa Campbell

Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.

It takes more than a doctor and a nurse to make a hospital or any healthcare setting run without a hitch. Read on to learn about other vital healthcare service staff members and what they contribute to the team.

It Takes a Team to Provide Care

When the term ''healthcare'' is mentioned, an automatic image pops into most people's minds. This mental sketch frequently includes a nurse, a doctor, hospitals with operating rooms, and perhaps a few other supporting staff. This lesson will provide you with descriptions of who those supporting staff are, what they do, and how important they are to ensuring patients receive the best possible care.

Sometimes people are very ill or a major injury has occurred, and they choose to go to an emergency department. Take, for instance, Aunt Hilga. She arrived here from overseas only a week ago, but has been feeling heavy chest pain since her arrival. You take Aunt Hilga to the emergency department of your local hospital and walk up to the desk to check in. Here, you are greeted by a medical receptionist, who collects and confirms your identifying information and helps you complete any necessary paperwork regarding insurance. The medical receptionist communicates with the triage specialist (sometimes a nurse) who then decides how critical your case is and how quickly you should be evaluated by a physician.

While helping Aunt Hilga provide the required documents and information, the receptionist and triage staff notice that Aunt Hilga doesn't speak much English and needs to be seen quickly. They recognize from the signs that Aunt Hilga might be having a heart attack. While they are collaborating, they quickly make a decision to call a medical translator, who provides translation services and ensures that accurate information is being received and given by all parties. This unstructured and informal verbal communication between the medical receptionist and the triage specialist helps to facilitate a good outcome for Aunt Hilga.

Conquer the Critical Tasks First

Aunt Hilga is taken back into the emergency department and is seen by a nurse, who delegates to the nurse assistant using closed loop communication. This means that after the nurse lists tasks to be completed by the nursing assistant, the assistant repeats the tasks back to verify that they are indeed what is to be completed. Now the nurse assistant checks Aunt Hilga's vital signs, draws critical lab work, and connects her to a heart monitor per nursing protocol. The doctor arrives at Aunt Hilga's side and is quickly able to rule out a heart attack, due to the negative lab work and the heart monitor reading that was collected by the nurse assistant.

After a series of open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no response and are used to reveal details and feelings, it is determined that Aunt Hilga is still having chest pains. The physician orders a chest X-ray to determine if Aunt Hilga has pneumonia. A porter (a staff member who transports patients to tests and different areas of care) arrives to take Aunt Hilga to radiology for the test. Aunt Hilga is confused at first, but the medical translator is able to explain why the physician ordered the test and that the porter will safely transport her to and from the test.

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