Work In Healthcare Admin; Grow In 3 Areas

Hiring for healthcare front desk positions is difficult. After all, these staff need to have broad and specific understandings of clinical policies, operations, and practices. They, also, need to be prepared to handle all expected (and unexpected) situations with confidence.

When interviewing candidates, managers will look for staff who already have strong communication, time management, and de-escalation skills. As they grow in their roles, staff should expect continual opportunities for growth in these areas.


Staff at clinic front desks are believed to hold an almost magical power. Patients believe that staff know the intricacies of their medical history, transportation plans, and insurance policies. Doctors promise patients that their front desk staff can make nearly anything happen with one phone call.

Neither is true. The front desk staff are there to ensure that clinical operations run efficiently and smoothly. Working at the front desk is fine balance between quantity and quality. How to offer the highest and quickest service to the most patients?

Advice for staff: Understand your role. Explain what you can provide. Redirect as necessary.

Time Management:

Staff at the front desk are always busy. Most other clinical staff will only see a portion of the day’s patients. The front desk sees all of the scheduled patients at least once. There are a lot of tasks that the front desk staff are responsible for. In the middle of all of that, these staff are also on the front-lines of the clinic and responding to needs in real time.

Advice for staff: Know what needs to get done. Learn how to do it quickly. Be interrupted. Reprioritize. Start again.


No one wants to come in to the doctor. Most people can still be polite about it. Some people will walk into the office already upset. Astute staff will recognize the nonverbal signs as the patient walks in. Other staff will recognize the verbal signs after the conversation starts.

Advice for staff: The patient’s interaction with the front desk staff will damage or improve the rest of their visit. Be friendly. Be polite. Be direct.

Managers feel a lot of pressure when hiring for front desk positions. After all, the patients will meet the front desk staff first. So it’s important that these staff are prepared to create the best possible patient experience.

If a patient’s request cannot be met, the employee needs to explain why and offer alternatives. Good time management skills ensures that staff are equipped to respond to daily duties and unexpected events. De-escalation skills allow staff to address situations that are already emotional.

In healthcare, patients will misunderstand. Doctors will over promise. Daily duties need to wait until after an urgent situation finishes. Front desk staff are on the front lines of these situations. Staff who work at a clinical front desk have continual opportunities to refine communication, time management, and de-escalation skills. Regardless of what role a staff member ultimately fills, mastery in these transferable skills is a huge bonus for the employee and the manager.

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Three Important Skills To Highlight In Your Healthcare Interview

Post by Emily Manahan

Over the past four years of working in healthcare admin, I’ve interviewed applicants for a variety of different roles including nurses, medical assistants, managers, and patient service representatives.  Although each job requires a different set of skills, here are some traits we look for in every candidate.


Doctors are late.  Patients are late.  People get upset. It happens multiple times every day, which means that people working in healthcare are hyper-aware of time. Start the interview on a positive note; be on time.

Even if no one says mentions it, they will notice if you’re late.


Problem Solving

Medicine is complicated, and people are complex. Miscommunication happens. These three factors often combine to create stressful work situations. To make it more difficult, the patients are already anxious about a variety of topics ranging from their health condition to the traffic on the way to the appointment.

In an interview, expect to answer some questions meant to demonstrate how you would function in this type environment. Healthcare happens in real time. Managers are looking for team members who can function well in demanding situations. Highlight your ability to listen, analyze, and address a problem in real time. Extra points for higher stress situations!


Critical Thinking

Working in healthcare is simultaneously rewarding and unpredictable.  Due to the complexity of the field and of the patient population, there will be a lot of situations that cannot be systematically prepared for.

Expect to answer a few questions that hint toward your ability to integrate information that you’ve previously learned to create a solution for a patient.  Prepare several examples to share that demonstrate your ability to deal with an unanticipated challenge.



While it’s not a skill, credentials are required for nursing and medical assistant jobs.  Any candidate who lacks those required credentials will not be considered for the position.  Patient service and healthcare admin roles have no required credentials and therefore more flexibility. Often managers will prioritize strengths over years of experience. In all roles, clinic specific skills (like use of the medical records systems and work flows) can be taught.

In many clinics, some of the strongest team members came from outside industries.



Working in healthcare offers the opportunity to build and strengthen communication, de-escalation, leadership, and organizational skills. Due to the complexity of the field, the opportunities are endless and boredom is nowhere to be found.  Regardless of medical subspecialty, all managers look for job candidates who demonstrate punctuality, problem solving, and critical thinking.  When preparing for a healthcare interview, take time to brainstorm examples that demonstrate these punctuality, problem solving, and critical thinking.  Managers are waiting to be impressed, so walk in there and dazzle them with your personality and experiences.



1% of Physicians Account for 32% of Paid Malpractice Claims

Image from StockMonkeys.comIt turns out that some doctors are more prone to malpractice claims than others. Unsurprising as this may seem, the imbalance of malpractice claim distribution among physicians is very telling.
The New England Journal of Medicine published an article this January which outlines the distribution of malpractice claims among physicians. The article, by David Studdert, et al, concludes that 1% of physicians accounted for 32% of all paid malpractice claims over the ten year period studied.

The authors used data from the National Practitioner Data Bank to analyze over 65,000 malpractice claims which were paid out against 54,000 practitioners between 2005 and 2014. 16% of all physicians had more than one paid malpractice claim which accounted for 32% of all claims in the study. Additionally, 4% of physicians had paid three or more claims, which accounts for 12% of the total number.

Another finding of this study would indicate that those practitioners who have paid out two or more claims have a very high likelihood of facing additional suits in the following two years. 2,160 physicians who paid three claims had a 24% chance of paying another malpractice claim within that two year period. This downward spiral accounts for a majority of total claims paid out.

Physicians face malpractice suits for many reasons, and we shouldn’t make too many assumptions about those individuals who have lost claims. The study would certainly indicate that some practitioners are particularly prone to malpractice claims. This serves to underscore the importance of avoiding your first malpractice suit, and if a physician has paid one claim they may really want to learn how to avoid a second.

David M. Studdert, L.L.B., Sc.D., Marie M. Bismark, M.B., Ch.B., L.L.B., Michelle M. Mello, J.D., Ph.D., Harnam Singh, Ph.D., and Matthew J. Spittal, Ph.D. “Prevalence and Characteristics of Physicians Prone to Malpractice Claims” N Engl J Med 2016; 374:354-362January 28, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa1506137

Making the Move to Registered Nurse

The following post comes to us from Carrington College. Carrington’s medical, dental, administrative, and veterinary programs are offered at 21 locations in Arizona, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Washington states. Learn more at

Registered Nursing


Registered Nursing: The Right Choice for You?

Licensed practical nurses, vocational nurses and even high school graduates who are interested in nursing should consider becoming registered nurses (RNs). As Carrington College’s guide to Registered Nursing explains, RNs hold more jobs than any other profession in the healthcare industry while the number of practicing RNs is set to reach up to nearly 3.2 million by the year 2024. Yet, experts are predicting a shortfall of up to 1.2 million registered nurses by the year 2022.

If you want to save lives and improve healthcare for hundreds or even thousands of people, you would be hard-pressed to choose a better profession.

What Specializations are in Highest Demand?

Aspiring registered nurses will find that there are a number of specializations to pick from with additional certifications, including midwifery, critical care, emergency care, neonatal care, pain management and gerontology. Alternatively, a registered nurse may opt to choose a career in management or post-secondary education.

Even so, some specializations are in higher demand than others. Nursing specializations that are estimated to be in highest demand include emergency care, critical care, and perioperative nursing. Nurses with computer skills are also in short supply, as hospitals need RNs who can not just use but even develop and improve electronic medical record systems.

What is Right for You?

Choose a nursing specialization based on your skills, talents and aspirations. While nursing is a highly demanding job, it can be a fulfilling one if you work in a field that is important to you personally. Consider the level of education and training needed for any given specialization. Realistically assessing your schedule and finances can help you determine which type of training works for you.

Registered nurses play an integral role in the healthcare industry. If you think that this profession is right for you, consider various specialization options, choose the one or ones that you feel are best suited for you and then throw your heart into the right registered nursing training program.

Study Suggests that Healthcare Price Transparency Tools Don’t Work

An article published last Tuesday (May 3rd, 2016) seems to indicate that healthcare price transparency tools do not have the intended impact on outpatient spending. The study, conducted by Sunita Desai, et al, followed implementation of a price comparison tool across two major employers across the United States. The resource, called the Truven Health Analytics Treatment Cost Calculator, allowed insured employees to compare prices at different clinics and providers for the same treatments. A control group of employees who did not have access to the comparison tool was included in the study.

While the study only surveyed two employers, the number of employees offered access to the cost calculator was about 150,000. The control group included approximately 300,000 employees.

The results may not be what you would expect. Only 10% of the employees who were offered the tool actually accessed it. 90% of employees studied did not open this health care cost comparison resource. Additionally, health care spending among employees actually increased from an average $507 annually to $550 for the year. Average out-of-pocket spending among the control group increased from $490 to $520, which means those employees offered this resource actually increased spending $18 more than their peers.

It is difficult to isolate variables which caused employees to be disinterested in the cost calculator, and we can’t be sure why costs didn’t decrease among those who did open the resource. A study author notes that more than 50% of searches were for medical expenses of more than $1,000. This could be an important factor since many employees would be paying the same deductible rate regardless of their chosen health care provider in this instance. The motivation to choose less expensive services isn’t as strong when an insurance provider is the primary beneficiary of savings, not the patient.




Desai S, Hatfield LA, Hicks AL, Chernew ME, Mehrotra A. Association Between Availability of a Price Transparency Tool and Outpatient Spending. JAMA. 2016;315(17):1874-1881. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.4288.