Health Care Team (HCT)

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Other Support Staff

Other Support Staff Overview | Medical Assistant | Ward Clerk
Ward Clerk
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  Who is a Ward Clerk?

A Ward Clerk is a person who provides general administrative, clerical, and support services for a clinical unit like a medical or surgical ward, an intensive care unit, or an emergency department. Ward Clerks may also be referred to as Ward Secretaries, Floor Clerks, Unit Clerks, Unit Assistants, or Unit Secretaries.

  What does a Ward Clerk do?

A Ward Clerk’s primary responsibility is to ensure that medical records, laboratory reports, radiological images, and other related patient records are properly completed and securely stored but readily available to physicians, nurses, and other health care providers.

They have a critical role in ensuring optimal and safe patient care, and they enable medical and nursing staff to do their work efficiently and in compliance with hospital policies and procedures. Establishing a good relationship with a Ward Clerk can make the difference between a clinical rotation that runs smoothly and where opportunities for learning are maximized and one that is chaotic and frustrating. Ward Clerks have a great deal of practical knowledge about how things get done in a unit or hospital, and they are eager to share that knowledge with professional staff.

  What education, training, and experience must one have to function as a Ward Clerk?

There is no standard training for Ward Clerks, but the basic skills required include typing; computer literacy; knowledge of medical terminology; filing; customer service; and knowledge of scheduling, registration, and admission procedures. Many will have taken technical courses, but much of their training occurs on the job since procedures in each unit are often unique.

  How and by whom is a Ward Clerk supervised?

Ward Clerks are supervised by the nurse manager of the unit.

  What are the typical day-to-day activities of a Ward Clerk?

Ward Clerks perform receptionist and clerical duties in hospital nursing units. They set up records for new patients; transcribe physicians’ orders from patient records; and copy information such as temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure onto patients’ medical records. They prepare requisition forms for laboratory tests, therapy, drugs, and supplies for their unit. They record patient diagnoses on the appropriate medical forms, arrange for the transfer of patients within the unit or to other units, process patient discharge forms for the business office, and may compile the daily census of patients. Ward Clerks answer telephones and direct calls to medical staff and patients and relay messages as appropriate. They distribute mail, newspapers, and flowers to patients. They also greet visitors and direct them to patient rooms.

In some facilities, Ward Clerks may be required to provide minor medical assistance. Many Ward Clerks are now being cross-trained as nursing assistants. In these cases, the duties of these two occupations are performed by one person when the number of patients in a unit is low. The skill levels and knowledge needed for these “blended” workers are greater than those needed for traditional Ward Clerks.

  Must a Ward Clerk be licensed or certified to function in his or her role as part of the health care team?

There are no licensure or certification requirements for Ward Clerks.

  What types of patients would benefit from the care of a Ward Clerk?

Although every patient who comes through the Ward Clerk’s unit benefits from having his or her medical records properly and expeditiously managed, the real beneficiaries of a Ward Clerk’s work are the other members of the health care team.

  How and when does a Ward Clerk become involved in the care of a particular patient?

When a patient first arrives at a clinical unit, the Ward Clerk receives his or her medical records and begins the process of entering patient information into order sheets, medication records, laboratory requests, and other components necessary to ensure the safety and accuracy of the patient’s management.

Contributed by:
Gerald P. Whelan, MD, FACEP, ECFMG

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