It’s the first meeting of the day. A family brings in their six-month old baby and you welcome them into your office with a smile. You help them fill out intake paperwork and do an assessment with them to get an understanding of their life. You learn about the developmental delays their baby has, their financial and job situation, and discuss the goals they have for their child. You set up another meeting in a few days with the occupational therapist and physical therapist who will be key in helping their child start to progress. You continue to reassure them that you will help them get everything they need, from more diapers to all their appointments. That it’s your job as a health services coordinator.
Another health service coordinator meets with a patient and their family before they are discharged from the hospital. They help them understand the medications they’ll need to take when they get home, the physical therapy they’ll need to go to, and they help the patient set up the in-home nurse that will come once a week. They answer questions and set appointments for the family to ensure they have absolutely everything they need for a smooth transition and a healthy recovery. They meet with the doctors and the patient one last time before they leave, ensuring everything is lined up and accurate, and then send them on their way. The patient and their family are so relieved that everything is lined up and they don’t have to worry.
There are meetings with healthcare providers, service providers, third-party medical organizations, and patients. There is paperwork, assessments, follow-up reviews, and patient-centered care. This is all in a day’s work for a health services coordinator.
For a health service coordinator, all the work you do every day is focused on helping patients and their families get what they need. The healthcare world can be overwhelming and confusing, and a health service coordinator’s sole focus is coordinating efforts from different providers and services for patients. Health service coordinators are also supremely focused on patients getting what they want—not medical professionals dictating what needs to happen. They want to make sure the patient’s voice is heard when making decisions about their health and their life. This means they often meet with the patient to truly understand their wants and needs and then work with the healthcare team to communicate those wants and needs, and coordinate how it will be done.
Lindsay Gregory knows the ins and outs of a health service coordinator all too well. She worked in the health service coordination field for 12 years before becoming an instructor for the health service coordination program at WGU. Her career allowed her to work closely with young children and their families who had disabilities or developmental delays. She would coordinate the needs of the family, setting them up with WIC or resources for their living situation, as well as coordinating the services for the child, scheduling occupational therapy or speech therapy. Lindsay says it’s some of the most rewarding work in the world.
“It gives me chills just to think about it,” she said with a smile. “Some of our young children would transition out of our program early because they had progressed so much, they didn’t need us anymore. It was truly amazing to see.”
Lindsay says that helping patients and their families understand the healthcare they needed and then be able to communicate their own goals is key. Patient-centered care is the very heart of good health service coordination.
“Our main focus was making sure we were giving the child the services they need, and the family was able to have their input and opinion,” she said.
Having experienced professionals as faculty at WGU helps set the Bachelor of Science in Health Services Coordination program apart from other programs. Faculty members like Lindsay have actually done the work in the profession, so they are uniquely equipped to help students be prepared for the daily rigors and challenges of the job. They focus on evidence-based care, value-based practice, communication, leadership, and other areas that help students be prepared to thrive in their careers. Because the faculty knows what it’s like to work in the field, they know exactly what students need to succeed.
While a health services coordinator isn’t a case manager or social worker, their roles may be very similar. Health service coordinators can work in any medical facility, from a hospital to a nursing home, to a public health agency, and their job revolves around helping patients understand their care and working with all the medical professionals involved to coordinate that care. They make sure patients can connect the dots, have all the appointments and meetings they need, and help the patient maintain a plan that will help them meet their personal goals.
Health service coordination isn’t the same as nursing either. Nurses give treatments to patients, while health service coordinators help set up the treatment times, and work with patients to explain the processes. It’s being involved in healthcare without being directly involved with medically treating a patient.
If you’re passionate about helping others and interested in the healthcare field, a future in health service coordination could be a perfect fit for you. Lindsay says that while there are challenges that come with working in the medical field, for those that have the passion for it, a career in health service coordination is extremely rewarding. And earning the health service coordination degree at WGU is the perfect place to start.
“The experience that WGU brings is far beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before,” she added. Lindsay has worked in higher education before, along with pursuing her own bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. She says that WGU brings education to the table in such a unique way that has benefited so many students.
“You can have your work life, your family life, and still go to school. You don’t have a lot of those interruptions that you would with your traditional universities when you attend WGU,” she said.
Experienced faculty, completely online courses with no specific class-times, no assignment due-dates, all in a single degree program. It almost seems too good to be true, but it’s not. The B.S. Health Services Coordination degree at WGU is the perfect place to start an exciting, and truly rewarding career focused on helping patients and their families navigate the healthcare world.