How Do I Become a Hospital Ward Clerk?
Research what it takes to become a hospital ward clerk. Learn about education, training options, necessary skills and salary information to find out if this is the right career for you.
What Is a Hospital Ward Clerk?
Hospital ward clerks are also known as medical secretaries. Hospital ward clerks work in a hospital or medical clinic. They perform administrative tasks, such as updating and storing patient files or retrieving files for medical staff. They may also answer phones, transfer calls or relay messages to staff, and schedule appointments. Other duties they may perform could include preparing invoices, drafting letters and preparing reports. Since they handle medical information it is important that hospital ward clerks maintain patient confidentiality and secure all files and information appropriately.
|Degree Required||High school diploma; postsecondary courses and ward clerk certificate programs are available|
|Training Required||On-the-job training is typical|
|Key Skills||Word-processing and transcription skills; medical terminology and hospital procedure knowledge|
|Certification||Optional certification is available|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)||16% (all medical secretaries)*|
|Median Salary (2018)||$35,760 (all medical secretaries)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Jobs Are Available for Hospital Ward Clerks?
Hospital ward clerks may have similar duties to medical secretaries and related personnel, such as health unit coordinators and patient coordinators, according to O*Net OnLine (www.onetonline.org). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that medical secretaries might also function as administrative assistants (www.bls.gov).
What Types of Skills Do I Need?
The BLS stated that to attain this job, you need a working knowledge of medical terminology and hospital procedures as well as the ability to transcribe reports and other written documents. Additional duties may require you to take client histories, bill insurance companies and maintain supplies. You need to be able to operate a computer and use word-processing software. Your job also entails scheduling appointments and maintaining patient records.
Will I Need Formal Training?
While the BLS indicated that high school equivalency is usually sufficient to become an office clerk, you may want to take some community college or vocational school courses. Even though most employers offer some type of on-the-job training, having more experience and training may improve your job candidacy and promotion opportunities. For a medical ward clerk, this training should include human health and science classes.
You may want to explore a ward clerk certificate program. These can prepare you to work in a hospital or nursing facility. Coursework covers medical terminology, appointment scheduling, clerical procedures, file maintenance, phone protocols and intercom usage. Some programs offer a combination of lectures and labs covering anatomy and physiology as well as safety procedures, law and ethics.
While obtaining national certification is not mandatory, you may increase your employment opportunities by taking the basic competency exam. According to the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC), obtaining certification is a way to demonstrate that you are serious about the field (www.nahuc.org). The examination, however, is handled by an outside test agency.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
Hospital ward clerks share some similar tasks with legal secretaries and receptionists. Legal secretaries, receptionists and hospital ward clerks may all answer phones and take messages or transfer calls. All of these professionals may also be responsible for scheduling appointments. Like hospital ward clerks, legal secretaries and receptionists may also produce reports, prepare invoices, file documents and store and retrieve files as needed. Legal secretaries and receptionists need a high school diploma or equivalent. They do not necessarily need postsecondary training, although it may be an asset to those seeking work in those fields.