Ward Clerk

Ward Clerk at a Glance

Ward Clerk
  • Level of Patient Contact: Low
  • Starting Salary: $24,550 plus benefits
  • Length of Program: One-course certificate
  • Program Location: Multiple campuses, Fall and Spring semesters
  • Gain practical experience at local hospitals
  • Attendance to all class sessions is required
  • Classes fill quickly, register early!

More Information

After reviewing the information found on this page, students interested in the Ward Clerk program should direct questions to Coordinators' Assistant Candice Rodgers.

Career Overview

Job Description 

Ward Clerks (also called Health Unit Coordinators, Floor Secretaries or Administrative Assistants):

  • Perform clerical tasks at the nurses' station of a hospital
  • Answer telephones and communicate messages to appropriate parties
  • Answer patient and visitor inquiries
  • Transcribe physicians' orders onto medical records
  • Create patient records and record appropriate information

Performance Essentials

Students qualifying for enrollment must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations. Students are encouraged to meet with the Disability & Access Center to discuss potential issues associated with meeting these requirements.

Career Resources

The SWIC Career Activities and Employment Center offers a Career Mentor program, including job shadowing.

The National Association of Health Unit Coordinators website provides career and certification information.

Career Opportunities

Ward Clerks work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Rehabilitation centers

Career Outlook

Ward Clerks/Health Unit Coordinators jobs are expected to grow faster than average for all occupations based on the Occupational Outlook handbook.

Refer to the Occupational Information Network (O*Net), a resource center produced by the US Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration, for more information about ward clerks (Medical Records and Health Information Technicians (Receptionist). Ward clerks are who are also trained as a certified nurse assistant are frequently more likely to find employment.


Average Starting Salary

The average starting salary is $24,550 plus benefits.

Dual Training

Dual training as a Certified Nurse Assistant will frequently make a ward clerk more marketable.


Enrollment Requirements

Meet with a SWIC counselor

All students are advised to see a counselor and complete the New Student Information form for enrollment into the college and to identify their plan of study. 

Students wishing to enroll in the Ward Clerk course must:

  • Have a high school diploma or proof of GED
  • Be in good physical and emotional health
  • Be able to type
  • Have good interpersonal communication skills

Course Sequence

The Southwestern Illinois College Ward Clerk course, HRO 115, prepares students to perform the clerical, receptionist and coordination tasks of professional ward clerks.

Ward Clerk Certificate (025B)

The Ward Clerk certificate (025B) consists of a single course, HRO 115: Ward Clerk. This is a six-credit-hour course which consists of 4.5 lecture hours and 3 lab hours and can be completed in one semester.

This program provides the academic background and hands-on experience for students interested in a career as a ward clerk.

During this course, students will learn:

  • Medical terminology and accepted abbreviations
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Communication skills
  • Safety guidelines
  • Receptionist duties
  • How to transcribe physicians orders
  • Legal and ethical aspects of working in a health care facility

Clinical Education Experiences

Clinical education experience is a required component of this course. Clinical practice is completed in area hospitals and other health care facilities during the last four to five weeks of the course.

Program Overview

Program Capacity

Spring and Fall Classes

HRO 115: Ward Clerk classes are offered each fall and spring semester. Multiple sections of the course are offered and each section generally has room for 12 students. Refer to the current course schedule for location, dates and times.

Space is Limited

These classes fill quickly, so it is important to register as soon as possible. Program capacity is limited by clinical facility availability. Plan to enroll for fall semester courses in April and spring semester courses in November.

Program Location

HRO 115 Locations

HRO 115: Ward Clerk is offered at the SWIC Belleville and Sam Wolf Granite City campuses, as well as the East St. Louis Community College Center. Refer to the course schedule for course location, dates and times.

Clinical Experience Locations

Clinical experience will be provided in area hospitals and other health care facilities. Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from all clinical and classroom experience.

Program Cost

Ward Clerk Certificate

For details, see the Ward Clerk cost sheet.

Time Commitment

Sixteen-Week Format

HRO 115 is offered in the 16-week format with both classroom and clinical training. This course is offered during the fall and spring semesters at a variety of times and days of the week.


Students participating in the SWIC Ward Clerk program are subject to all provisions of the existing college catalog and course syllabus with respect to attendance during the period of their enrollment. Any missed time is cumulative and students are dropped if absentllowances are exceeded.


Students should check the location and schedule of classes to ensure their own availability and access. Students are responsible for their own transportation to classes and clinicals assigned by the program.

More Details

Additional Requirements

The following criteria are required of all enrolled students and will be explained in detail during class:

Background Check and Drug Screening:

Students enrolling in Health Sciences programs should be aware that some clinical facilities may require criminal background checks and drug screenings. If so, students will be provided with the appropriate information to complete background check and/or drug screening before beginning the clinical rotation. Students may be dropped from the program if they fail to obtain/pass the clinical requirements.

Medical Requirements:

Students must also meet any other requirements of the clinical sites, including health exam and immunizations.


Some clinical facilities may require auto and/or health insurance. Malpractice insurance, when required, is provided by the college through assessment of lab fees.

New Students

New SWIC students are encouraged to complete the New Student Orientation.

Work Requirements

National Certification Examination

Upon successful completion of the Ward Clerk course, graduates earn a certificate and may elect to join the National Association of Health Unit Clerks and take a national certification exam.

Employment Requirements

Although it is not required to be certified to practice as a Ward Clerk, it is highly recommended as some employers require it. Pursuing national certification is the responsibility of the successful graduate.


For more information about this program, please contact:

Coordinators' Assistant Candice Rodgers

618-235-2700, ext. 5355

Enrollment Services Admissions Evaluators

ext. 5541 or 5542

Counseling Center

618-235-2700, ext. 5206