“Just the clerk”…. NOT!


For the last 5 years I have been the Admin Clerk II/Office Assistant I/Office Assistant II (a couple reclasses there) otherwise known as clerical support staff member, of the Division of Senior & Disabilities Services Quality Assurance Unit which has gone through a couple name changes too and is now Provider Certification & Compliance. In 5 years I have seen a number of people come and go along with retire. I have had several bosses and now a couple different supervisors too.

While my job title says “just a clerk,” I am far more than clerical support. I trouble shoot computer hardware questions such as “Why did my keyboard quit? Can you fix it?”, “What is going on with the printer? Can you fix it?” to software issues such as “Where did the setting for ____go? I really need to know where it went!” or “Why did it just do ______?” or “Do you know how to make Excel/Word/Outlook/DS3 Database do _____?” My standard answer is always “Sure I can likely fix that, give me a minute.”

I answer those kinds of questions along with “Can you fix this mechanical pencil?”, “Do you happen to have any ________ in your supply stash?” I also deal with our providers questions having to do with their certification applications, “How long will it take to be certified?”, “What forms do I need?”, “New Regulations? New forms? When are those going to be available?”

Beyond simple questions however, are the more complex issues. Such as the reports generated weekly telling the staff which providers have not turned in paperwork on time. How many applications we have in the unit and whose office they are in. Alternatively, how many applications we can expect and which months will busiest so we can plan on how to keep the stress levels down by sharing the load.

Other things I have done include setting up the system in Excel and entering the Critical Incident reports until IT could build a database. The spreadsheet not only tracked critical data points but also was robust enough to provide statistical data for Senior Management to use in reports for the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS aka the Federal Gov).

Over time holes in tracking data or management’s wishes of tracking certain data sets has led to my Friday Brainstorms. One such brainstorm sparked a long-term project I am still involved in related to a hidden group of contract providers and tracking who they serve on the recipient side. It required working with the Database Administrators to identify all the data points we wanted to track and then a way to connect the contractors with the certified providers.

Another long-term project that has borne fruit just recently has to do with the Archiving and Off site Storage of Open and Closed Provider files. It required working with managers all over the division to change the File Plan and then have it approved with the Commissioner. Once approved it has required database updates which are finally complete and finally the training of a volunteer to do data entry of several thousand files in 30++ boxes of data. This data entry project is ongoing but the big portion of the project is complete and is about to move on to the next phase for which I am designing the procedures and instructions for.

Up until recently, I also was doing a pre-screening of every application that came in… some months this was 20 but most it was 40-60 applications. This processing required not only date stamping but database entry, quickly screening to ensure all required forms and pages were present and notification of the provider of what was missing. It also in the case of new providers required record creation, setup of a Background Check Account via collaboration with the BCU and notes of what was completed and the location of whom the application had moved. This required I become familiar with the regulations and the unique requirements of multiple applications and 15 service types.

Just last week the new regulations for our most popular Medicaid Waiver Services were signed into law. To get to that point took the team 3 years of writing and designing of new forms, decisions regarding what the requirements should be and why we needed or did not need certain items. As a team, we held more than a few meetings to discuss each item in detail and interpret each requirement in as many different ways as possible. Ultimately, we now have a functional set of regulations, Conditions of Participation, and a new set of application forms that will hopefully be easier to complete for the providers and faster to process for the Certification staff.

As you can see I am not “just a clerk” as I do many more things that setup files, maintain files, and send out mail. I have higher level functions that could be considered out of my current job class and I also have the education to do many more things that just the little bit mentioned here.

What do you want in a career?

Skill Chart

What would you want in a career? What kind of workplace are you interested in joining? Interesting topics to ask for in a cover letter. Recently the first question was asked in a job posting for an Office Manager as part of a short cover letter. I had a nice reply but feel that there is more to me than what a “short cover letter” can explain. In fact, this is a great question to ask someone looking for a job.


Personally, I’m looking for a cooperative team of individuals who know what their functions are but are basically cross trained to do it all if a team member is out for a day or on vacation for a while. A team that communicates and helps each other out and shares the skills they have so that everyone can do everything, perhaps not as well as the specialist but at least passable in a pinch. A sharing of skills, giving and taking and supporting each other all while keeping the office or business running smoothly.

I’m looking for a team that brainstorms, considers and chooses a decisive approach to a problem instead of languishing and procrastinating on the issue until it has to have a forced decision “right NOW”. A proactive approach to a problem. Under a corrective action, a new process is formed and data by the ton is collected… that’s a great thing but what are we going to do with the data, how will we control it’s collection, what will happen when we outgrow the system we’re using to collect it? I watched my current team go through this process over the last couple years. I’d asked the questions at the start of the process, then watched management go through the painful process of implementing new systems and reports on the fly to satisfy the requirements placed on them by external regulators. Asking the hard questions and planning for the future is an important concept. Spending a lot of time on it early on, not necessarily a good idea but having a brainstorming session that can be reviewed in the future for ideas is a good one. A proactive workplace!

Learning and Improvement

Continuous learning, new industries, new skills, new markets. I love learning a new skill or just about something. It doesn’t matter if it’s relevant at that moment you can’t tell when a off the wall comment or discussion from your past will come back and knowing something will be of great use to someone else. Learn something new everyday.


The basics are also important, financial security, living wage, health care, retirement plans, thank yous, bonuses, raises, vacation and the like are all important but it’s the people that make a workplace somewhere you enjoy working. To take a line from a former supervisor, “Do what you do well, AND enjoy!

12 ways to make people SMILE!

There are many things that can be done to improve a person’s day. These are only a few.

  1. Thank random people in uniform for their service to society. You may end up making a new friend or learning something about the world from someone with firsthand experience.Did you know it snowed in Afghanistan and the trucks freeze shut requiring our troops to chip ice off the hard way… no ice scrapers! Said vet learned that rubbing alcohol will melt ice easier and help them get into their trucks faster!)

Another time I stopped a police officer coming out of the court house in downtown and thanked them. I got a seriously confused officer who questioned “Thank you for what?” “Protecting the people” there were tears in his eyes and a smile, no one had stopped him and simply thanked him for doing what he does for a living like that. I got the feeling he’d just come out of a bad court room case and really needed the pick up!

  1. Keep fun treats in your office that are to share. Licorice, lemon drops, M&M’s, peanuts, are all great items to keep handy…It’s fun to watch a boss act like a little kid when they see there’s a favored treat available… Their guard goes down just for a second and they are very human about it which for me gives a glimpse of the real person not just the professional I know.
  2. Teach your children to entertain themselves by making faces at other drivers when stopped at red lights. My kids did this to a police officer just as the light turned green… she had trouble driving through the intersection she was laughing so hard!
  3. Send a funny e-card to various people in your address book
  4. Leave a random small treat on a co-worker’s desk in a random “run by chocolating” or “run by treating”. My co-workers do this to me because I do it to them!
  5. Compliment your boss on something you really like about their supervisory style
  6. Compliment someone’s outfit or a part of their outfit
  7. Buy treats at lunch and then offer one to the clerk you just bought them from
  8. Give the commuter bus driver a break when you know he’s been on the road for a couple hours and needs a bathroom run and there’s time before you have to take off. It doesn’t take much to keep a head count and open the doors for other passengers and they LOVE the opportunity to stretch!
  9. Take a plate of goodies from a work potluck to the receptionist who didn’t get to go OR go down and give her a quick break so she can go!
  10. Take a random coffee run with co-workers and then pay for a co-worker’s treat despite protests. I have a couple people I go for a random coffee run with and it’s funny to watch a boss protest when those they supervise treat them to a coffee and get the response “you can have your turn the next time I’m in need of a coffee run like this” we all take turns spoiling each other.
  11. Bring home a random but unique goodie to your significant other. I found some cherry flavored jelly beans just before Valentine’s Day by a brand I’d never heard of and they turned out to be super good. I only got one bag and when I went back for more they were all gone!


  • Contact Me

    All image on this site are ©2019 Sue Darby.

    Photographs are taken by Sue Darby please ask for permission and link to this site if you wish to use one.

  • Contact Me