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Healthcare Professional Interview

Medical Records and Health Information Technician

Maritza Sinclair
Medical Records and Health Information Technician,
Lead Medical Records Technician,
Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

1. I chose this career because...

I chose to become a medical records technician because I found the right position that made use
of my interests and education. I was trained to be a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) as a member of the Army Reserves at Fort Totten, New York. Even though I completed the training, I was not sure about continuing my career as an LPN. The job was both fulfilling and frustrating. It was fulfilling, because I was in a position of caring for patients. It was frustrating because, as it is in many hospitals, the nursing staff was stretched thin, and we were assigned multiple patients. I felt that there was never enough time to make a connection with the patients. I preferred being able to have more one-on-one interactions with my patients to provide better care.

Because my husband is on active duty in the Army, we have traveled and moved around a lot. That added another frustration I had with the nursing career. With each move to another state, you have to also change your license to practice in that state. When we moved to this area, I sent out a lot of applications for jobs in the Federal Government. I wanted to find something in the medical field that was more administrative and behind the scenes. I lucked out when I was accepted into my current position. Initially, I was hired on a part-time basis. Within six months, I was working full-time. At first, I had to learn the Terminal Digital Order, which is the system for numbering our patient records. I learned the system quickly, and it is one of those things – like riding a bike – that you never forget.

2. My typical workday involves...

My typical workday revolves around my responsibilities of maintaining, delivering, and tracking patient records.

My tasks include:

  • Pulling patient records – In the morning, I ensure that the list of patient records (what we call the pull list) are pulled and ready for delivery to the appropriate clinic.
  • Staff reassignments – If one of our staff is out, I rearrange the schedule and make reassignments to cover that person's duties.
  • Collecting additional records – We send records from outside sources to the physician for review. Many patients at the NIH are referred from other clinical centers or hospitals. Typically those records will be requested or forwarded to our department. We pass them to the attending physician to make sure they have what they need and want. I am responsible for making sure that the records from outside sources get into their NIH patient record.
  • Retrieving records – Often in the afternoon, I go to clinics to retrieve files that were pulled earlier in the day.
  • Calculating monthly statistics – I prepare monthly statistics of all the records released to the clinics, including those requested for patient care and for research. All patient records are computerized and tracked by a software system.
My leadership responsibilities include:
  • Scheduling staff work hours
  • Assigning tasks to staff personnel
  • Training new personnel
  • Supervising - When my supervisor is out, I play her role for the day. She is the section head of the Medical Records department.

3. What I like best/least about my work...

What I like best about my work is knowing that we delivered the patient records to the institute clinics in a timely manner. I also like working with the NIH staff. There is never a dull moment.
After a while, you get to know the names and faces of the physicians for whom you have pulled
records. We often greet each other in the hallway. I was working here during my pregnancy with
my daughter. People remember that, and still inquire about how she is doing.

What I like least about my work is the feeling that there is never enough time in the workday to
get everything done. I always accomplish the day-to-day tasks that must be done. Responsibilities, like the monthly statistics, tend to sit on my desk longer than I would like.

4. My career goals are...

My career goals are to continue to enjoy my current position and keep things steady. With a young daughter now, I want to have less change and more stability.

Courtesy of National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Education

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