Healthcare Job Descriptions

Below are some of the more popular Healthcare job descriptions that includes a brief description of job duties and typical educational requirements.

Admissions Clerk

Typically works in a hospital, physician's office, or outpatient facility. The admissions clerk is usually the first person the patients sees. They greet the patient, collect patient information such as name, address, and contact info as well as collect insurance information. They also set up appointments, and take insurance co-pay’s and other patient payments. The admissions clerk may also have patients fill out a variety of forms related to insurance, medical history, HIPAA privacy, etc. and reviews this paperwork to insure they are filled out and signed as needed. Clerks may also enter this information into the medical records or practice management software, scan the forms, or file this information.

Education required is a minimum high school diploma. More common is the completion of an administrative assistant program offered by a vocational or community college ranging from a certificate up to a two year associates degree.


Chiropractor

Chiropractors use natural treatment methods to deal with ailments of the musculoskeletal system. This primarily includes the spine, back, and neck. The philosophy is based on the alignment of the joints and spine and the related impact on the nervous system. Chiropractors also treat patients through changes in lifestyle, exercise, and diet. Chiropractors cannot prescribe medication other than recommend herbal and over the counter medications.

To become a Chiropractor requires graduating from an accredited program recognized by the Council on Chiropractic Education and earning a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. This is not the same as a medical doctor or MD degree. A bachelors degree is not a requirement for entering chiropractic school, however candidates must complete 90 semester hours to be accepted into a chiropractic program. Achieving a Doctor of Chiropractic typically takes four years.

Chiropractors are required to be licensed by passing a four part test given by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE). Maintaining their license requires meeting continuing education requirements. Most states recognize the NBCE testing for licensure.


Cardiovascular Technician (or Cardiovascular Technologist)

Cardiovascular technicians help physicians diagnose and treat heart and other diseases related to blood vessels and the circulatory system. They work mostly in hospital environments. The technologist also helps in the treatment of these conditions. This could include gathering patient medical history, preparing patients for tests, keeping the patient informed on procedures and tests or assisting the physician in performing procedures. Many heart patients undergo tests which a cardiovascular technologist would assist with or administer. This would include an electrocardiogram (EKG), and the associated electrodes and monitors when performing a stress test.

These procedures are frequently catheterizations which involves threading a small tube through the patients artery. The technologist may assist in monitoring the patients vital signs during these procedures. Technologists may times using imaging equipment to assist in diagnosing a patient's condition. This could include ultrasound or more advanced imaging equipment.

They may also perform non-invasive tests using ultrasound to detect issues with a patients heart or circulatory system. Training for the cardiovascular technician typically involves attending a two or four year program from an accredited school.


Dentist

Dentists treat problems associated with the teeth and gums. They also provide preventive advice in brushing, flossing, and diet. Dentists frequently use x-rays to identify and cavities or other problems with the teeth and gums. If a suspect tooth is found, the dentist will more closely examine the integrity of the tooth. Treatment may involve removing decay, filling cavities, applying sealants, removing tooth, performing root canals, and restorative treatments such as crowns. Dentists also repair cracked or broken teeth and frequently administer anesthetics during these procedures to prevent pain.

A branch of dentistry called Endodontics specializes in performing more invasive procedures such as root canals. The area of dentistry that specializes in straightening teeth and correcting bite problems is called Orthodontics. Periodontists are another common specialty responsible for treating gum diseases and the underlying bones which support the teeth.

Many times a dentist will manage a small office that can include a receptionist, dental assistant, hygienist, and possible a lab technician.

Dentists are require a license to practice in the United States. The American Dental Association is the professional organization which promotes the profession. Before entering dental school, a student must have at least 2 years of college education. Dental school typically lasts another four years.


Dental Assistant

A dental assistant prepares the patient for dental procedures, sets up the necessary equipment, and assists the dentist during procedures. At the beginning of the visit, they seat the patient, prepare for dental procedures, and retrieve the patients files. During procedures the dental assistant handing the dentist tools, applies suction to the patients mouth, and holds instruments. They may also take x-rays, impressions, and order supplies. They also give instruction in oral hygiene and care after a dental procedure.

Responsibilities may also include assisting at the front office with scheduling follow-up appointments, updating patient files, and processing insurance or patient payments. More accomplished assistants may help with dental impressions and crowns. Many states regulate the functions a dental assistant may perform without training and experience.

Some dental assistants learn on the job. A formal training program offered through community colleges and vocational schools can last from 6 months to two years.


Dental Hygienist

A dental hygienist is less of an administrative role than the dental assistant. They are primarily responsible for patient preventive dental care and typically perform teeth cleaning and other common dental procedures and tests without the supervision of the dentist. During the cleaning process they will remove plaque from teeth, apply fluoride, and inspect teeth and gums for any signs of decay or disease. Other responsibilities include showing patients how to brush and floss and care for teeth after a procedure.

Education is typically a two year associates degree from an accredited school in dental hygiene. Most states also require a license in order to practice in the field. Since they are licensed, most do not pursue certification credentials in the field.

The American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) is the professional association that promotes the dental hygiene profession.


Emergency Medical Technician (EMT, Paramedic)

EMT or Paramedics provide emergency medical treatment and are the first responders for medical emergencies. They provide initial treatment, assessment, and stabilization of a patient and make sure they are safely transported to the hospital. EMT job responsibilities depend on the level of training and certification.

Here’s a short summary of the different EMT classifications. The responsibilities of each classification are established by each state and may vary:

First Responder provides basic first aid and are trained in how to move patients.

EMT-Basic can give prescribed medication and perform non-invasive tasks such as apply splints, control bleeding, and provide oxygen to the patient.

EMT Intermediate 1985 can perform more invasive procedures. This includes administering intravenous fluids and clearing the patients airway.

EMT-Intermediate 1999 can give medication to for the heart and more invasive procedures to remove internal air or fluid from a patient.

EMT-Paramedic can administer medication orally or intravenously. They can also perform surgical procedures to clear the patient's airway and install catheters.

Many community colleges and universities offer EMT training programs. These programs can take from six months to four years depending on the level of training and credentials. Certification for EMT’s is through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians through testing and continuing education.


Medical Assistant (Medical Administrative Assistant, Medical Office Assistant)

The medical assistant performs administrative and clinical tasks for licensed health care providers to keep their offices running efficiently. The medical assistant can be certified or registered, but many are not. Many are trained on the job. Workplace is typically in doctor or clinic offices, hospitals, inpatient and outpatient facilities, and urgent care facilities. There is a certification available called the Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) from the American Association of Medical Assistants. Typical duties:


  • Updates and files patient medical records
  • Schedule appointments
  • Prepare and maintain treatment rooms
  • Obtain vital signs and greet patients
  • Manage and distribute mail
  • May perform some medical billing tasks
  • May communicate with insurance companies, other physician offices, and patients
  • Makes hospital admission arrangements
  • Completes insurance forms
  • Obtains patient demographic information
  • Bookkeeping and accounting of patient accounts and office accounts
  • Orders medical supplies and perform office bookkeeping

Medical Biller (Medical Billing Specialist, Insurance Claim Specialist)

Collect and entering claim information. Post insurance and patients and manage accounts. Submit claims and following up with insurance carriers on unpaid or rejected claims. Answer patient inquires on account status and charges. Typically reports to billing supervisor or provider office manager. Typical duties:


  • Enter information for insurance claims including name, insurance ID, diagnosis and treatment codes with modifiers, and provider ID. Makes sure claim information is complete and accurate.
  • Submits insurance claims to clearinghouse or insurance company electronically or by paper.
  • Answers patient questions on patient about their accounts. May work with patients to set up a payment plan.
  • Follows up on unpaid or rejected claims and re-submits claims.
  • Prepares patient statements and sends them out.
  • Posts insurance and patient payments in practice management software.
  • Prepares secondary claims for patients with multiple insurance coverage.
  • Follows HIPAA guidelines in handling patient information.
  • Creates reports showing the status of insurance claims and patient accounts.
  • Verifies patient eligibility.
  • Working knowledge of diagnosis and treatment codes.

Medical Coder (Medical Coding Specialist)

A medical coder analyzes patient charts and assigns appropriate diagnosis and treatment codes. The diagnoses are ICD-9-CM codes (soon to be ICD-10 codes) and the corresponding CPT treatment codes. The treatment codes may also have additional coding referred to as modifiers that more specifically defines the treatment. Once the codes are determined the coder may enter these into the practice management (or medical billing) software. These codes are important in determining the insurance company payments to the provider.

There are a variety of medical coding credentials and specialties available through organizations such as American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).


Medical Office Manager

The medical office manager has responsibility for medical office administration and operation. The duties of the office manager depend a lot on the size of the practice or facility. For a larger practice this may include supervising office staff which would include the receptionist, billing specialist, or anyone who performs administrative functions. They may also interview and hire these positions. They typically oversee medical office functions such as billing, scheduling appointments, greeting patients, managing patient files, bookkeeping, and ordering office supplies.

A good medical office manager should have good leadership and organizational abilities, the ability to resolve conflict, customer service and communications skills, and the ability to multitask and prioritize work.

A medical office manager will typically have as a minimum an associates or bachelors degree in business or a related field.


Medical Records Technician (Health Information Technician, Medical Information Technician)

Medical records technicians organizes and manages patient information for a health care provider or facility. They are responsible for insuring the patient records are accurate, complete, accessible, and secure. This information includes - but is not limited to - diagnosis, treatment, symptoms, tests and examinations with results, medication, etc.

Most medical records are electronic requiring the technician to be familiar with electronic medical records software - also referred to as EMR (electronic medical records) or EHR (electronic health records). Before entering information into the EMR system, the medical records technician reviews forms and insures they are completed correctly, accurate, and have the proper authorizations.

With the significant changes in healthcare technology and government mandated changes, the role of the medical records technician is becoming very important. Federal government initiatives such as HIPAA, Meaningful Use, and the Affordable Care Act will make the records technician a key person for these programs.

Typical education needed to become a medical records technician is a minimum two year associates degree. Many vocational, community, and technical schools offer programs in health information technology. Established universities also offer four year bachelors programs for those interested in management positions in the field.

Typically certification is not required for medical records jobs. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers several types of certification in the field.


Medical Secretary (Medical Administrative Assistant)

Medical Secretaries perform the administrative assistant duties in a healthcare environment. Typical responsibilities are typing and use of word processors, email, and spreadsheets to prepare reports and presentations. They also must be proficient in using telephone systems, setting up meetings and video conferences, and manage the the office supply needs.

Training goes beyond the typical administrative assistant curriculum to include medical terminology, procedures, and medical records as well as the nomenclature unique to their physicians field of specialty.

A medical secretary will commonly have as a minimum a two year associates degree and some experience or training in the medical field.


Medical Transcriptionist

Traditional medical transcription is the process of converting voice recorded or handwritten information dictated by physicians or other health care providers into text format. The transcriptionist recognizes mistakes and inconsistencies in medical terminology, anatomy, and medication and consulting with the physician to correct.

The medical transcriptionist will typically listen to recordings on headphones and enters text into a computer word processor or similar application dedicated for transcription.

The transcription files received can be in either digital or analog format (like a tape recording), but most frequently digital as these files can be transmitted or downloaded electronically. Medical transcription is the primary way for a health care provider to communicate with other providers who access medical records.

The transcribed reports are typically stored electronically. These documents can be physical examination reports, medical history, autopsy results, operation reports, or diagnostic studies. The transcription documents are returned to the provider for review, correction, and approval. The transcribed records may be printed on paper and maintained as part of the patient file.

Medical transcriptionists typically complete as a minimum a one year certificate to a two year associates program in transcription. These can be obtained through community or vocational schools.


Nurse (Registered Nurse, LPN)

Nurses work in a wide variety of healthcare settings. The most common are hospitals, physicians offices, clinics, nursing homes, outpatient facilities. The “RN” designation is for Registered Nurse who has completed an associates or bachelors degree and passed the nursing certification exam. The “LPN” is for Licensed Practical Nurse which has completed one year of coursework after high school.

There are many different types of nurses and many different career paths in the profession. Nurses make up one of the largest professions in health care.

A nurses responsibility is to carry out the treatments and medications prescribed by the physician. Nurses spend more time with the patient and work hard to make sure the patient treatment is successful. They also serve an important role in comforting and reassuring a patient during their recovery and are involved in every part of a patients care. Other duties include may include administering IV’s, injections, maintaining medical records, assisting with hygiene and preparation for surgical procedures.

The American Nursing Association is the most popular nursing association.


Nursing Assistant (Nursing Aide)

The Nursing Assistant is also referred to as an orderly. They typically work in a hospital, nursing home, or as a home health aide. Duties include assisting a patient with activities such as bathing, eating, getting dressed, or transportation within the healthcare facility. Many nursing assistants have Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) credentials. Nursing Aides will spend a lot of time with a patient and should have good interpersonal skills. They are typically supervised or directed by a nurse or physician.

Many vocational or technical colleges offer CNA programs that can be completed anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months.


Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists work with patients who have temporary or permanent disabilities to learn basic life and motor skills. These disability may be caused by illness, developmental problems, brain injury, mental disorder, or another physical issue. Typical work settings are in hospitals, nursing homes, a patient’s home, or educational facilities. The therapist will usually use physical exercises as part of the treatment plan. The Occupational Therapist must maintain very detailed records of the patients progress.

An occupational therapist helps to teach and train patients how to shop at a store, dine at a restaurant, take public transportation, converse with others, tell time, and other basic skills and tasks which are necessary for the patient to have some degree of independence in life, or in work settings.

Education to become an Occupational Therapist is usually either a Masters or Doctorate degree. At a minimum this could take 5 to 6 years to complete.

Certification is voluntary and given by the National Board for Certifying Occupational Therapy. The credential is called the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) certification upon passing the certification exam.


Pharmacist

A Pharmacist is responsible for dispensing prescription medications and informing the patient about the drugs and any interactions special instruction for taking the medication. provide information about the drugs their doctors have ordered for them. They explain doctors' instructions to patients so that these individuals can use these medications safely and effectively. The pharmacist also provide advice and recommendations for over-the-counter medication.

To become a pharmacist requires earning a Doctor of Pharmacy degree which typically takes 4 years to complete. This is in addition to at least two years of college study and successful completion of a Pharmacy College Admissions Test.

All Pharmacists are licensed within the state that they practice and must pass the North American Pharmacist Exam which is given by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). Many states also require passing the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam which concerns pharmacy law.


Physician Assistant

A physician assistant practices medicine under the supervision of a physician and perform many of the same duties as the physician. A physician assistant does not perform administrative duties like a medical assistant.

The educational requirements for becoming a physician assistant is a masters degree from an institution with an accredited Physician Assistant program. This typically takes two years in addition to the four years required to complete a bachelors degree.  

To become a practicing Physician Assistant requires successfully passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination. This exam is given by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). Every six years a PA must become recertified by completing 100 hours of continuing education every two years. Certification


Physical Therapist

The Physical Therapist assists patients with physical limitations that can be the result of injuries to the head or back, stroke, arthritis, or other injuries or handicaps. Physical therapy treatment begins with an evaluation of the patients needs through observation and a review of their medical history in order to develop a treatment plan.

To be effective and successful in the field requires the ability to relate to a patient, a compassionate understanding of their situation, and ability to motivate them to reach their treatment goals.

Physical Therapy treatment will involve exercises designed to increase mobility, coordination, range of motion, and strength. Work setting can be a hospital, nursing home, outpatient care facilities, or the patient’s home.

Becoming a physical therapist requires as a minimum a bachelors degree from an accredited program and successfully passing a licensing exam. Many in the field also complete a masters degree which typically takes another two years. Maintaining licensure requires continuing education in the field.

Healthcare Job Descriptions




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