A hospital bed, an ambulance, or a rescue helicopter are stressful places to be, even when the patient can move and control their senses. But many times it is not the case, and someone has to move them from one bed to another, from a taxi to their room, or from their room to an operating theater, or from their bed to a stretcher or wheelchair, so someone can eventually move them to the right place within the hospital complex.

Patient transporters, sometimes also called Hospital transporters, are responsible for such tasks. It is not an easy job, and you need to be physically strong, but at the same time you can find a meaningful purpose in your work, accompanying the patients in the most difficult moments of their hospital stay, because transports, examinations and especially surgeries are extremely stressful for everyone.

To get the job you will always have to pass an interview. The hiring managers will ask you a couple of basic question about your job choice, motivation, and physical & mental strength, plus a couple of questions about your attitude to certain situations that can happen in this job, such a patient being in an extreme distress, or even you witnessing death as a part of the job. Let’s have a look at 7 common questions for hospital transporter applicants, one by one.

 

Why do you want to work as a patient transporter?

You can definitely refer to the meaningful purpose you see in this work. Sure enough, hospital transporters do not conduct surgeries, or administer vaccines, or examine the patients. But the hospital is one big organism, and every employee plays their role on an eventual recovery of the patient. Someone has to move the patients around, making sure they are in the right place at the right time, or the rest of the staff (doctors, nurses, medical assistants, and so on) won’t be able to perform their job.

And you see yourself a good fit for the position. You are physically strong, mentally resilient, and you always wanted to work in healthcare. You weren’t lucky to earn a degree, your life simply took a different direction, but you still want to participate, and a position of a patient transporter is a job that allows you to do so. Of course, if you had this job before (working part time, or even volunteering in a hospital or some other healthcare facility), you can mention it, because it is a plus (though not a must).

 

Punctuality is a crucial quality of each good hospital transporter. How do you make sure to be always on time?

Ensure them that you are aware of the responsibility you will carry on your shoulders. You understand that everyone is busy and schedule is packed in each hospital, and you cannot afford arriving ten minutes late with a patient to the examination or surgery. Hence you will always try to keep some reserve. I mean, you never know what can happen in the room of the patient–maybe they aren’t ready, will ask you to take them to the toilet first, or you will struggle getting them from their bed to wheelchair, and may even need to call someone to assist you.

Hence you will try to always be at the departure place a few minutes earlier, to keep things under control. Once you have them already on the wheelchair or stretcher, and know where you are going, delays should not occur. Proper planning and responsible attitude is the key, and you want to stick to them each day in your work. You can also refer to your former jobs–if you had any, ensuring the interviewers that you have never struggled with meeting deadlines or arriving on time.

 

You may witness a lot of distress in your job, or even someone dying in front of your eyes. How do you plan to cope with this emotionally?

You should be realistic about the job, and ready to admit some weaknesses. You can say them that without a doubt it will touch you. You are a human being with emotions, and you care for the well-being of others, so seeing someone struggling badly or even dying in front of you will leave some mark on your feelings and emotions. However, you have your remedies, and are confident that you will be able to cope with that emotionally.

You can talk about the support of fellow staff members. All of you will witness the same things, and you can definitely encourage each other, or hug each other to show emotional support. Consulting the psychologist once in a while isn’t a bad idea either. You can even say that one gets at least partially used to it over time (just ask the gravediggers), because at the end of the day both birth and death belong to life, and even the very best surgeon or the very best hospital won’t save everyone.

Do you consider yourself physically fit for the job? What about lifting someone heavy from their bed? Are you up to it?

Confidence is the most important thing to show. You do not have to be muscular to succeed in this interview, and handle the job. It is all about utilizing modern equipment (lifts, electrically adjustable beds), as well as laws of Physics such as leverage, to make sure you manage to move the patient from place A to place B, from example from their bed to wheelchair.

Of course if you devote yourself to any activity which promotes physical fitness and strength, be it swimming, cycling, weightlifting, you can mention it here. Last but not least, some patients will be so heavy that even the guys who compete in Strongman competitions wouldn’t be able to move them on their own. You are a team player, and definitely won’t find it embarrassing or intimidating to ask one of your colleagues for help, if the patient is particularly heavy, or if you struggle with moving them for some other reason.

 

How long do you want to have this job? Where do you see yourself in three years from now?

Just like any other organizations, hospitals do not want to hire people who will leave them in a couple of months, when a better offer rings their mailbox. And if you really see a meaningful purpose in this job, and want to work in a hospital environment, you won’t change it for a better paid job in a warehouse, for example.

Ensure the hiring managers that you can see yourself having the job for a foreseeable future. You’ve read the job description carefully, know what you will be supposed to do on a daily basis, and look forward to do it for months and years. Of course nobody knows what the future has in store for them. Just look at the recent pandemic as a prime example… So, you see yourself working as a patient transporter in three years time, unless something unexpected happens in your life, and you’ll have to change your course.

 

Imagine that you come to transport a patient from their room to an operation theater. They are incredibly frightened and do not want to leave their bed. What will you do?

Try to present them a meaningful system of steps. First step is trying to calm the patient down. You may tell them that it is normal to be afraid, and that you sympathize with them. But you’ve taken many patients to similar procedures from their rooms, and all of them returned back, and everything will be all right at the end for sure. What’s more, they will be anesthetized, so they won’t feel anything and do not have to be afraid of experiencing pain. If the person is religious, you may even pray together, if you think it may help them calm down.

If this doesn’t work, however, and you don’t succeed to talk them into cooperation, you may suggest giving them some sedative (administered by someone who has an authorization to sedate them), to help them overcome their fear and cooperate with you. Remember that a hospital is not a prison. You cannot and shouldn’t chain the person, or move them with force. It is important to keep this on your mind while answering the questions.

 

How do you feel about working on weekends, or holidays?

One of the drawbacks of working in a hospital (on any position) are the night shifts, weekends shifts, working on Christmas, and so on. At the end of the day, illness and death does not follow our calendar. It can strike at any time.

Ensure the hiring managers that you are aware of a necessity to take some shifts on weekends, holidays, or even at Christmas. But with having the right values and attitude to your work, and seeing the meaningful purpose in what you do, you do not see it as a big issue. What’s more, you understand that such shifts will be distributed evenly, and you won’t have to work every Sunday. Some weekends you’ll be at home, and some weekends you’ll be working, so your colleagues can enjoy nice time with their friends and families. Without a doubt they will pay you back the favor next time around…

May also help you succeed in your hospital transporter interview:

Matthew Chulaw
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