A patient coordinator, or care coordinator, works with physicians, nurses and other members of the healthcare profession to plan, monitor and evaluate interdisciplinary care.
The patient coordinator serves as a liaison between patients, their families and healthcare professionals. Coordinators provide educational information to patients regarding treatments, procedures, medications and follow up care. They attend meetings with providers and arrange scheduling for tests and consults. They ensure compliance with hospital and legal requirements. Coordinators advocate for their patients while respecting patient rights and maintaining confidentiality.
Education requirements vary among employers, but a bachelor's degree is typically at minimum. Depending on the specific job, an employer may want to hire a nurse, a nurse practitioner, physician's assistant or social worker. Licensing by the state is required for practice in each of these fields. Individuals with bachelor's or master's degrees in healthcare administration also find work as patient coordinators.
Patient coordinators must be highly organized, with exceptional communications skills. Coursework or experience in psychology, counseling and education are required by most employers. Since technology plays such an important role in maintaining patient records and communications among members of a healthcare team, the coordinator needs to be proficient with communications and healthcare management technologies. Depending on the populations being served, it may be an asset to be bilingual and speak a language other than English that is predominant in the community.
Patient care coordinators normally work regular business hours, Monday through Friday, in hospitals, medical centers and community health clinics. In some jobs, early morning hours are required for meeting with physicians and other providers.On a typical day, most patient coordinators divide their time between one-on-one meetings with patients and communications with providers, family members and community resources.
Salary and Job Outlook
Salaries vary widely for patient care coordinators, depending on job description and level of education, geographic location and the skill set a candidate can bring to the position. According to the job website PayScale, employers are usually willing to pay more to individuals with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) certification or experience in patient education, case management or counseling. The average annual salary for a patient care coordinator is $39,000.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks data and makes projections for all civilian occupations. In some cases, the Bureau does not provide information that corresponds to a specific job title but instead to a broader descriptor. Employment in health care occupations in general is expected to grow 18 percent through 2024, a much faster growth rate than average compared with all other industries. The aging of the population, and the resultant increased demand for health care services, is behind the trend.