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Unit Clerk

Unit clerks perform a variety of reception, clerical and administrative tasks at nursing stations on the units or wards of hospitals and continuing care centres.

Also Known As

Administrative Support, Hospital Unit Clerk

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 1243: Medical Secretaries

2006 NOC-S

  • B213: Medical Secretaries

2011 NOC

  • 1243: Medical administrative assistants

2016 NOC

  • 1243: Medical administrative assistants

2021 NOC

  • 13112: Medical administrative assistants

2023 OaSIS

  • 13112.00: Medical administrative assistants
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Unit clerks are responsible for maintaining an orderly nursing station and assisting the healthcare team by:

  • Assembling standard forms for patient charts
  • Coordinating the flow of communication between health care professionals, departments, patients and families
  • Collecting required patient health information to process forms and documents
  • Completing admission and discharge documentation
  • Processing physicians’ orders by recording information on requisition forms, consent forms, chart forms and computerized systems
  • Processing medication, laboratory, diagnostic imaging, dietary and treatment orders
  • Liaising with other departments and external resources as required for patient care
  • Coordinating and scheduling patient tests and treatments with internal departments and external centres
  • Arranging for patient transportation and transfers
  • Contacting patients to advise them of admission, discharge and appointment dates
  • Greeting, screening and directing visitors, and distributing flowers, mail and packages
  • Answering the telephone, relaying messages and transferring calls
  • Performing other administrative and clerical functions, such as word processing and formatting, preparing staff schedules, updating patient census and room lists, filing documents and cards, and requisitioning office and medical supplies
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 05, 2021
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

Unit clerks generally work day and evening shifts in hospitals and other health care facilities. However, on some wards they may be required to work rotating shifts that include weekends and nights. They may work 4-, 8-, 10- or 12-hour shifts. Hours may change to reflect current health care delivery and staff utilization patterns.

Ongoing exposure to the emotional stress that illness or injury causes patients and their families can cause stress for unit clerks. They work in very busy environments, continually interacting with other people. Unit clerks may be exposed to infection and disease. They must observe proper hygiene and safety precautions.

Unit clerks are routinely required to lift items weighing up to 10 kilograms.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Medical Secretaries

2006 NOC: 1243

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in speaking with people to schedule and confirm medical appointments, to receive and communicate messages for medical staff and patients, and to interview patients


Interest in operating computers and other office equipment; may train other staff in procedures and in use of current software


Interest in compiling information to complete documents, case histories and insurance and other claim forms, to maintain confidential medical files and records, and to order supplies and maintain inventory; may supervise other staff

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Unit clerks need:

  • Emotional maturity
  • Critical thinking and problem solving skills
  • Attention to detail and accuracy
  • Organizational and time management skills
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, including fluency in medical terminology
  • Multitasking skills, with the ability to prioritize and adapt to changing schedules
  • Interpersonal skills, especially the ability to effectively manage difficult behaviours sometimes shown by people in distress
  • Computer skills using various health information management systems
  • The ability to work efficiently despite frequent interruptions
  • The ability to handle stress
  • The ability to maintain patient confidentiality
  • The ability to work as an integral member of the healthcare team, as well as work independently with little supervision
  • The ability to work shift work with varying schedules

They should enjoy working with people, operating computer and related equipment, and compiling information.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Medical administrative assistants

2016 NOC: 1243

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 128 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 31, 2023 and Jun 16, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Tasks: Enter and format electronically based medical reports and correspondence and prepare spreadsheets and documents for review
Tasks: Schedule and confirm appointments
Tasks: Determine and establish office procedures and routines
Tasks: Interview patients to obtain case histories
Tasks: Complete insurance and other claim forms
Tasks: Initiate and maintain confidential medical files and records
Tasks: Perform general clerical work, such as order supplies and maintain inventory
Tasks: Maintain filing system
Construction Specialization: Organized
Attention to detail
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 05, 2021
  • Minimum Education High school diploma

Employers generally prefer to hire applicants who have a high school diploma and a recognized unit clerk program. Such programs should include instruction in medical terminology and processing medical orders, and a practicum (work experience) component. Applicants with equivalent qualifications may be considered.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

ABES (Alberta Business and Educational Services) - Calgary
Academy of Learning - Calgary Central
Academy of Learning - Edmonton South
Academy of Learning - Edmonton West
Academy of Learning - Medicine Hat
Alberta Business & Health Institute
Alberta Business and Health Institute
Alberta Paramount College
Bredin College of Business and Health Care - Edmonton
Bredin College of Business and Health Care - Red Deer
Bredin College of Business and Health Care - Spruce Grove
Cambrooks College - Downtown Campus
Canadian Health & Business College
City College of Management
Global College of Business & Technology
Lethbridge College
MCG Career College - Calgary
MCG Career College - Cold Lake
MCG Career College - Red Deer
Medical Reception College 1 Ltd. - Calgary
Medical Reception College 1 Ltd. - Edmonton
Mount Royal University
NorQuest College
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 05, 2021
  • Certification Not Regulated

There is currently no provincial legislation regulating this occupation in Alberta.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Unit clerks work in:

  • Hospitals
  • Acute care facilities
  • Continuing care facilities
  • Rehabilitation institutions

Full-time job openings for unit clerks are sometimes filled by other hospital employees, such as part-time unit clerks or licensed practical nurses. Therefore, starting employment positions for unit clerks are typically part time or casual.

Applicants for employment are required to undergo a police security clearance and may be asked to complete a medical terminology exam or a keyboarding test.

In large organizations, experienced unit clerks may advance to clerical coordinator positions or move into other clerical and administrative support occupations.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 1243: Medical administrative assistants occupational group, 95.4% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 1243: Medical administrative assistants occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.8% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 132 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Depending on the work site, unit clerks may be represented by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), or the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA). For information about current collective agreements in the public and not-for-profit sectors, visit their websites.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Medical administrative assistants

2016 NOC: 1243
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 1243 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $17.55 $25.24 $23.04 $25.24
Overall $20.31 $29.87 $27.25 $29.37
Top $23.07 $34.94 $31.83 $34.86

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Clerical and Administrative Support
  • Health Care and Medical Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 05, 2021

Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) website:

Canadian Union of Public Employee (CUPE) website:

Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 05, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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