The Scope of Practice of a Healthcare Assistant

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When I think of the scope of practice a lot comes to mind. I have always been strict when it comes to following policy and procedures and never step out of my scope of practice. For the simple fact that all my jobs were dealing with customers and I think is very important to have standards. Having standards avoid conflict of information and an unhappy customer. Since starting the hospital unit clerk program scope of practice got even more important and meaningful to me as a professional, because now I am not only dealing with a customer, but a patient client and people lives.

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The scope of practice is defined as “working within the parameters of the duties and responsibilities outlined by one’s professional training and skills set”. As a HUC we have a vital role when it comes to managing information, knowing the policies and procedures of the unit and keep client confidentiality. Throughout this program, we were thought how important stay within our scope of practice. Many times, I have reflected on the subject and tried to understand how significant this role is for the flow of a unit and the safety of a client.

According to the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC), a HUC is:

Required to be prepared through education and training for the responsibility I provided non-direct patient care and non-clinical services.

Standards should be written and reviewed, as well as describe the scope and conduct of non-clinical service provided by HUC.

HUC must take all measures to assure quality on non-direct, non-clinical patient care, as well as maintaining a professional and ethical conduct.

Client privacy, security and confidentially would be the most valuable information and I was really interested because of some of the things I have never thought about it. For example, how “confidentially can be complicated by cultural expectations”. In a multicultural country like Canada people’s expectations about loved one’s information when they are ill can be extremely different making it very challenging. Since I started the Hospital Unit Clerk Program and I learned more about the scope of practice, I am much more aware and careful at my job as administrative assistant at a homeowner’s association with all members’ confidentiality.

At first, I didn’t realize the dimensions and impact on people lives the role as HUC have. I was lost and almost gave up on this program and I didn’t think it was for me. I was terrified of the responsibility and being so involved in someone healthcare. Time went by, I learn more and I realized things and I started to understand better the role and techniques to accomplish duties as a HUC.

For me, a scope of practice is to follow policy and procedures, as well as keeping within a set of skills you have been trained on it. The most important duty in my opinion, when it comes to the scope of practice would be when transcribing and processing medical orders. Your mistake can kill someone, so making sure you are following the rules, paying attention to detail and being 100% accurate is more than necessary.

When it comes to knowing and working within your scope, it is important to also know how to say no to people asking you to act outside of your scope of practice especially superior. The scope exists for multiple reasons and it is safety, security and protection not only of the client as well as yours as professional. If you are not qualified or trained to perform a duty you have the right to say no and you should say no. Back on my Business Communication class, I did a project based on the scope of practice and I used an interesting article taken from the BBC News from England titled 'Untrained' healthcare assistants 'put patients at risk'. This article brought up situations in England where I was shocked, for example, after BBC interviewed some of the HCA (healthcare assistants) and they were told to “act up" to perform roles designated for doctors and nurses”. This can impact everybody involves, the client, family, workplace, unit, departments, agency, you are professional. As a client, you expect the best service and as a HUC you should make sure your client is getting the best professional to take care of them and the best service.

I believe in make sure I know all the policies, procedures for the unit I am going to work for, and that I am trained and comfortable with my duties. If I am not 100% sure I will make sure someone can explain to me or give me extra training until I get comfortable. Ask a question, there are no dumb questions, I rather ask a question and look silly than mess up someone’s treatment, surgery, even worse be responsible for someone dying. Having a step by step on how to do medical orders and read over and over to make sure I understand before doing actions. Make sure I double and triple check my work especially when it comes to transcribing. I think those are going to be essential for me process medical orders and transcription accurately.

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