Cancer care can be overwhelming. Just as stars guide travellers across unchartered waters, unit clerks often act as navigational guides for patients and their families. They provide a steady presence, offering information, support, and a sense of direction during times of uncertainty and turbulence. Health Unit Coordinators Day is August 23 and is a day to recognize and celebrate their contributions to cancer care.
Health unit coordinators are often the first point of contact for patients, families, and medical staff. They coordinate care with precision, dedication, and patience on even the most challenging days. At BC Cancer, unit clerks wear many hats. In any given day they can:
- Transcribe and process clinician orders.
- Organize diagnostic and therapeutic services for patients.
- Prepare and communicate instructions to patients.
- Gather patient information and prepare documents for clinical teams and patients.
Elyse Wellhauser is a unit clerk at BC Cancer – Victoria. She interprets radiation oncology electronic orders and schedules radiation treatments using specific software. She responds to complex and time-sensitive patient concerns with compassion and clarity. “I most enjoy the fulfillment I feel knowing I have played a role in the treatment implementation during a patient’s cancer care,” says Elyse.
"As a health unit coordinator we face different challenges daily and that allows us to gain more knowledge and helps us develop advanced problem-solving skills. At BC Cancer, another amazing part of our job is that we work as part of a team, I feel a sense of accomplishment when I see how my work contributes to the best interest of the patient," adds Manmeet Taggar, a unit clerk at BC Cancer – Surrey for 18 years.
Health unit coordinators also perform a variety of frontline duties such as greeting and registering patients and supporting wayfinding, answering the telephone/switchboard and responding in person by triage inquiries, relaying verbal and written messages.
“My proudest accomplishment is when patients appreciate my work,” says Vilma Campos, a unit clerk at BC Cancer – Vancouver. “Recently, I helped arrange a patient's appointments all together on the same week. This patient was coming from outside of Vancouver and needed to stay in a hotel close to the centre. As a result, the patient was very grateful to attend all her appointments within one visit and didn’t need to come back over several trips to Vancouver. Her doctor introduced me to the patient and the patient thanked me, she was happy with how I was able to help her.”
On August 23, join us in offering a heartfelt "thank you" to health unit coordinators for their vital contributions to patient care.