A health care coordinator can work in a medical support role or in a patient care and advocacy role. Both types of positions require a bachelor's degree and are expected to experience higher than average job growth through 2024.
Health care coordinator is a job title that can apply to two primary job fields. One of these is a medical support role filled by professionals called health unit coordinators. The other is a patient care and advocate role that is commonly referred to as health care coordination. There are these two roles are different in many ways. Their unifying factor is their affiliation with the healthcare field.
Health unit coordinators are responsible for administrative aspects of patient care. They typically work in hospitals and nursing care facilities, and provide non-medical support to nurses and patients alike. Health care coordinators work with patients to determine what the patient's specific medical needs are. These professionals do not provide care themselves, but they do help evaluate patients. The ultimate goal of a health care coordinator is to ensure that patients are getting the type and quality of care they need. Educational and training requirements vary by health care facility.
|Career||Health Unit Coordinator||Health Care Coordinator|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree or certificate program preferred||Bachelor's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||14% or more for medical secretaries*||12% for counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists***|
|Median Salary||$14 hourly for health unit coordinator (2016)**||$25.18 hourly for healthcare social workers (2015)***|
Source: *ONetOnline; **Payscale.com; ***U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Health Care Coordinator Duties
The most common job duties for a health unit coordinator are clerical tasks like answering phones and processing paperwork, including discharge, transfer, and admittance forms. Health unit coordinators also often act as a liaison between patients, nurses, doctors, and different departments within the hospital or care facility. Other tasks can include scheduling procedures like tests and x-rays, transcribing doctors' orders, and ordering medical and office supplies. Health unit coordinators are a part of a broader medical team, and are expected to keep pace with the potentially hurried and stressful environments in which they work.
Heath care coordinators work closely with patients on a one-on-one basis. They provide guidance, support, and advice to patients dealing with complex medical issues. These professionals can help their clients navigate through a medical care scenario that may involve a variety of different doctors and treatment methods. Duties can include scheduling appointments, assisting with major decisions, helping patients understand complex medical information, evaluating care quality, and working with other health care professionals to ensure that the correct path is being taken.
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Health Care Coordinator Requirements
Health unit coordinators get training on-the-job, but according to the State of Illinois, a formal education is preferred in this field (www.illinois.gov). There are dedicated certificate programs for training health unit coordinators. They typically take less than a year, and in some cases are as short as eight weeks long. These programs help students learn necessary skills for health unit coordination, including keyboarding, processing doctor's orders, medical terminology and basic diagnostic procedures. Many of these programs prepare students to earn certification from the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators.
Health care coordinator education is less straightforward, since degree or certificate programs specifically dedicated to training health care coordinators are extremely rare. Aspiring health care coordinators can gain necessary skills by earning a degree in a health care field that will introduce them to the skills and concepts used in arranging patient care. One such degree is a Bachelor of Science in Public Health with a focus on aging and health. Programs like this cover topics like ethical decision making, prevention of substance abuse, public health informatics, and health planning basics.
Salary Info and Job Outlook
While O*Net Online does not have specific data for health unit coordinators, employment of medical secretaries is expected to grow by more than 14% between 2014 and 2024, a rate much faster than the national average. PayScale.com indicated in January 2016 that the majority of health unit coordinators earn a median wage of $14 per hour, or between $22,917 and $41,797 a year.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published median hourly wages earned by healthcare social workers as $25.18, or $52,380 a year, in May 2015, and estimated a 12% increase in job growth between 2014 and 2024 for counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialists.
Depending upon the position, health unit coordinators and health care coordinators may perform administrative tasks, serve as a liaison between medical staff, and work closely with patients. A bachelor's degree is required for both positions. A 12% to 14% job growth rate is expected for these types of positions through 2024.