What is the job description of a healthcare worker? This is a common question, especially for people who are interested in joining the healthcare field but have little to no knowledge of what working in it implies. In this article, we will talk about the most general healthcare worker job description, including what it means to be an “essential worker”, a term that has become very popular since the pandemic started. Plus, we will provide job descriptions for the most common types of healthcare worker roles in Canada. Keep reading!
A healthcare worker is a trained individual whose job description is focused primarily on providing care and health services to people who are sick and in need of treatment. They can work as doctors, nurses, or paramedics, but beyond these common roles, there are numerous other types of healthcare workers that are also highly influential within the field, such as personal support workers, laboratory technicians, pharmacists, dentists, sonographers, and many others.
It should be noted that some healthcare workers work in direct contact with patients and some of them don’t. This is the difference between frontline workers and other healthcare workers. Essential healthcare workers, on the other hand, fall under different criteria, as they are only considered "essential" when they deliver essential patient care and life-saving services. Good examples of these workers are nurses, physicians, care aides, pathologists, pharmacists, and others.
Regarding employment, healthcare workers are employed in a wide range of settings, such as nursing homes, hospitals, mental health facilities, primary care centers, dental clinics, and pharmacies; and their job descriptions are usually adapted to the common practices and needs of the patients that seek for health care in these different facilities.
According to multiple sources, there are approximately 60 million healthcare workers across the globe making a difference in people's lives. Their impact is so relevant that the World Health Organization (WHO) considers them as “the most valuable resource for health.”
In Canada, healthcare workers are split between regulated and unregulated.
Here are the most common healthcare worker job descriptions for the regulated category:
This is the general name given to medical doctors. Their job description indicates that what they do is diagnose and treat the diseases, physiological disorders, and injuries of patients in settings like hospitals and clinics. Some of their duties are examining patients, prescribing and administering medications and treatments, performing and assisting in routine surgeries, providing emergency care, and many others.
These healthcare workers provide direct nursing care to patients and oftentimes deliver health education programs. They are usually employed in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities, rehabilitation centres, doctors' offices, clinics, community agencies, companies, private homes, and public and private organizations or they may be self-employed. Some of their duties are assessing patients to identify appropriate nursing interventions, collaborating with other healthcare workers to coordinate and evaluate patient care, administering medications and treatments as prescribed by physicians, and more.
These healthcare workers provide oral care and hygiene to patients in a dental office. Their job description is primarily focused on treating minor oral health conditions, providing treatments like fluoride, and performing cleanings. They also assist the dentist with tasks like examining patients' mouths for any signs of disease or decay, updating patient records, and ensuring tools and workspaces are clean and well maintained.
Healthcare workers who specialize in dentistry help their patients maintain oral care through diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. Their job description focuses on a wide variety of procedures and functions on teeth, gums, and mouths in general. Some of these procedures are the detection and management of oral conditions, application of cosmetic dental techniques, and restoration and reconstruction of teeth when patients suffer accidents or tooth decay. They also correct crooked, crowded or poorly spaced teeth and misaligned jaws, perform oral surgery, and educate patients on how to prevent oral health problems.
People in this career are trained as nutrition professionals to assess the dietary and health needs of their patients and advise them on food and nutrition. They work in a variety of settings, including schools, long-term care facilities, hospitals, community health facilities, and corporate nutrition programs. Their job description tends to vary depending on where they work, but for the most part, dietitians focus on promoting good nutrition, educating the public on food and nutrition issues and topics, developing meal plans for patients, providing medical nutrition therapy in settings such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, among other duties.
These are healthcare workers who conduct a wide array of medical laboratory tests for the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases. Their job description includes duties like conducting analyses of blood, urine, and other body fluids, performing microscopic examinations of different types of tissue. They also conduct blood type and compatibility tests for transfusion purposes and are in charge of setting up, operating and maintain laboratory equipment, as well as quality control of testing techniques.
Radiographers and people who specialize in sonography are healthcare workers who take images of body parts like arms, legs, or the skull, using different technologies like x-ray imaging and ultrasonic imaging devices. Their work serves physicians to diagnose serious illnesses. As part of their job description, these specialists are responsible for the maintenance of their equipment and their patient records.
Healthcare workers in this career provide care to women during pregnancy and birth. They practice physical examinations, screening, and diagnostic tests to monitor the health of mother and baby and make referrals to medical specialists as required. Midwives' job description includes duties like managing labour and deliveries, monitoring the health of newborns, and referring infants to appropriate medical services as required, as well as providing mothers with advice and guidance regarding care for newborns and with topics like breastfeeding.
These healthcare workers help people who have personal problems that interfere with their ability to do everyday activities like getting dressed, eating, moving around the house, going to work or school, doing sports, gardening, or social activities. Their job description focuses on assessing their patient’s unique situations and applying their specialized knowledge and skills to recommend a course of preventive or corrective action that will help people lead more productive and satisfying lives, according to the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT).
In addition to these regulated healthcare worker roles, there are others such as Audiologists, Chiropractors, Opticians, Optometrists, Pharmacists, Pharmacy Technicians, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Psychologists, Psychotherapists, and Speech-Language Pathologists.
In the unregulated category, the most common role is that of Personal Support Workers, but Physician Assistants and Physiotherapy Assistants are also in this category.
These are healthcare workers who provide care to any person who requires personal assistance with activities of daily living (ADL). According to the Ontario PSW Association, they are typically involved in both personal care tasks and incidental activities of daily living such as housekeeping, meal preparation, socialization, and companionship. However, the role and responsibilities of the PSW have increased slightly, with growth occurring yearly to meet the demands of our vulnerable sector.
In closing, we hope these healthcare worker job descriptions have been informative and educational for you and probably encourage you or someone you know to pursue a career in this diverse field.
If you are, or know someone who is, a PSW, DSW, RN, RPN, or a healthcare worker in any way, you can sign up to Caring Support to start developing your career with the numerous employment opportunities we have available. Create your free account today.
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