What's the Health Unit Coordinator Exam?

If you hold a high school diploma or GED and have either worked in the field or completed training to become a health unit coordinator, you may be eligible to take the National Health Unit Coordinator Certification Examination. Read on to learn more about what you might expect and how you can prepare for this exam. Schools offering Finance and Health Care degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Exam Overview

Sometimes called medical secretaries or ward clerks, health unit coordinators perform many of the administrative duties in a hospital, clinic or nursing home. This may include preparing patients' records, maintaining medical supply inventories and scheduling appointments.

Current or aspiring health unit coordinators with a high school diploma can sit for the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators, Inc.'s (NAHUC) National Health Unit Coordinator Certification Examination (www.nahuc.org). Candidates who pass this written exam are designated Certified Health Unit Coordinators (CHUC). In order to stay certified, you must complete 36 continuing education hours within the following three years or retake the exam.

Obtaining a CHUC credential may also qualify you for positions that mandate certification as a prerequisite for employment. If you're already employed as a heath unit coordinator, this credential may help you advance your career.

Important Facts About Health Unit Coordinators

Key Skills Integrity, interpersonal skills, organizational skills, writing skills
On-the-Job Training Short-term training, typically up to a few weeks
Entry-level Education High school diploma, may require college-level courses in word processing and office procedures
Similar Occupations Medical record technicians, medical transcriptionists, medical administrative assistant, medical billing and coding specialist

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Exam Topics

This exam is divided into four categories; these cover order management, health unit coordination, equipment and technical procedures and professional development. The order management category covers processing orders, notifying others about the orders and requesting needed supplies, equipment and patient information. The health unit coordination category covers patient admission, patient transfer and discharge, clerical responsibilities (such as maintaining unit materials and filing reports), record keeping, staff management, workplace safety and security and confidentiality.

The equipment and technical procedures section covers patient and personnel communication and the usage of computers, peripherals and other equipment. The professional development section covers personnel training, critical thinking and individual development.

Exam Preparation

You can download the free certificate candidate handbook from the NAHUC, which contains a list of textbooks and reference manuals that can help you prepare for the exam. Some technical schools and community colleges offer certificate programs and continuing education classes that can also prepare you for the exam.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most medical secretaries, including health unit coordinators, worked in physicians' offices and general hospitals in May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The career outlook between 2014 and 2024 was expected to be good, with very fast job growth of 21% expected for medical secretaries. Health unit coordinators earned a median salary of $35,619 in January 2016, according to PayScale.com.

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