August 23 is National Health Unit Coordinator Day. In honor of the observance, we caught up with one of the hard working Health Unit Coordinators for the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) Emergency Department. Joseph Heuschkel, a 2016 Spirit of Magnet Nominee, shares what it's like to be a Unit Coordinator in this fast-paced environment.
What led you to seek this profession?
The position actually found me. I was initially hired as a Patient Safety Associate for Med-Surg. The nursing director knew of my past experience and transitioned me into the role of Unit Coordinator.
What sort of experience led to your hire?
My previous experience of sixteen years was at a large insurance defense law firm in San Francisco & Los Angeles, which involved heavy desk work and organization skills. In addition, I ran a small café in Bennington for five years. My ability to multitask and interact with the public certainly prepared me for this position.
What education is required for your position?
I believe the requirements are a high school diploma; however, I have attended college, and believe that the courses taken, as well as life and prior work experience, allow me to manage the role of Unit Coordinator more efficiently.
What three or four tasks do you perform most often in your work day?
Processing and following up on lab specimens. Calling or paging outside providers. Requesting records from other facilities. Arranging transportation for discharges and transfers.
What skills have you developed since having been hired?
My ability to anticipate needs, prioritize multiple various requests; maintain a calm demeanor; and communicate with co-workers, outside facilities, and services have greatly improved since transferring to the Emergency Department.
What personality traits are most important to doing your job effectively?
Being courteous to all that I come in contact with, whether in person or on the phone, and trying to assist them.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
Answering the phone, call bells, and intercom for entry into the Emergency Department. There are times, when they all seem to ring at the same time.
What’s the most rewarding thing?
Knowing that I’m part of a team that cares for visitors to SVMC. Being thanked by patients, family, providers, and co-workers. A simple “thank you” goes along way after a hectic day.