A surgery scheduler coordinates appointments for operating rooms to streamline the delivery of services and prioritize cases appropriately. The job includes interacting with patients and surgical teams as well as handling customer service activities like answering phones in some facilities. A high school diploma is usually required to work in this field, and some hospitals may prefer people with experience in the medical field. In lieu of experience, formal training in medical terminology and administration through a community college or technical school can be helpful.
Software is commonly used to help hospitals manage their operating room space. The surgery scheduler books specific operating rooms, following the facility’s protocol, and makes sure personnel know where they are scheduled. This includes fully staffing rooms with full timers or relief personnel as appropriate. Last minute changes may be necessary in emergencies, when surgeries run over, and in other situations, in which case the scheduler needs to act quickly to resolve the issue and get procedures back on track.
Surgery schedulers can provide information to patients about when to arrive and how to prepare. They may also collect deposits or insurance information so they can request a preauthorization letter. This ensures that the procedure is paid for or the patient is aware of the obligation before the surgery. A surgery scheduler can also handle billing, which may require familiarity with coding systems used to describe different procedures in a standardized fashion.
It may be necessary to coordinate with other offices in a hospital. The surgery scheduler needs to know that recovery beds will be available for patients after their surgeries, for example, and that wards will have space for them if they need to stay hospitalized. This can require working with hospital bed management staff to reserve spaces and move patients around if necessary. In an emergency situation where numerous trauma cases enter a hospital, the surgery scheduler would work with the emergency department to triage and assign cases by urgency.
Working schedules can vary. In some facilities, actual operating hours are limited and a surgery schedule may not be needed late at night because personnel can coordinate if a late night case comes in. Other facilities require staff to work late to manage operating room flow and handle emergencies. It may be possible to work several different shifts, and some workplaces create flexible hours for personnel to accommodate further professional training or other needs.