RN filling in for receptionist, workflow.....anyone else?

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    I am a RN/BSN for 4 physicians at a pediatric practice. There are 2 receptionists and 2 nurses. I'd estimate that the nurses spend 8-10 or so hours a week sitting up front doing receptionist work and along with normal nursing tasks - vitals, vaccines, triaging phone calls, speaking with insurance, care coordination, etc. I've brought it to the attention of the physicians but since we are a small practice they want everyone to help out. I'm fine with doing receptionist work, but often end up really busy and behind in my own work or staying extra and not getting paid for it. Is it normal practice for nurses to fill in up front? Any one else experience this? What is the normal physician to receptionist, MA or nursing ratio? Thanks for any input.
  2. 5 Comments so far...

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    I hear you! I'm an RN working with 3 MAs (we're short one), 3 receptionists (we're short one), and 3 physicians (primary care, and...we're short one!). I was hired to do Triage, CQM, chronic disease management, and care coordination. If we were fully staffed, I'd hopefully be doing just that. However, with EMR and meaningful use, the MAs rooming patients really need an extra MA to help with injections, EKGs, etc. As it is, this falls to me. Now, I'm not saying I'm opposed to doing those things, however, if that's what's needed, why not hire an additional MA? As for spending time doing receptionist work -- not exactly a good use of RN skills and money. Until/unless this resource allocation thing gets worked out, we need to pitch in, but there's a line in the sand somewhere. And no, I'd say it's not normal to do receptionist work, unless there's an unusual situation
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    It would not bother me to fill in and do reception work but if it interferred with my own work load and not being paid for staying over when doing the extra duties I would have a problem with that. We have a nurse at work that fills in for reception weekly but she was reception before becoming a nurse and does not mind doing it. She also is not expected to be a receptionist and a nurse at the same time. When she is up front and gets a call from a patient, she hands it off to the clinical staff because that day she is reception and is focusing on those tasks only. I think this is the only way it could work without getting behing and causing confusion. We are not allowed to work over our 40 hours unless it is short staffed so there would be no way I would be working for free because they could not hire more staff!
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    I work at an urgent care center where we have 1 doctor each day, open 12 hours a day. We see average of maybe 20 or so patients a day which could go up to 40 depending on the season. So it's the doctor, me (RN), MA and billing person (up to 3PM). Me and MA (or any of other nurses and MA) would do everything from front to back. Basically, act as receptionist, nurse, and even do the charges for the patient's visit. The billing person would send the claims and call to collect balances. We all answer the phone whoever can get to it. Surprisingly, I love that I am able to do everything. The registration takes about 5 minutes. I swear we have the easiest system! That includes verifying insurance online. The MAs know how to give shots, do IVs and we even xray. Granted the duty lines are blurry but as a small, private place, it works well for us. We can get the patient in and out in 15 minutes. Sometimes instead of an MA, I work with an ER tech or paramedic and they prefer to do the back part (we all need to learn everything) because they type slow if they do registration so I just sit, look pretty and register patients. I help them of course if it gets busy but for them I'm doing them a favor for doing the registration part that they don't like so they let me relax (never at the extent of making patients wait of course). So I can't say I do not enjoy getting an RN salary for being a "receptionist" sometimes. It's kinda messed up if you think about it properly, right?

    I work at another urgent care where we see 40 pts in 12 hours and I only do the nursing duties (I am exhausted at the end of the shift!) so doing receptionist stuff is a good break from that.
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    Oh, just to add. We get paid if we stay over. We never have to stay longer to do receptionist stuff though. It's usually because patients come in late and we have to finish taking care of them. How is it that you don't get paid like that? I guess its different because we are a private placE?
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    Thanks for the replies! I don't mind helping out with reception work either - I like being busy. My main issue is when I end up sitting up front for a few hours or even an entire day, while doing vaccines/nebulizers/ht/wt/bp/urine samples/etc (we don't have a MA), triaging telephone calls and doing other paperwork (prior authorizations, school forms). It's really too much, but I didn't know if every office had the nurses push up to the front desk when a receptionist was gone or just ours. I also end up being the last person to leave because I'm finishing up notes and paperwork (I'm not a slow worker either).


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