Give staff members opportunity to move up
Advancing gives feeling of forward progression
Asheville, NC-based Mission Health doesn’t use traditional career ladders in its patient access departments, but that doesn’t mean there is no opportunity for employees to advance.
"We offer positions within the department that allow staff forward progression in their careers, through promotions to positions of greater responsibility," says Eliana Owens, executive director of patient access and coding.
Employees are given the chance to move up to various positions in registration, scheduling, pre-registration, and financial counseling. Vacant positions are published on Mission Health’s new career site and are discussed in team huddles.
"Staff can set the system up to notify them when positions in a particular job family become available," says Owens.
Vacancies are also discussed in team huddles.
Traditional career ladders are better-suited for smaller hospitals where patient access employees perform multiple roles, says Owens. "It is not always cost-effective at our smaller hospitals to have individuals who specialize in one aspect of patient access functions," she explains.
Higher volumes at larger hospitals, such as Mission Health, require patient access staff members to perform specific functions such as scheduling, pre-registration, registration, or financial counseling.
"We often accomplish the staffing of these positions through promotional opportunities, versus the traditional career ladder model that may not support a defined number of positions in each role," says Owens.
Several of Mission Health’s patient access employees recently were promoted from entry-level positions to financial counselor or supervisors. Shortly after Lee Anna Mull started as an insurance verification representative in 2001, her managers encouraged her to take leadership classes offered by human resources.
"I found that I loved the challenge of always learning something new, whether it be a new daily duty or insurance regulation," says Mull. She was given the opportunity to cross-train throughout patient access, and she moved up to be a patient access coordinator before being promoted to patient access manager.
"Those opportunities made me realize the more I knew, the more I loved my job, and the more I wanted to grow within it," says Mull, who is working to obtain an associate degree in medical office administration.
Many employees who are promoted to a manager role choose to continue their education at the college level.
"They have shown a willingness to learn different aspects of patient access," says Owens. "Some have taken positions that were a lateral move, so that they can learn various roles."
The minimum requirements for the positions are differentiated by years of experience. For example, the patient registration representative role requires one year of prior experience, compared to two years experience for the scheduling coordinator role.
"There are also preferred skills associated with each specific role, such as medical terminology and prior scheduling experience for the scheduling coordinator," says Owens.
The opportunity to move up increases staff morale, reports Owen. "We have a very low turnover rate, which I’m sure can somewhat be attributed to the opportunities for upward career movement," she says.
- Lee Anna Mull, Patient Access Manager, Mission Hospitals, Asheville, NC. Phone: (828) 213-1617. Fax: (828) 274-6895. Email: Lee.Mull@msj.org.
- Eliana Owens, MPH, RHIA, Executive Director, Patient Access and Coding, Mission Health, Asheville, NC. Phone: (828) 213-0219. Fax: (828) 213-0763. Email: Eliana.Owens@msj.org.