Jen Steiger and her fellow patient service representatives, also known as PSRs, are the first faces patients see when they enter the diabetes and endocrinology clinic on the 6th floor of the Considine building. While their main job is checking patients in and out, their roles as front line staff are just as important to a patient’s experience – be it positive or negative – as the medical providers.
“When I first got out of school I never imagined working at a hospital because I thought you had to be a nurse or in some medically related field,” said Jen. “I came to learn that isn’t the case.”
In a twist of fate it was actually the hospital’s head honcho of hiring, Walt Schwoeble, vice president of Human Resources, who convinced Jen to apply for a job at Children’s.
“I worked as a customer service manager at Giant Eagle and he was a customer,” she said. “He suggested I attend a job fair the hospital was having.
“I was surprised to learn about the number of jobs that don’t require a degree in a medical field,” she added. “At Walt’s suggestion I applied for a visitor monitor position and that ended up being my first job at the hospital.”
After graduating from the University of Akron with a degree in business and human resources, Jen knew she wanted to broaden her horizons and get more exposure to the business functions of the hospital, leading her to apply for her current job. Anywhere from 35-65 patients cycle through the clinic daily and Jen greets them, updates their contact and insurance information, takes co-pays, offers school and work excuses, prints off ID bracelets and collects meters (for diabetic patients).
“I give the meter to the medical assistant so it can be downloaded before the doctor sees the patient,” she said. “Even though clinic visits are outpatient, we still require patients to wear an ID bracelet to make it easier for the nurses to scan for medications.”
When she’s not busy checking patients in and out, she’s printing off letters to send to patients and primary care providers, scanning patient information into the system and prepping files and paperwork for the next day. Jen is joined by 1 to 2 other PSRs on the front line and at least 2 more who do telephone scheduling. The department also has a dedicated nurse line for patients in need of immediate medical advice and a person who handles all insurance and billing issues.
Jen, who held down 2 jobs while a student, is enjoying the work-life balance her hospital job offers.
“I used to never have any free time, it’s a new concept for me” she said. “Now I have evenings free to meet up with friends or get a workout in.”
Jen and her fellow PSRs sometimes float to one of the other diabetes clinics located in Medina, Warren, Mahoning Valley, Twinsburg and Aultman. Usually they know ahead of time and are asked if they would be willing to go.
“When patient census is up, the demand for us is greater. When it’s down we adjust our staffing as necessary,” said Jen. “We’re all pretty cooperative and accommodating about helping out wherever necessary.”
The department’s huddle board lists the names of all of the department’s PSRs and when they will be taking their lunches to ensure constant office coverage. Jen does scheduling for the clinic’s 13 physicians, dietitians and nurse practitioners. The frequency of patient appointments is based on the recommendations of the providers.
“When patients finish their appointments we already know if that provider wants to see them again in 6 weeks or 6 months,” she said. “Probably the most stressful part of my job is when I can’t get patients an appointment at a time of day they want. I hate to disappoint anyone.”
In a pinch Jen answers the phones and helps direct the caller to the appropriate person, although it’s not a regular job duty. She also helps patients with wayfinding – directing them to radiology and the lab when needed. And, when patients are close to the age of 21 and aging out of pediatric care, Jen provides the family with a list of adult providers in the area.
She cites the office atmosphere, the people she works with and the job that she does as what she enjoys most about working at Akron Children’s.
“Everyone is so nice here,” she said. “I have no complaints – it’s a great place to be.”
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