Ward Clerk Job Description
Ward clerks work in the administrative arm of healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living centers. They have clerical and administrative responsibilities, such as checking patients in and out, filing patient paperwork, and coordinating patient assignments with nurses and doctors. Along with other members of the front office team, ward clerks play an important role in the overall efficiency of a healthcare facility. Their work environment may vary slightly depending on the type of facility or unit of the hospital they work in. Ward clerks who work at the central desk of a trauma unit have a different work experience than ward clerks who work at the front desk of the oncology unit. Given that many healthcare facilities operate around the clock, ward clerks work nights, evenings, and holidays, with shift preference usually based on seniority.
Ward clerks work under the supervision of a ward clerk manager to assist medical staff with clerical tasks as necessary. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for receptionists, which include ward clerks, is set to rise 9 percent through 2026.
Ward Clerk Duties and Responsibilities
Like other types of receptionists, ward clerks juggle several duties on a daily basis. We analyzed ward clerk job descriptions to put together the following list of ward clerk duties and responsibilities:
Process Intake and Discharge Forms
Ward clerks are the point of contact for all new patients and patients who are on their way home. They collect the necessary information from new patients and pull their medical records. They also give discharged patients all the paperwork relevant to their medical situation.
Organize, Update, and File Medical Records
Ward clerks create, organize, and update the medical records of patients.
Answer Non-medical Patient Questions
Ward clerks are the point of contact for all non-medical questions patients and their families may have. This usually involves questions related to insurance or home care plans. Ward clerks need to have a working knowledge of the specific conditions dealt with in their unit to perform this duty well.
Answer Phone Calls
Some phone calls may be family members of patients, while other calls may be from ward clerks on other units looking for patient information. Regardless, it is the responsibility of the ward clerk to answer all phone calls.
Organize Patient Assignments and Relevant Paperwork for Doctors and Nurses
Ward clerks are responsible for providing clerical support to the RN assigning patients to the medical professionals on the unit. This means maintaining a running database of all assignments, as well as intakes and discharges.
Ward Clerk Skills
Ward clerks need a working knowledge of the medical field. Since one of their responsibilities is fielding questions from patients, they have to be knowledgeable about medical billing and insurance. Ward clerks also need a working understanding of medical charts to properly organize paperwork for doctors and nurses. In addition to these traits and areas of knowledge, ward clerks benefit from having the following skills and traits:
- Thriving in a fast-paced environment and able to switch tasks seamlessly—especially important for those who work in emergency units
- Preparing bills and insurance invoices
- Answering non-medical, administrative questions
- Possessing a keen attention to detail
- Entering information into medical records of new and existing patients
- Facilitating the patient intake and discharge process
- Filing patient paperwork and medical records using both digital and physical filing systems
Ward Clerk Tools of the Trade
- Digital and physical filing systems – used to keep track of digital and physical copies of patient medical records
- Microsoft Office – used to perform various clerical and administrative tasks
Ward Clerk Education and Training
Ward clerks only need a high school diploma to find employment, but most employers prefer candidates who have a certificate of completion for a medical secretary program from a vocational school. Such programs teach skills, such as transcription, medical terminology, and basic laboratory procedures.
Ward Clerk Salary
According to Payscale, the national median hourly rate for ward clerks is $12.56 per hour. Those at the top of the scale earn an hourly rate of above $17.63, while those at the bottom of the scale earn an hourly rate below $9.08.
Ward Clerk Resources
While there are not many resources specifically for ward clerks, the following list of resources is good for people who want to explore the field of healthcare administration:
The Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists – Founded in 1964, this is the predominant professional organization for ward clerks. It has chapters all over the country that provide network opportunities, and its website also has a forum for members. The website has sections dedicated to helping members hone their skills and find employment.
American Association of Medical Assistants – This is another highly trusted organization the field of medical administration. It offers a certified medical assistant program and certification that is held in high esteem by employers. More information about the exam and coinciding preparation can be found on its website.
National Association of Professional Receptionists – While not specifically for those who work in the medical field, this organization has many ward clerks among its members.
Steps to Becoming a Medical Secretary: A Step-by-Step Guide to Working in a Hospital – This book, based on the author’s five years experience as a medical secretary, covers all the things one needs to know to work in the field. This information is highly relevant to becoming a ward clerk.
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