Clerks at Work
A day in the life of inpatient and outpatient clerks
They are the first smiling faces patients and visitors see when they arrive for appointments. They perform behind-the-scenes work that ensures clinicians have all the necessary information and support they need. And they are the last set of helping hands a patient experiences before leaving.
They are inpatient and outpatient clerks and they keep the Health System running smoothly.
Lori Lathers is a senior training specialist in Central Staffing Resources who trains inpatient unit clerks. She says that working inpatient is one of the most stressful, but important, jobs there is.
“They touch and support almost every aspect of care on the floors. They are the inpatient customer service rep for the unit, the ‘go-to’ person for everything. Doctors order tests but inpatient clerks coordinate getting those tests done,” she says.
It’s not uncommon for an inpatient clerk to manage hundreds of transactions per day—from phone calls to patient orders.
“We help everybody keep going—from scheduling admissions and transfers to ordering equipment and answering phones,” says Natasha Battle, a floating inpatient services assistant. “It would be hard for nurses to stop and do everything. We help them move more freely and help things along the way.”
There are more than 300 inpatient unit clerks and thousands of outpatient clerks who support business operations for the more than 1.6 million clinic visits and 43,000 admissions in the Hospitals and Health Centers per year.
“These jobs are very critical,” says Latoya Griffin, clinic office manager for the Cardiovascular Center clinic on floor 3. “When patients walk into the clinic, my staff (check-in and check-out clerks, medical records clerks, billing clerks, surgery schedulers) are the people who greet patients, direct them where to go and make sure appropriate business and demographic information is captured and coordinated to ensure patients make it through their visits seamlessly from check-in to check-out.”
Whether it’s helping patients find their way or scheduling complicated follow-up appointments, customer service drives the work they do.
“I like the challenge of trying to get the tests scheduled on the same day and to coordinate everything for their benefit to make it easier for [patients],” says MaryAnn Byrnes, patient services assistant in the Cardiovascular Center clinic. Sometimes the job feels like being a social worker too because patients need someone to talk to. In my conversations, I often learn about things and realize we have additional help to offer. I can then get them in touch with the help they need.”
Inside View Editorial Advisory Group
Erin Block, UMHS Marketing Communications
Constance Bridges, Office of the Dean, Medical School
Paula Greeno, Office of the EVPMA
Judy Hallberg, S.P.H.R., UMMS Human Resources
Kelly, UMHS Human Resources
Eric Kratochwill, UMHHC Office of the CEO
Rick Krupinski, Editor, Medicine at Michigan
Alisa Morningstar, UMHS, MFit Health Promotion
Sara Nielsen, Safety Management Services
Tammy Nipper, UMMS Human Resources
Juanita Parry, Nurse Recruitment & Retention
Steve Raymond, UMHHC Leadership & Staff Development
Karen Schlueter, Livonia Health Center
Carole Strong, House Officers Association
Michael Harrison, chief public relations and marketing officer, UMHS
Allison Krieger, editor, and manager, internal and Web communications, UMHS
Jessica Soulliere, assistant editor, associate public relations representative, UMHS
Juliet Fuller, associate administrative assistant, PRMC
Vince Kasaba, associate Web designer, UMHS
Shantell Kirkendoll, lead public relations representative, UMMS
Beth Johnson, senior technical writer, UMHS
Cathy Mellett, contributing writer
Geoff O'Connor, web developer