Unit clerks serve as the center of information in a hospital unit. Ward clerks perform a variety of tasks to help keep the hospital unit running smoothly and efficiently. Unit clerks are, most often, expected to show competency in job tasks during an orientation process while they are working with an existing employee.
Unit clerks answer telephones and direct calls to appropriate parties. Unit clerks sort and handle mail, greet visitors and direct visitors to various hospital locations, such as patient rooms, according to the California Employment Development Department. Some hospitals require unit clerks to perform some nursing assistant duties and transport patients around the hospital. Scheduling patient surgeries, procedures and making follow-up appointments for patients are additional tasks for unit clerks.
Unit clerks often participate in shift change meetings, answer patient calls, coordinate staff schedules, manage patient care files, coordinate patient admissions and discharges and notify staff such as doctors, coroners or morticians when necessary, according to Health Occupations.
Unit clerks process doctor's orders by notifying staff of any immediate orders, verifying unclear orders, transcribing a doctor's orders into a computer system or Kardex, transcribing information into medical charts, submitting requisition forms for diagnostic tests, processing treatment and diet orders, flagging medication records with medication changes and ensuring that all records are signed and dated by appropriate staff, according to Health Occupations.
Compiling patient records is another major part of a unit clerk's job. Unit clerks label patient files and ensure that required documents are placed in charts during the admission's process, and they take apart files of patients when they are discharged. Making sure that daily reports and test results are included in charts is another task of the unit clerk as well as protecting the confidentiality of patient records, according to Health Occupations.
Ordering and reordering unit, clerical and nourishment supplies are tasks that unit secretaries manage, in addition to sending charge slips to central supply. Responding to emergencies is one way unit clerks ensure hospital unit safety. Monitoring the unit for cleanliness, hazardous waste and infection control as well as participating in emergency preparedness exercises are also required duties of the unit clerk. Knowing where all fire extinguishers are and reviewing safety plans are additional ways that unit clerks ensure the safety of the unit, according to the University of Connecticut Health Center.
A current cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification is required for unit clerks. Attending staff meetings and keeping up-to-date with continuing education are important for unit clerks. Another way to keep abreast of changes is to attend committee meetings and assist in new staff orientation.