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After Betty Bopst, director of patient access at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD, finishes telling a patient access applicant the extent of the commitment that comes with the job, he or she sometimes tells her flat out, "This job is not for me."
"I respect them a lot for saying that," Bopst says. "They begin to understand the depth of what's required in this role. Then they consider their own skill set and recognize that it's not right for them."
The most important qualities in a registrar are the ones that can't be trained, such as the ability to make a worried patient feel comfortable and welcomed, according to Bopst. "You want someone who just really loves to deal with the public, even under trying or chaotic circumstances," she says.
When Bopst meets a prospective registrar, "I know that they either have it, or they don't." She looks for individuals who can make a patient feel as if they are genuinely interested in helping them through the process, instead of just another registration that has to be completed. "After you hire someone, you don't want to later say, 'Hey, what happened? You're not the person I interviewed,'" says Bopst. "I have been dead wrong before, but not often in all these years."
Bopst evaluates customer service of applicants with these methods:
She listens closely and observes the person's body language.
Anyone might be a bit nervous during a job interview, but Bopst says she likes to see that applicants appear fairly comfortable with her during the interview.
She isn't guided only by the applicant's resume.
"Someone may look great on paper but may not be cut out for this job," says Bopst.
While she values experience, Bopst says "the biggest thing is the personality." She says she would rather have a recent high school graduate with a great attitude than a registrar with many years of experience and a poor attitude.
She gives a scenario and asks the applicant what he or she would do.
"I believe that when I ask them this, what they tell me is really close to the same way they would handle it with an actual patient," Bopst says.
She often asks applicants what they'd do if they were trying their hardest to help the patient, and he or she still refused to give information because they'd already given it to others multiple times. "I listen for their voice raising in any kind of anger," says Bopst. "In our role, we have to be assertive at times, but never aggressive. When someone is very upset, you still need to help them."
Bopst says that a good response to this scenario would be, "I really need this information so that we can locate your records and ensure we have everything correct so we can move on to your treatment area."
On the other hand, if the applicant reacts defensively, by giving a long list of excuses or their own complaints, this is a red flag for Bopst. "I always tell staff, 'Nobody cares about your rules.' They don't need to know that you are short staffed or if you've worked a double shift," she says. "You keep all of that completely to yourself."