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The Nursing Unit Clerk program is designed to prepare individuals to assume the duties of coordinating medical staff, nursing staff and ancillary department activities in the delivery of patient care. Students are provided the opportunity to gain the skills, knowledge and attitude necessary to manage clerical and non-clinical tasks. Students are provided with information to familiarize them with the hospital environment, functions of the nursing unit and the role of the Nursing Unit Clerk as a vital member of the health care team.

This is an intensive 23 1/2 week program that requires students to attend 5 days a week (or 35 hours a week by distance learning). Students are trained in as short an elapsed time as possible, while meeting the standards required by industry bodies and potential employers. The program focuses on the knowledge and skills needed by Nursing Unit Clerks, without any unnecessary program content. It includes extensive hands on training in lab activities at our school and on site at hospital facilities.

There are 19 weeks of Classroom and Lab instruction, followed by a 4 1/2 week practicum on site in hospital units.

800 to 815 total program hours - 665 Classroom / Lab hours, and 135 to 150 practicum hours.

Competency will be measured by both written and practical examinations. Practical material will be presented and graded in a competency-based fashion.

Course Descriptions and Hours

Level 1 Courses

Medical Terminology, Anatomy, Physiology, & Pathology - 70 Hours

This course is designed to provide students with a basic mastery of medical terminology, within the context Anatomy, Physiology & Pathology. This course provides a real-world grasp of the use of Medical Terminology, particularly as it relates to body systems. Students learn Medical Word Structure, prefixes, suffixes, and abbreviations. The learning process includes a focus on spelling, definitions, and pronunciation.

Fundamentals in Health Care Delivery - 60 Hours

This course introduces students to the BC Health Care system, with an overview of the roles of medical professions, the major types of medical service providers, and how they work together. The course focuses on the basic functions, departmental structure, and operational procedures of different types of hospitals in which a Nursing Unit Clerk may work. Particular attention is paid to the function, structure and operation of the departments where Nursing Unit Clerks work, as well as the departments, services and staff members with which Nursing Unit Clerks most commonly interact.

Students are then introduced to the responsibilities of a Nursing Unit Clerk, and the skills and knowledge required to effectively perform these responsibilities.

Students are also introduced to the Meditech system used at hospitals throughout BC, and this system is used throughout this and all subsequent courses in the program so students learn both manual and automated Unit Clerk procedures.

This course also covers the medical ethics and laws that govern the behavior of allied health personnel in patient care. Upon completion of this course, Nursing Unit Clerk students will understand the rules of confidentiality and know how to apply them to the workplace. Topics covered include:

  • Patient Consents
  • DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), Advance Directives and Living Wills
  • Power of Attorney and Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Patient Rights
  • Regulation of Medical professionals and how these regulations define what people working in health care can and cannot do
  • National Association of Health Unit Coordinators Code of Ethics
  • Consumer Rights in Health Care
  • Freedom of Information / Protection of Privacy

The course also covers the overall concepts of Health and Wellness, because it is vital for Nursing Unit Clerks and all health professionals to clearly understand that everything they do is intended to improve or maintain the health and wellness of clients.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills - 75 Hours

This course teaches students that communication is a vital function of the Nursing Unit Clerk, and instructs them in understanding human behavior, value systems, the elements and components of communication, listening skills, body language, successful telephone techniques, initiating communication, and time and stress management, working effectively as a team member, confidentiality, assertive behavior, critical thinking, and understanding and respecting cultural diversity.

Students are introduced to the communication devices and resources they will encounter in their working environment. Also stressed is the importance of keeping resources current, filing new forms as they arrive on the Unit and relaying important information to appropriate staff as necessary.

This course also delves into more detail on the key elements of professionalism:

  • Why professionalism is important to patients, employers and health careworkers.
  • Effectively working with others (teamwork, diversity, manners, conflict resolution)

Through lectures, presentations, case studies and other methods, students learn how to effectively communicate with co-workers, visitors, patients, nurses, doctors, and staff from other departments.

Students also learn how to handle complaints and engage in problem solving. Adapting to diverse backgrounds and communication styles, the Nursing Unit Clerk must demonstrate empathy and respect for others.

This course also covers Resume preparation and Job Search techniques

Keyboarding - Self Study (no hours allocated)

Students must type 50 net wpm to successfully pass this program, but the entrance criterion is only 40 wpm. "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing" is available on campus computers, and is the tool used to test typing speed on site.

Level 2 Courses

Patient Chart Records/Meditech Applications- 45 Hours

This course introduces the student to the many forms which make up patients' charts and the purpose and use of these forms. Using case study examples and actual forms from the hospital, the learner will create patient charts. The course covers:

  • how a patient chart is physically organized
  • how the chart is sectioned among the various dividers
  • the importance of accuracy and timeliness in maintaining the chart
  • privacy, security, and who has access to the patient chart
  • legal considerations
  • supplemental chart forms
  • maintenance of patient records
  • function of an addressograph
  • filing procedures
  • Electronic Medical Record applications in Meditech

Patient Chart Records are a means of communication between the doctor and the hospital staff. They are used for planning and tracking patient care, and for educational purposes. As a legal document the medical record protects the patient, the doctor, the staff and the hospital. It is a history of patient illnesses, care, treatment and outcomes.

Admissions Transfers, Discharges and Deaths - 65 Hours

This course teaches the student to process patient charts and electronic records for admissions, transfers in, intra-department transfers, room transfers, transfers to other hospitals or facilities, discharges, and deaths. Students will simulate these processes through paper records and the Meditech system.

This Course also introduces the student to Electronic Health Record systems. Students will be provided with an overview of these systems and the functions performed by Nursing Unit Clerks on these systems. Students will be introduced to Meditech and will begin to learn basic operations on this system. Use of the Meditech system will continue throughout other courses in the program. Topics include:

  • Obtaining old charts
  • Receiving a patient from another unit
  • Handling patient valuables
  • The differences between scheduled, urgent, direct, elective and emergency admissions
  • Advance directives, living wills and Power of attorney for health care
  • Daycare Surgery, Pre-operative reports, and Post-operative reports
  • Tasks required to complete a routine discharge
  • Transfer of a patient from one unit to another, to another room or another facility
  • Clerical responsibilities in case of patient death
  • Processing Admissions, discharges, transfers and deaths using the EMR

Pharmacology for Allied Health Occupations - 50 Hours

This course introduces students to the categories and therapeutic uses of commonly used medications in the hospital. Students learn basic pharmacological terminology, the brand and generic names of very common medications, and how to use reference resources to look up information about medications.

There is also a critical focus on the importance of patient safety relating to medications. Information about dosages and automatic discontinuance is stressed.

Transcription of Medication Orders - 50 Hours

Students learn how to interpret information on Physicians' medication orders including dosages, modes of administration and frequencies. The course teaches students about the Nursing Unit Clerk's role in processing medication orders and recording orders. Students learn how to transcribe these orders through hands on simulations, using doctor's orders. Topics covered include:

  • Types of orders
  • Use of abbreviations and acronyms
  • Components of a medication order
  • Intravenous (IV) solutions and IV therapy orders
  • Solving problems with the orders – case studies
  • Meditech Applications used to access the Pharmacy department menu

At the end of the course, Students will be able to demonstrate the knowledge and skills to transcribe orders using the seven steps of order transcription: "Scan the orders, Send the Pharmacy copy, Prioritize, Kardex, Requisition, Symbolize, Flag".

Nursing Care and Treatment Orders – 30 Hours

In this course the student will learn how to identify orders for Nursing Care and Treatment, such as activity/positioning orders, observation, vitals monitoring routines, wound care, point of care testing orders etc. We will also discuss the roles of Nursing Staff, scope of practice, nursing judgment, care plan implementation, critical thinking and interventions.

  • Students will learn the key terms and abbreviations used in nursing orders.
  • Nursing Specialties, designations and their clinical practice guidelines.
  • Learn and understand charting guidelines.
  • Computerized charting and care plan implementation using the meditech applications for Nursing.
  • Roles of nursing in discharge planning

Level 3 Courses

Transcription of Laboratory Orders - 80 Hours

In this course, the student learns about the function and operation of the various Laboratory departments. They are then introduced to the role of the Nursing Unit Clerk in processing Laboratory orders and how the Nursing Unit Clerk interacts with the Laboratory. Students learn about the different types of specimens that are sent to the Laboratory, and the terminology, abbreviations and acronyms that are used in Laboratory orders.

Students learn how to interpret information on different Laboratory orders, and what their role is in recording orders and receiving results back from the Laboratory. Students learn how to transcribe these orders through hands on simulations using the Meditech system. Topics covered include:

  • Types of orders (Hematology, Chemistry, Microbiology, Blood Bank and Pathology)
  • Use of abbreviations and acronyms
  • Components of a Laboratory order
  • Specimens sent out to external laboratories
  • Solving problems regarding lab orders – case studies.
  • Meditech applications for ordering lab procedures

Transcription of Diagnostic Orders - 60 Hours

Students learn about the different diagnostic departments in the hospital (including Medical Imaging, Pulmonary, and Electrodiagnostics), how to interpret information on Diagnostic orders, and what their role is in processing these orders, sending orders to the diagnostic departments, and receiving results. Students learn how to transcribe these orders through hands on simulations using the Meditech system.

Topics covered include:

  • Types of orders, including ECG's, EEG's, X-ray's, MRI's, CT scans
  • Use of abbreviations and acronyms
  • Components of a diagnostic order
  • Solving problems with the orders – case studies.
  • Meditech Applications for ordering diagnostic studies

Transcription of Surgical Orders - 60 Hours

Students learn about the different types of surgery performed in the hospital, how to interpret information on surgical orders, and what their role is in processing these orders. Students learn how to transcribe these orders through hands on simulations using the Meditech system. Topics covered include:

  • Types of orders (admitting, pre-operative, post-operative, and discharge orders for post op follow up of care )
  • Consents for surgery or special procedures
  • Use of abbreviations and acronyms
  • Components of a surgical orders and a surgical chart
  • Solving problems with the orders – case studies.

Support Services – 20 Hours

In this module students will learn which hospital department is responsible for; Billing, Security, Public relations, Infection control, Education services, Auxiliary Services, Volunteer Services, Pastoral care, Biomedical engineering-(maintenance of equipment) etc.

  • The student will learn about hospital codes, policies and procedures
  • Safety-WHMIS, MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets), PSLS (Patient Safety Learning System), Standard and Universal Precautions
  • Gain knowledge about JOSH, OSHA, Work Safe BC guidelines and reporting
  • Health and Safety Legislation

Level 4 Courses

Clinical Placement - 135 to 150 Hours

Clinical practicum will provide the student with a real life experience through working on-site in a health care facility while still enrolled as a student. They will be provided with two different experiences of two weeks each to put into practice all of the theory that they have learned in the program. Students work full shifts with experienced Nursing Unit Clerks who act as Preceptor, following the Preceptors' work rotations.

At the end of this practicum experience, students must have demonstrated that they can work successfully and safely as a team member on the Nursing Unit in an acute care hospital, applying all of the knowledge and skills learned in the theory courses.

Students will keep a journal during the practicum experience, and will also use a skills checklist to keep track of the skills they have been able to practice, and their performance.

Student evaluations are performed by the instructor in consultation with the Preceptors and other members of the Healthcare Team.

Students also complete a report on both the practicum experience. This report is reviewed with the instructor to discuss issues that occurred during practicum, procedures or technology that students found difficult, where there was some knowledge lacking, or where new procedures were identified that had not been covered in class.

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