Patient access leaders recommend looking for signs that applicants are kind, work well with others, and provide good customer service. Some approaches:

  • Don’t assume candidates are a good fit, even if they come highly recommended with good résumés.
  • Ask peers if they think they’ll get along with the candidate.
  • Get input from other departments that work with patient access.

A young woman spoke with obvious pride about how hard she had worked with her colleagues at a previous job, which paid $8 per hour.

“When I told her this would be a pay bump, she was surprised. She was pleasant from day one, and has been an asset ever since,” says Kimberly Horoski, MBA, MHA, department head of patient access at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in Patchogue, NY.

When Horoski interviewed a revenue analyst for an associate position, he arrived on time and was dressed nicely. The man made a great first impression until Horoski asked him why he was making the career change.

“He proceeded to talk endlessly about how he was destined to work with people, and how his wife tells him how special he is,” she recalls. “He was interested only in himself.”

It quickly became apparent that the applicant wasn’t a team player and, therefore, not a good fit for patient access.

Horoski watches for simple qualities when evaluating new hires.

“I tend to look for hard workers with good hearts,” she says. “This is something that is innate or learned well before the time I interview people.”

Antwan Williams, MHSA, director of operations of the emergency medicine service line at Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA, recalls a recent presentation at the hospital from the CEO of Delivering Happiness, a company that focuses on customer service culture. The presenter gave the example of front-line staff taking on titles such as “Director of First Impressions.”

“While we don’t use the titles, we believe our registrars are the directors of first impressions,” Williams says. “We need to be sure we are choosing the right people for these roles.”

One candidate came to Williams highly recommended by a colleague, with an equally impressive résumé.

“To be completely honest, we were ready to hire this individual even before speaking with them,” he recalls.

It turned out that the candidate did not agree with the mission and vision of the department.

“We as leaders should pause and take a step back so we can make clear decisions without bias,” Williams offers.

Mark Nugent, patient access services manager for the ED at Northwest Community Healthcare, pays more attention to candidates’ attitude and interpersonal skills than résumés.

“I want to see how candidates respond to weird questions, or when things don’t go their way,” he says.

Nugent likes to see candidates who keep their cool during a stressful interview. He often switches gears to ask questions completely unrelated to the job, such as, “What is your favorite TV show?” or “What is the last movie you went to see?”

“If the candidate can stay positive, no matter what is happening around him or her, then the odds are high that he or she can do this in the emergency department,” Nugent says.


  • Kimberly Horoski, MBA, MHA, Department Head of Patient Access, Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center, Patchogue, NY. Phone: (631) 654-7769. Fax: (631) 447-3082. Email: khoroski@bmhmc.org.
  • Antwan Williams, MHSA, Director of Operations, Emergency Medicine Service Line, Geisinger Health System, Danville, PA. Email: adwilliams@geisinger.edu.