Earnestine "Ernie" Daugherty greets people with a broad, welcoming smile and a friendly demeanor. Her outgoing and reassuring personality seems a perfect fit for her job as a health unit coordinator (H.U.C.) who greets patients and families as they arrive at a Surgical-Oncology unit at Froedtert Hospital, a member of the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health care network.
As a health unit coordinator, she greets patients as they are being admitted; informs families when their loved ones come out of surgery; relays information between staff members, patients and families; and takes direction from physicians, nurses and other staff on the ward.
Daugherty graduated from Milwaukee Area Technical College in 1988 from what is now called the Health Unit Coordinator Technical Diploma Program. After completing her clinical work at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, she applied for a full-time job at Froedtert Hospital. She was quickly hired and has worked there for nearly 26 years.
Lends Support to Patients, Families
"I really enjoy the job," Daugherty said. "I meet so many people. It's always something different. I feel for people who are sick or have loved ones in the hospital. I know it helps if someone can lend an encouraging word and let them know that someone cares. I like to be that person."
Before enrolling at MATC, Daugherty was a spot welder at Singer Controls, which later became Johnson Controls. She had always been interested in the medical field, so she began at MATC intending to become an operating room technician. She enjoyed learning medical terminology, but decided that she did not want to do hands-on medical work. A friend suggested she look into becoming a ward clerk, so she transferred into what was formerly the Ward Clerk Program.
She is proud of MATC's H.U.C. program, and often trains its graduates when they are hired at the hospital. "The program at MATC has been so wonderful for Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. We have hired such great MATC graduates. They come ready and raring to work and have great longevity in their jobs. That's what we like to see. When we get employees who have graduated from MATC's H.U.C. program, there is no doubt whatsoever that they are ready for the job."
Daughtery works in a Surgical-Oncology unit at Froedtert Hospital, a member of the
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health care network.
Ensures Viability of Program as Advisory Committee Member
Daugherty is influential in ensuring the quality of MATC's H.U.C. program. She has served on the program's advisory committee since 2003. All MATC programs have advisory committees comprised of graduates of the program, incumbent workers and employers who work in the respective fields. They help to ensure that each program is technologically current and responsive to employer needs.
Daugherty is one of 12 members of the H.U.C. advisory committee, which generally meets twice a year with the associate dean and the lead instructor. "We describe what's going on in the field, and it helps the MATC staff know what needs to be added and subtracted from the curriculum," she said. "I think it's really crucial that they get our feedback.
"We have recommended curriculum changes, we learn what percentage of people graduate, keep up with trends in student grades and how many students are enrolled. We keep an eye on statistics that show the benefits of the training in the program."
"We describe what's going on in the field, and it helps MATC staff know what
needs to be added and subtracted from the curriculum. I think it's really crucial that they get our feedback."
--Earnestine Daugherty, MATC Health Unit Coordinator Advisory Committee member
The H.U.C. advisory committee and the college are dealing with recent major changes to health unit coordinator jobs, Daugherty said. Due to a federal mandate for hospitals and health care organizations to move toward electronic record keeping, many procedures have changed and physicians are entering their own orders into computers. This has caused a shift in responsibilities for health unit coordinators as well as other employees. The curriculum is being studied to ensure that graduates are ready to take on new roles in their jobs, she said.
Over the years, the committee has made other recommendations, such as substituting a course in customer service for a psychology course.
Daugherty intends to retire in three or four years, but is quick to point out that she "is not done with MATC." She wants to study culinary arts after retirement and run her own catering business.
For more information on the Health Unit Coordinator Technical Diploma Program, visit:
Daugherty (in checkered jacket) participates in a
meeting of MATC's Health Unit Coordinator Advisory Committee.