Patient Safety Specialist

Whether you’re planning your career while still in high school or planning a mid-life career change, learning more about the different options that are out there is an important first step towards finding the job that works best for you. The medical field is one option that more and more people are taking advantage of, thanks to the numerous benefits it offers including great pay, good job stability, and more.

One job option within the medical field is a patient safety specialist. Instead of providing direct care for patients in a traditional nurse/doctor setting, you’ll be improving their health and well-being from behind the scenes. It’s a good job opportunity for those who don’t relish the bedside care angle of the medical field but who still want to help others while earning great pay. To learn more about becoming a patient safety specialist and what it involves, continue reading.

What Is a Patient Safety Specialist?

A patient safety specialist is just what it sounds like – a professional who focuses their attention on promoting the highest level of patient safety possible. These medical workers will handle the development of different safety programs and procedures that reduce errors and work to make sure that all patients in a medical facility get the kind of care that they deserve, and nothing less.

Potential duties for a patient safety specialist will vary greatly, but will likely include some of the following.

  •   Review all medical facility procedures for safety issues
  •   Develop and implement patient safety programs and protocols that allow for improved safety and wellbeing
  •   Identify risk areas and introduce different protocols and procedures that eliminate those risks
  •   Test safety knowledge of employees
  •   Develop training programs for employees that educate them on better health safety practices
  •   Attend lectures, seminars, and presentations that increase their understanding of patient safety
  •   Present educational lessons to employees
  •   Deliver reports to supervisors or department heads detailing ways to improve patient safety
  •   Ensure that all compliance and safety regulations are met to their fullest

In general, a patient safety specialist will handle a huge range of tasks and duties, all of which are designed to improve the level of care and the level of safety that patients receive while in a health facility.

Nature of the Work

The work will primarily be office based, where the patient safety specialist will spend their time reviewing information, developing new programs, and creating reports that help drive patient health and safety higher. This benefits not only patients, but medical facilities as well.

Along with office work, patient safety specialists will also attend conferences and seminars, and attend meetings within the facility they are employed in. They’ll also spend time making rounds through the medical facility, gathering information, and interviewing different employees to understand where safety can be improved.

Most patient safety specialists work for private facilities, but some may work on a consultant basis and ‘freelance’ their services out as needed. Others could work for government agencies and identify any safety regulation issues during an inspection of a facility. Obviously, the work is varied, but rewarding.

Education and Training

Those hoping to become a patient safety specialist will need to begin by earning at least a Bachelor’s Degree in a related field such as public health, nursing, or something similar. Taking additional courses to focus specialization on the area of patient safety is a good idea that will only serve to improve the odds of finding employment.

While education is important, it’s also vital that you earn on the job experience. Most employers prefer at least 4 years of experience working in the field before hiring one on as a patient safety specialist. This is because you’ll need to become familiar with practices, procedures, and more. Other requirements may be present, depending on the employer and the specific position applied for.

Salaries for a patient safety specialist average out to about $57,590 dollars, a figure that’s well above the national average. Some of the highest earning professionals in the field earn more than $75,000. Additionally, demand for these jobs is expected to increase by about 15 percent over the next several years, a rate that is in line with the national average. It’s a career with financial rewards, great job stability, and plenty of personal rewards.


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