Healthcare Career Spotlight: the Patient Transporter

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A patient transporter, also referred to in some hospital systems as an orderly, is a multi-skilled allied healthcare worker whose primary workplace responsibility involves the safe transport of patients and clients from one destination to another within hospitals and other types of healthcare facilities. A competent patient transporter uses his or her skills to make things easier for patients and medical staff at healthcare facilities.

Most nurses and other healthcare workers would readily agree about the extreme usefulness of patient transporters. Furthermore, patient transporters are really important assets to the healthcare team at many hospitals because without their assortment of skills, many medical care settings would have extreme difficulty dealing with the most routine operations.

After all, facilities that do not use patient transporters usually force members of nursing staff to complete all transporting. For instance, a nurse who must transport a patient from the cardiac floor of a hospital to the interventional radiology suite must leave his other patients unattended for up to 30 minutes while he accompanies the lone patient. Imagine how inconvenient this would be for that nurse and his other patients!

Generally, the patient transporter needs to have a kind disposition, a lot of patience and an empathetic outlook toward the ill patients and clients that require transporting from one location to another. In addition, good body mechanics and some physical strength would be immensely useful due to the fact that patient transporters must bend, lift heavy loads, twist, and do a great deal of standing during a typical work shift.

The role of patient transporting has grown in recent years, so patient transporters have had to rise to the occasion to keep up with the demands and complexities of the present day health system in the United States.  Patient transporters transfer patients from beds to wheelchairs or stretchers to transport them to various locations, push occupied and unoccupied wheelchairs, and assist people to get into vehicles such as cars and vans.

Safety is essential when working as a patient transporter. They must transfer patients with extreme care and caution to avoid injuring themselves or the people they have been entrusted to transport. Confidentiality is imperative for patient transporters since they verify clients’ identities prior to transport and are privy to protected health information and other private matters. They must also adhere to infection control principles.

Patient transporters may have additional duties such as wheeling or pushing patients to the correct location within hospitals, taking patients to medical appointments, assisting patients onto examination tables, and transporting patients to the curbside or parking lot of the hospital in order to board ambulances and/or non-emergency medical transportation vans. Patient transporters also document their tasks upon completion.

In addition to transporting clients, patient transporters often transport and hand-deliver items such as heavy equipment, specimens and lab/diagnostic results to various locations within the hospital. At some facilities, patient transporters routinely transport bodies of deceased patients to the hospital morgue. Depending on the type of facility, some patient transporters serve as van drivers who drive clients to and from appointments.

Since the role of patient transporting requires constant contact with people, patient transporters should feel comfortable interacting with a wide variety of persons including patients, nurses, physicians, family members, coworkers, managers, visitors, vendors and others. Moreover, patient transporters must have a knack for swiftly gaining the trust and cooperation of the many patients who require transport each day.

Patient transporters can be found working in places of employment such as acute care hospitals, large skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, personal care group homes and non-emergency transportation companies. Individuals who have an interest in entering this healthcare career pathway must usually have a high school diploma or G.E.D. before training for this specific position on the job.

Prior work experience in the allied healthcare field and/or professional certification as an emergency medical technician (EMT) or certified nursing assistant (CNA) can be helpful to prepare for the daily functions of a patient transporter. Also, professional certification can provide a potential advantage that might result in an applicant standing out in a sea of other job seekers who apply for patient transporter positions.

The demand for patient transporters in the job market is projected to remain steady well into the near future. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, which classifies patient transporters under the Orderlies employment category, the projected growth rate for this specific position is 11 percent through the year 2024. This projected growth rate exceeds the average for all other jobs.

Much of this growth in patient transporter job openings can be attributed to the large wave of the Baby Boomer generation that is expected to have a profound impact on healthcare facilities. Aging members of the Baby Boomer cohort are already entering the healthcare system and requiring transport from one location to another. Therefore, patient transporters are very much needed in the employment market.

People who live and/or work in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas should call Legacy Healthcare Careers at (682)626-5266 to jump-start a life-transforming career in the healthcare industry. Legacy Healthcare Careers offers affordable career training as well as job placement assistance. Call today...

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How Does the Opioid Epidemic Affect the Healthcare Field in the United States?

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The opioid epidemic, also known as the opioid crisis, first gained serious traction in the United States during the 1990s decade due to a number of momentous factors such as a marked increase in the number of pain killer prescriptions along with the fiercely addictive qualities of these medications. Also, big name pharmaceutical companies started to aggressively market and advertise opioid prescription drugs in the 1990s.

Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic has been having an awful impact on numerous individuals, their families, American society, and the healthcare field as a whole over the course of the previous two decades. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018), the number of overdose deaths involving prescription opioid drugs has been on a noticeable rise since 1999 with no slowdown in sight.

So, in what ways does the opioid epidemic affect the healthcare field in the U.S.? Well, people from all walks of life are addicted to opioids, so this epidemic has most certainly impacted many of the patients, coworkers and visitors who are participants in the healthcare system. The following list consists of the various ways in which the current opioid crisis has affected the healthcare field.

  • Impaired healthcare workers and providers: Many physicians, nurses, technicians and other allied healthcare workers have battled fierce addictions to opioids. Some healthcare professionals have even had their professional licenses and/or certifications revoked due to impaired practice or an inability to conquer their addictions. Other healthcare workers have entered drug rehab or chemical dependency programs.
  • Treatment of overdose: There has been a sharp increase in the number of addicted patients who are entering the healthcare system by way of rolling into hospital emergency departments on stretchers after having suffered opioid overdoses. In some regions, overburdened emergency medical service providers regularly deal with shortages of Narcan, the injectable medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose.
  • Drug rehabilitative services: Some people enter the healthcare system by opting to receive inpatient drug rehab or participate in chemical dependency programs to battle their addictions to opioids. The number of health insurance plans that cover some or all of the costs associated with drug rehab or chemical dependency treatment has grown larger. Thus, many addicted persons are fighting their addictions by using these avenues.
  • Treatment of chronic disease processes: Still, some patients end up in the healthcare system for treatment of chronic hepatitis C, HIV and other bloodborne illnesses after contracting these viruses by using unclean hypodermic needles to inject opioid drugs. Many people who inject heroin were once users of prescription opioid pain pills. However, an alarming number of these folks switched to heroin since it is cheaper and delivers the same type of high.
  • Pain management clinics: Physicians who work in the specialty of pain medicine can earn very lucrative incomes due in part to the opioid epidemic. A pain doctor is a medical physician (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) who specializes in pain medicine. Pain management clinics, referred to as ‘pain clinics’ for short, are doing brisk business as a result of the number of drug-seeking patients who visit them to request prescriptions and refills for opioid medications.
  • Impaired family members and visitors: Nurses, nursing assistants, patient care technicians and other healthcare workers who deliver direct patient care at the bedside must occasionally deal with visitors who are obviously impaired. Almost any experienced healthcare worker can describe the so-called ‘opioid nod’ with stunning accuracy because they have seen so many family members nodding off while visiting with hospitalized patients.
  • Infants born to addicted mothers: Newborns who are exposed to opioids during the prenatal period begin to experience severe withdrawal symptoms within 48 to 72 hours after birth. This heartbreaking phenomenon is referred to as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Moreover, the number of infants being born with neonatal abstinence syndrome has been increasing steadily due to the large number of pregnant women who abuse opioid drugs.
  • Lost productivity: The opioid crisis is putting a burdensome strain on employers and corporations, including many healthcare companies. The steepest monetary costs linked with the opioid epidemic arise mainly due to lost productivity and earnings losses for corporations. Untimely overdose deaths and opioid addiction disorders also affect municipal, county, state and federal governments in a detrimental manner by way of losses in tax revenue.
  • Staggeringly high healthcare costs: Healthcare costs connected with the opioid epidemic have exceeded $200 billion since 2001. These expenses are primarily due to pre-hospital emergency medical services (a.k.a. ambulance care), visits to local emergency departments, and the widespread use of Narcan, a medication that rapidly reverses the effects of opioid overdose. Also, opioid addicts cost their employers approximately twice as much in healthcare expenses when compared to their non-addicted workmates.

Healthcare Career Spotlight: the Medical Office Assistant

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A medical office assistant, also known as an administrative medical assistant or front office medical assistant, is a multifaceted allied healthcare professional whose primary function is to ensure that the front office area of physicians’ offices, clinics, medical groups and hospital units runs smoothly. A competent medical office assistant puts an array of soft interpersonal skills and hard procedural skills to use every single workday to get the job done.

Medical office assistants are vital members of the healthcare team because without their varied skill set, many healthcare settings would have difficulty managing day to day operations. In general, the medical office assistant tends to be the very first individual with whom patients, clients vendors and visitors come into contact at most physicians’ offices and clinic settings. Thus, these multi-skilled healthcare workers serve as the front line backbones of many workplace settings.

The allied health occupation of front office medical assisting has expanded greatly over the past few decades. Therefore, the role of the typical medical office assistant has also expanded to keep up with modern times.  Medical office assistants complete tasks such as scheduling patients’ appointments, greeting and checking patients and visitors in, coordinating visits with guests such as pharmaceutical representatives, and contacting vendors to reorder supplies.

Medical office assistants may also be responsible for clerical duties such as computer data entry, conducting phone interviews, verifying clients’ personal health information, obtaining signatures on new patient forms, sending faxes, compiling charts, filing paperwork, scanning documents, maintaining the orderly appearance of the reception area, and ensuring that diagnostic results reach the appropriate healthcare providers.

Depending on the policies of the specific workplace, many medical office assistants also carry out tasks that are either directly or indirectly related to monetary collection. Some of these duties may include gathering information on health insurance payer sources, processing payments in exchange for healthcare services, generating receipts, making patients aware of co-payment and/or coinsurance amounts, scanning documents such as insurance cards, and setting up payment plans.

Since the field of medical assisting entails intensive contact with people, medical office assistants need to be extremely comfortable interacting with a variety of individuals including patients, physicians, coworkers, visitors, families, vendors and others. The role of a medical office assistant necessitates effective communication skills. In addition, medical office assistants must have the ability to quickly establish trust and cooperation with the multitude of people who visit the healthcare setting on a daily basis.

Medical office assistants are employed primarily in workplaces such as clinics, multi-specialty medical group practices, acute care hospital wards, physicians’ offices, and ambulatory surgical centers. After amassing several years of experience, some medical assistants secure employment as medical office assistant instructors at trade schools, community colleges, technical colleges, and private for-profit academies.

Persons with an interest in entering this career pathway must usually have a high school diploma or G.E.D. before completing a training program in medical assisting that results in a postsecondary certificate, diploma or associate of applied science degree. Medical office assistant diploma and certificate programs are typically less than one year long. On the other hand, programs that lead to an associate of applied science degree generally take two years to complete from start to finish.

Medical office assistant career training programs are offered at several different types of postsecondary schools such as technical colleges, community colleges, trade schools, state universities, vocational schools, adult education centers, regional occupational programs and private for-profit academies.

Most employers prefer to hire medical office assistants who possess a professional certification. As a result, a number of entities will certify the medical assistant’s vast fund of knowledge. The National Healthcareer Association, the National Center for Competency Testing and the American Medical Certification Association are three different entities that offer professional certification to medical office assistants.

Furthermore, medical office assistants remain in high demand in many employment markets for the near future. Employment of medical assistants is projected to increase by approximately 29 percent through the year 2026, which happens to be much faster than the average for all occupations. Much of this job growth is driven by grand openings and expansions of doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics and multi-specialty group practices.