Every organization is formed with a purpose in mind, the vision. In order to achieve this purpose, positions within the organization must work toward attaining certain goals furthering the larger organizational vision, the mission. Those who administer these organizations must catalog and organize the requisite roles, tasks, duties, and responsibilities required to achieve the goals and vision of the organization. This process is called job analysis and results in position descriptions for each job required to facilitate the mission of the organization (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). Position descriptions serve as a framework to codify the chain of command, roles and responsibilities, and functional lists of duties to be performed (Fallon & McConnell, 2007). Position descriptions also help to determine the value and compensation requirements of each position (Fallon & McConnell, 2007).
Unfortunately, as Fallon and McConnell (2007) discuss, many organizations fail to create adequate position descriptions, putting the organizations at risk of possible litigation, or less severe, employee confusion and ultimate inefficient operations.
Taxonomy of a Position Description
Fallon and McConnell (2007) write adamantly that “job descriptions have a regular format, style, and language” (p. 119) and are a result of a vigorous job analyses. Fallon and McConnell outline the components of a valid position description: job title, FLSA status, a summary of duties, compensation (salary range), knowledge required to perform the job, particular skills required to perform the job, the level of physical, psychological, and emotional effort usually required to perform the job, responsibilities inherent in the position, typical working conditions, and other general statements describing the position. Position descriptions using this format and with a certain level of detail can also be helpful in evaluating employees already in the position.
Using this format, I will compare two similar health care position descriptions (Northwest EMS, 2007; U. S. Office of Personnel Management, 2012) and discuss their similarities and differences.
Comparing and Contrasting Position Descriptions
Northwest EMS: Paramedic
Northwest EMS, located in Tomball, Texas, is the municipal provider of emergency medical services. Either city or departmental human resources would have directed the analysis required to formulate the position description.
Strengths. This paramedic position description (Northwest EMS, 2007) clearly follows a similar outline as recommended by Fallon and McConnell (2007). Further, as this position requires particular licenses, certifications, and other qualifications, these are enumerated distinctly as minimum qualifications for the position.
The biggest strength of this position description, however, is the section which details very particular job requirements, both physical and non-physical, as they relate to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Weaknesses. This position description does not provide a salary range for the position. Although this could be a result of the document lying in the public domain and quickly becoming outdated, a salary range should be communicated openly for applicants to consider. This would benefit both the organization and the applicant, ensuring recruitment resources are expended only on applicants with a continued interest in the position.
National Park Service: Paramedic
This position is within the National Park Service at Yellowstone National Park. The position description would have been developed through position analysis by the U. S. Office of Personnel Management at the direction of the National Park Service.
Strengths. This paramedic position (U. S. Office of Personnel Management, 2012) also follows a similar outline as recommended by Fallon and McConnell (2007) and also provides that certain licenses, certifications, and other qualifications are required; however, as this is a federal position governed by separate and particular rules, there are particular components within the position description that are unique to federal government job postings.
One strength of this position description that notably differs with the Northwest EMS description is the inclusion of the salary range.
Weaknesses. No FLSA status is noted within the position description, but the FLSA might not apply to this federal position.
In analyzing similar position descriptions within municipal and federal organizations, there will be particular differences guided by the requisite employment rules and legislation for each; however, there are certain universal requirements for adequately describing the duties and responsibilities of each position, and it seems that both the Northwest EMS (2007) and National Park Service (U. S. Office of Personnel Management, 2012) position descriptions are, indeed, adequate representations of each paramedic job.
Fallon, L. F. & McConnell, C. R. (2007). Human resource management in health care: principles and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
Northwest EMS. (2007). Paramedic job description. Retrieved from http://www.nwems.org/ employment_Paramedic.pdf
U. S. Office of Personnel Management. (2012). Health technician (paramedic). Retrieved from http://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/307171500