August 7, 2017 at 11:46 am

Happy Beginnings | Psychology-Anthropology Alum Explains Work as Emergency Services Representative

Megan Cales outdoors with trees behiind her on the right

Megan Cales

Editor’s Note: The Happy Beginnings series features recent College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school and service.

Ohio University alum Megan Cales ’16 says that being an Emergency Services Representative involves three positions: intake, registration, and team coordinator.

Cales double majored in Psychology and Anthropology from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University in 2016 and is now an Emergency Services Representative in the Emergency Department at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (ranked No. 3 in the country).


The intake position is typically the first point of contact for patients checking into the Emergency Department. Cales collects the patient’s name, chief complaint, recent travel history, and medical consent from the guardian. If the guardian isn’t accompanying the patient, she calls them to receive medical consent. If the parent cannot be reached, the physician authorizes medical treatment. This is also where an interpreter is requested for the patient and his or her family, if needed. Most of the time, there is a Spanish interpreter on staff. If not, or if the patient’s language is not Spanish, a phone or video interpreter is used. The interpreter is a necessary resource to ensure patient safety and encourage non-English speaking/ESL families to seek out medical treatment.


The registration position involves visiting the patient and family in their room to verify that their demographic information is current, insurance is up to date, and collect signatures for HIPAA, medical consent, and financial responsibility. It is important to ensure that all chart information is accurate as it affects billing, prescription pick up, and documented medical history. Cales also completes rounds in this position, which involves visiting rooms every 60 minutes to provide comfort items (snacks, blankets) or relay information to medical staff. If requested by the doctor, she works with families to make medical appointments.

Patients aged 14 to 21 receive a Sexually Transmitted Infection health screening, which enables them to be tested at their request during their stay in the Emergency Department. Cales sees this as an important feature as it works to combat STIs in the adolescent population.

When a squad brings a patient to the hospital, Cales is responsible for checking in the patient.

Trauma Bay

The most intense feature of this job is the trauma bay. When a patient is brought into the trauma bay, it’s her duty to connect doctors with requested specialists and contact a transport team if the patient needs to be transferred to another hospital.

While every point of contact with a patient and family is important, Cales finds that this position provides the opportunity to make or break their personal experience while in the Emergency Department, as far as non-medical interactions go.

Team Coordinator

Her final position is that of team coordinator. An important feature of the team coordinator is connecting Emergency Department doctors with specialists and primary care providers. This enables them to collaborate and draw on other resources to provide patients with the most informed care possible presently and as they move forward. It involves ancient technology, such as pagers, landlines, and fax machines. As coordinator, Cales also discharges patients, contacts the transport team when a patient needs to be transferred to another facility, and assists in admitting patients to the hospital. While the coordinator does not directly interact with patients or families, it’s a crucial behind-the-scenes job.

As an ESR, Cales gains practical knowledge of the current climate of adolescent mental health. Concerned guardians and/or patients may come to the ED in seek of mental health care.

“While first on the job,” Cales says, “I was shocked at how frequently this occurs.”

Some patients that receive care here end up being admitted to a mental health treatment facility. During their time in the ED, they spend an ample amount of time with our social work team. As a former psychology student and future social work student, Cales greatly value the experience that she receives in this domain.

“When I first began, I found myself feeling overwhelmed as I hadn’t yet experienced so many sick children! Over time, I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve learned that children and their families are strong, capable, and resilient, and that, chances are, everything will turn out okay.

“It’s taught me to relax, that the sky isn’t always falling.”

Diverse Population

The campus where Cales works serves a diverse population in the southwest Ohio area (and sometimes, beyond). Sitting at the I-75 corridor, it enables patients from the surrounding rural, suburban, and urban communities to easily access this location.

“This is valuable to me as I find it important to serve communities that typically have limited access to health care such as rural, low socio-economic status, and immigrant populations.”

Cales feels strongly about protecting Medicaid, as over 45% of her patients rely on it, which means 133,000 children. She has contacted members of Congress via phone and email regarding this issue and encourages others to do the same.

How OHIO Prepared Her

During her experience at Ohio University, Cales volunteered at My Sister’s Place, the local domestic violence shelter, and worked in a PACE position at the Psychology and Social Work Clinic.

She says the latter has been her most applicable OHIO experience in her role as an Emergency Services Representative. It prepared her to work with children and families during potentially vulnerable and uncertain times. It also prepared her to work in a HIPAA secure environment.

Dr. Chantel Weisenmuller, has been an invaluable mentor for Cales both during her time in Athens and in her current role. Weisenmuller has answered Cales’ many questions and served as a reference for her application.

She adds that her anthropology background taught her about cultural competence in serving families from diverse backgrounds.

“I think incredibly highly of Cincinnati Children’s as a leader in medical treatment and research. I am honored to be a part of the team here!”

Cales returns to OHIO this fall to pursue a Master of Social Work while working as a research assistant.

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