UNIT SECRETARIES-- the good, and the not so good...

Nurses General Nursing


You are reading page 3 of UNIT SECRETARIES-- the good, and the not so good...

live4today, RN

5,099 Posts

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.
This isn't a ward secretary problem. This is a position just like every other position. There are nurses, doctors, aids, housekeepers etc. who are the exact same way. There are always the good and bad. I know 3 people specifically that I sometimes want to drive my car into a tree rather than to go into work with them. 1 is a WC and the other 2 are RN's. They all set the tone for the floor, just as everyone's attitude does.

I will say that yep I have worked as a ward clerk for 10 years before deciding that I really wanted to be a nurse. In response to this statement-"The majority I've worked with have had some degree of anger issues and were often control freaks-- Don't dare sit in her chair, touch her stuff, look at a chart while she's taking off orders, etc."

I'm sorry to hear that...I don't know where they hire your ward clerks from.

It goes like this, WC's get the brunt of attitude and hostility whether it is intentional or not. If you treat someone with disrespect and treat them as if they are beneath you you will get the same treatment in return. It is not so much of being a "control freak" but when you have 10 charts laying around with orders, people are popping in and out of your seat where you are currently entering orders, signing you out in the middle of you entries to get into the computer, yes that is upsetting. Especially when the next shift finds charts with orders on them that weren't taken off. The WC gets the blame. Being there, doing the job, yes I know it inside and out. And here's a surprise, I am educated, have 2 degrees as a matter of fact. So the next time you feel so inclined to rattle out orders into thin air expecting that the WC has heard you in the midst of tele monitors beeping, doctors asking for labs, families at the desk with questions, nurses wanting calls placed...just remember you are in a line of requests and they are trying to do there best to get it all done for you. It's not just you on the floor.

As a WC I possessed the ability to recognize and set priorities, I made the nurses aware of lab values and results that I came across, possible med errors etc. I would always recheck charts for orders to see if anything had been missed, a mojority of the doctors offered me jobs with their practices. I still have people telling me that I was the best one they ever worked with and want me to come back! They said they never had to worry that issues were not being taken care of because I knew how the floor ran, I knew what labs were indicitive of etc. Was that just a quality I had? Maybe, maybe not, but I see WC's who work the same as I that are treated horribly and my heart breaks for them. WC's work hard, just as hard as everyone else. And do they know the gossip?? You bet they do, the see dozens of people during their shift while they are at the desk, of course they hear a lot. Occupational hazard. You would know too if you were at the desk all shift also. And I do have to say, I know ALOT of nurses AND doctors who participate in gossip...

Long and short of it. Do nurses and doctors have to check their charts for orders and accuracy, of course. But if you walk away with it realize you may not have a WC who will look for it to transcribe the orders and they will get missed amongst the other events of the day. If you are sitting in the WC's seat...you slow progress down that much more. They do have to enter orders and answer phones, make calls some watch monitors etc. It is irritating-just as irritating as pharmacy not sending up meds, doctors monopolizing your time for ego's sake, families riding your back, etc. Asking for petty things like for a call to be placed to a DR while you are sitting smack dab in front of a phone for the next 15 minutes talking about personal issues, also hinders any kind of production. I find that if I say "Lisa, can you call central for me for blah, blah, blah." It gets done and respect is maintained. When I see people bark orders into the air expecting that they are being heard, a majority of things are missed, confused etc. Just address the person by name, make sure they hear you, do it politely as you would with anyone else and you will see results.

I think that a WC should be dressed according to policy, politically correct, knowledgable and a team player. If there are any decrepincies than it needs to be addressed. Just as with any other position. It is not exclusive. You should not feel you have to walk on eggshells while at work with anyone. Period.

I have been a backer of a more professional aura to the secretary position and am happy to say that now where I work if you take a 13 week course and a national exam successfully they will start a WC clerk at $14.50 /hr. Some are seething about it. I say too bad. A majority of WC's work hard with the misconception that they are unintelligent and uneducated. This may give more incentive to a more professional population to work as secretaries. This combined with a no tolerance for rudeness, laziness etc may help this be a more beneficial experience for all. I think we all know what it is like to work with people who do not know or care to follow the expectaions of their job descriptions.

Bottom line-Nurses are responsible for their patients, they shouldn't have to micromanage secretaires and aids to make sure everything is done. Nurses need to check charts, get into computers etc. That's why it is important that these people have medical backround, schooling or otherwise to understand the importance of why they are there. For patient care. Explaining procedures or labs/conditions doesn't hurt either. It just helps the person better grasp why things are done the way they are and why it is important that these things do in fact get done. I am sorry that some of you have been bullied, but that's unacceptable on any level. I find if you give respect you get it in return. On occasion when I have to work with this secretary or these nurses, I am not afraid to address the snide remarks or the attitude that comes across. 2 of them are on their way out anyway...it should make for a more pleasant experience for everyone.

Manderella.......I commend you for "telling it like it truly is" as a WC. :) I've personally witnessed everything you've posted in your post when on duty. You definitely know what WCs go through. I've never been a WC, but I have often felt their pain as I watched them do their work, or train beside them when starting a new job. I've seen them be treated rudely, and talked down to by doctors, nurses, patients, and visitors. It's a shame, too. :o Thank you for sharing your very honest thoughts. They are all true...so true. :cheers:


492 Posts

Specializes in Adult ICU/PICU/NICU.

I sure wouldn't want the unit clerk's job....its alot of work to keep a bunch of demanding hot headed nurses happy.

We have some great kids who work as unit clerks. Many of them are pre med or nursing majors....the good ones know what you want before you even ask for it. Several have gone on to become very good nurses, doctors,and allied health fields too. However...they never stay more than 5 years or so before the finish school and go onto bigger and better things.

prmenrs, RN

4,565 Posts

Specializes in NICU, Infection Control.

Just a friendly reminder to be respectful of our co-workers, no matter what their position is, even in posting about them. Some 'attitude' could carry back to work, and that would make everyone's job more difficult. Like ELKMN said, clerks can definitely set the tone of each and every work shift. It behooves us all to make their lives as pleasant as possible, lest they come back and bite us. Respect begets respect.

Ruby Vee, BSN

47 Articles; 14,024 Posts

Specializes in CCU, SICU, CVSICU, Precepting & Teaching.

i injured my knee several years ago, and worked as a usc (ward clerk) for awhile . . . the phones will drive you crazy! :o it's a hard job -- i much prefer being a nurse! that said, and in the interest of entertainment, i'll pass on a couple of ward clerk stories!


[color=#4b0082]jan was a ward clerk when i started a previous job. we all thought she was a little "off". she'd do things like announce over the intercom "stella, the funeral home is on line 3" and other sorts of stuff that visiting familes and other patients didn't necessarily need or want to hear. she had a breakdown of some sort one night . . . i was sitting in my patient's room with the dialysis nurse, taking a well-needed breather when for the first time in 10 hours the vs were all wnl and nothing was bleeding, spurting, leaking or otherwise requiring attention. jan came marching in and threw a chart at me (not even my patient's!). then she started screaming "ruby, i hate you. i've always hated you because you're such a godda**** bit**!" she went on to describe my mother's sexual proclivities, my father's ancestory and my own imagined immoral and illegal behavior. she was actually frothing at the mouth. the dialysis nurse and i were both absolutely stunned! we were trying to back her out of the room and away from the pateint when she took a swing at the dialysis nurse! about then the charge nurse, house supervisor and security showed up to take her away . . . . we always figured the job drove her crazy!


[color=#4b0082]but it was an rt who went postal on us . . . another story for another thread.


[color=#4b0082]then there was jane. jane was a lesbian activist, and was quite convinced that she was being discriminated against for her lifestyle. in truth, i'd say she was an object of fascination for her mouth! she used to sit at the front desk and describe her sexual practices to anyone who would listen. one night she came to work wearing a "lesbian pride" t-shirt. the supervisor sent her home to change into "something more appropriate". she came back an hour later wearing a shirt with a picture that at first glance looked like a giant pink orchid. if you stared at it for awhile, it became clear that it was a closeup of someone's vulva. jane's vulva, actually, complete with piercings. she was telling a couple of fascinated residents all about it when the nursing supervisor came by again. not a good day for jane. (or maybe jane thought it was . . . hard to know sometimes!)


[color=#4b0082]i've known a lot of secretaries over the years and most of them are good people, hardworking and knowlegeable. they're not so much fun to write about though.





suzy253, RN

3,815 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry/Med Surg.

Yep...the good ones are very good and in my experience, most of them are very good, helpful, friendly. Except for one cow we had on one particular floor; nice as could be to nurses, doctors, & evil to the students. Not helpful at all--just asking a question---!! One time I was checking the Kardex on my patient and she pulled the file right out from under my nose to use it. There were lots of complaints about this one particular unit secretary.

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