Member Blog: Health Unit Coordinator

A unit coordinator in healthcare is a vital member of the healthcare team who plays a key role in ensuring smooth operations within a specific unit, such as a doctor's office, hospital ward, or outpatient clinic. They handle a variety of administrative and clerical tasks, working behind the scenes to support the healthcare professionals and ensure patients receive efficient and timely care.

This blog is part of a series of profiles of different clinical health professions written by Health Professions Network members. These profiles are intended to give students and those looking at prospective careers in health care an accurate, professional perspective on different health care fields, specialties and careers. This blog was written by Patricia N. Rice, Executive Director of the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC).

Allied Health Professionals play an essential role in our healthcare system. Allied health professions promote optimum health, function, and the improvement of health-related quality of life. 

As a member of the Health Professions Network (HPN), the National Association of Health Unit  Coordinators (NAHUC) takes part in raising awareness about the important contributions allied health professionals make. Advocating for the investment in the future of the allied healthcare workforce is of utmost importance!

A health unit coordinator (H.U.C.) handles the day-to-day administrative duties of a single section of a medical office, hospital, or clinic. They are highly organized people who aid in communication, customer service, management of physician orders, and coordination of the health unit. The health unit coordinator is at the center of the activity of the unit workstation. The National Association of Health Unit Coordinators (NAHUC) is proud to assist H.U.C.’s as they strive for excellence in the profession by offering certification and continuing education. 

NAUHC Survey

In an effort to get to know our members better, NAHUC recently initiated a survey. Health unit coordinators were asked about their work-related rewards and joys, challenges and frustrations.

Having the opportunity to help people is a source of joy for the vast majority of health unit coordinators. Helping by assisting with grieving families, de-escalating tense situations, explaining policies and procedures, adhering to patient satisfaction initiatives, and advocating for families and visitors also creates a sense of joy for H.U.C.’s. Most found it rewarding to be the first point of contact and support for patients, families and co-workers and making a difference in the type of care received.

By far, the majority of H.U.C.’s find their reward in a job well done. Health unit coordinators strive to be supportive members of the healthcare team by maintaining a controlled and organized workstation, ensuring they have the right information at the right time for physicians, nurses, and other allied health professionals, and ensuring the unit has what it needs to continue providing quality patient care. Health unit coordinators take immense pride in knowing that their support makes their peers’ jobs easier.

In one health unit coordinator’s words,

“My joy comes from the trust from my team because they know that I am dependable and present to see that the unit’s, patients, and staff’s needs are met efficiently and in a timely manner. Also, utilizing opportunities to learn and grow professionally. I like when people are surprised that I know something that they did not expect me to know.”

NAHUC Survey, 2023

However, this element of surprise underscores a broader challenge faced by health unit coordinators. Many are attracted to the role for its indirect impact on patient care and have no intention of pursuing a clinical career. Unfortunately, some clinical staff may misinterpret this lack of interest in obtaining a clinical degree as a deficiency in ambition or ability on the part of the unit coordinator. This misunderstanding can influence perceptions of the unit coordinator role. The frustration intensifies when employers hire individuals without sufficient experience or training, or fail to grasp the certification standards that validate a health unit coordinator's knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Unit coordinators play a crucial role within the healthcare team and deserve recognition as such. Their distinct skill set and talents make them valuable contributors to the decision-making process. By participating in staff huddles, unit governance councils, and multi-disciplinary committees, health unit coordinators can offer valuable insights that enhance the quality of healthcare delivery. This level of involvement not only increases awareness of the unit coordinator's contributions but also enriches their understanding of various healthcare perspectives. Ultimately, the knowledge and experience of health unit coordinators serve as invaluable resources that benefit the entire healthcare system.

Despite the lack of acknowledgment, survey responses underscore the strong belief among health unit coordinators in the direct impact of their role on patient and family satisfaction, as well as their support for the healthcare team. Health unit coordinators articulated the rewards of their work, including "serving others and enhancing my leadership and communication skills," "providing assistance and acting as a support system for the staff," "maintaining a controlled and organized workstation," and "utilizing my skills to aid other professionals in their daily tasks."

Confident in their ability to streamline their team members' responsibilities, health unit coordinators ensure tasks are completed efficiently, allowing colleagues to devote more time to patient care. Despite occasional oversight or lack of encouragement, health unit coordinators remain dedicated to the well-being of patients, which is the core purpose of allied health. Recognizing the pivotal role they play, steps should be taken to acknowledge and appreciate these professionals who form the backbone of healthcare.

For more information the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators, please visit

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