Utah State Hospital Externship Report

Medical Office Administration

My three weeks externship at the Utah State Hospital was filled with a large amount of fun tasks and learning experiences. The places I worked in included the records office, the main administration office, two different secretaries’ offices on the hospital units, the treatment mall office, and in the Occupational Therapy unit, which I most poignantly enjoyed. Throughout my experience, I quickly learned the value of working as a team, as I observed the various professionals integrate their assignments, and take lead, where their field specialties took precedence. I also recognized the importance of the education they each had, and how it aided them in carrying out their work.

The first day of my externship, I was required to attend a HIPAA training, to be sure that I was accountable to the standards of HIPAA, through the training they offered. After the training, I immediately went to the Records Office, where I was instructed by the office manager, about their policies, procedures, filling system, and good office management, among other things. The next hour I toured the administration building, learning about all the different office roles it takes to run such a facility, and was introduced to each person working there. Finally I settled in to do some office work of my own. I started off by listening to a doctor’s own audio notes, as recorded, and transcribed then into a format of meeting minutes. This was fun. Before I ended the day, I was shown how to use a business copier/scanner, which is a must in any office setting.

My second day of training for my externship, was also rewarding. It started with attending a morning meeting with a Doctor, Sociologists, Nurses, a Nutritionist, Recreation Therapist, etc. I had the opportunity of introducing myself and my school, and did so in a professional manner. The meeting was very educational.

Each patient was reported on, and their written requests were taken into account, and addressed. The entire team, known as the treatment team, talked about possible solutions to problems, and ways to help motivate the patients in their recovery. The hospital has a system of privileges, which can be earned, if a patient’s treatment plan is followed. The goal is to prepare each patient for their transition of leaving the hospital, so that when they leave, they have a support system to return to, which will help them not relapse, and return.

After the meeting, I went to the Records Office, where I inserted loose files into patient charts, which had been pulled to present important information before a court and judge. I also learned how to use their filing system, which was a numerical system, different than any system I had learned in my schooling. I liked it! I also had the unique opportunity to retrieve microfilm files. I looked up patient charts on microfilm, and imaged them onto hard paper copies. This microfilm was created for patients who had been at the hospital, before other technology means had been adapted to store such archived information.

The microfilmed archived charts were needed because of a court subpoena, and needed to be available for the judge and lawyers. I also had the opportunity to learn about the structure and order of paperwork within the patient’s records, as I took the loose papers, and inserted them into the proper places.

As it turns out, the hospital has most of their patient charts on E-chart now, which is an electronic file, but there are some aspects of the patient charts which are still documented with paper.

On the third day of my externship, I moved over to the Mountain View Unit Office, where I put together family correspondence letters, to inform patient family members of the patient’s clinical meetings. I addressed the envelopes, and filled in the proper patient information on each letter. The patient clinicals are where the patient meets with their treatment team, supportive family members, and can work with them on their treatment goals.  Medications, needs, special concerns are addressed then.

That day, I also had the opportunity to distribute mail into the various mail slots of the staff on that particular unit. Later, I updated the face sheets of patient’s charts for a dozen patient charts by printing out new ones, and replacing the old ones. Later, I laminated and put together patient orientation packets, which patients receive upon admission, orienting them about the basics and requirements, as well as rewards systems.

My fourth day was spent preparing paperwork in the records office. I counted out and stapled together sections of information which were subpoenaed, and needed to go to court. In total there were over one thousand papers with notes, with an average of 150 papers per section. I also pulled out pages from patient charts, copied them, and added the copies to the subpoenaed paper work, according to each patient’s second, third, and fourth admission. Then I returned the pages, and their charts. This was probably the most repetitive day, but I still enjoyed it.

On the fifth day, I again attended morning meeting, and then observed how a clinical list is set up. I also observed how notifications to the patient’s liaisons was completed. I again prepared family correspondence for the patient’s clinical meetings, and after that, checked to see if all patient hospital admission forms were up to date. If they were not, I replaced them with the correct and newest version. I then delivered the outgoing mail from the unit, and picked up the incoming mail.

I attended another team meeting, then attended a patient’s clinical meeting, which was very fascinating. After this I spiral bound adult service manuals to be used in therapy groups.

The next place of work for me came at the treatment mall, which is a place where groups are held to offer patients help with motivation, skill learning, education about aspects of mental health, and life enrichment. I worked in the office area, where I called the units to find out why a patient had missed a group, and thus keep track of where they are, to and from their groups.

While there I also had the opportunity to organize many loose manuals, packets, and other miscellaneous items which were in need of filing and organizing. I also updated the call list for the office manager of the treatment mall, using Microsoft Word, and formatted it according to his desire.

I had the opportunity to take the roll responsibilities for the treatment mall, counting up all the numbers of individuals who attended, and came up with a percentage.

On my final day, I had the very special opportunity to find out what career path I would really like to take, and do for a living. This was when I worked in the Occupational Therapy Unit. The first thing they had me do, was organize their closet, in which having done so, I got to see a lot of what they are all about. They do crafts, games, activities, gardening, sports, community outings, etc., all for the purpose of benefiting the patients, through providing positive outlets and self- expression, as well as helping to give themselves an identity outside of their mental and emotional health challenges. This not only helps patients build self-confidence and esteem, but also allows them to explore hobbies and interests, increasing their mental and emotional health through therapeutic means.

I was so intrigued with the whole aspect and process of this, that it rang true to me, and I realized like never before, that this is what I want to do for a living. Although this will take some time and more education, I feel this a great opportunity to learn and grow even more in my ability to help people. I would be truly happy doing a job such as Occupational Therapy.

As I have had this experience of my externship, I have truly come to love other people with mental illness(es), and the people who work diligently to serve them. I have found the path I would like to take in assisting them, and what I would truly enjoy. This has been a very meaningful, rewarding, and eye opening experience for me, and one lesson I have learned from my schooling and externship, is that if you are willing to do what it takes to be successful, even though the prospects are arduous, go forward, and you will find that the doors of opportunity will open for you, as you are in the process of striving to be better.



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