A hospital security officer is responsible for controlling access to a hospital and protecting the safety and well-being of its patients and staff. As is true in many other types of security jobs, a person in this position may undergo a training course and may then be licensed or certified to work in the area of private security. As hospitals can present complex security considerations, security officer in one can expect to confront numerous, and sometimes conflicting, security challenges while on the job. These challenges include maintaining an atmosphere that is calming to patients and welcoming to their families while also addressing situations in which emotions run high or where interlopers may enter the hospital in search of drugs or patient information.
Hospitals exist to provide care to those who are ill or injured. This means that many people who reside in hospitals are very vulnerable to exploitation, the theft of their belongings, or even violence. Hospitals also typically maintain large inventories of drugs, some of which may have significant street value. Hospital employees, likewise, are also vulnerable as targets of violence for both patients and family members alike. A hospital security officer is charged with maintaining the peace in a hospital and working to safeguard the people and items within its walls.
Typically, a hospital security officer will undergo a training program prior to assuming job duties. It is not unusual for him or her to have other experience in the areas of security or police work. For example, a security guard may also be a current or former police officer. The type of training program required to work hospital security will typically vary by jurisdiction and the standards of both the training course provider and the security officer's employer. A hospital may choose to hire its own security staff or may contract with an outside staffing agency to provide and manage a security team. Some jurisdictions require private security officers to be licensed through a government agency.
The actual duties of a hospital security officer will vary depending the hospital where the guard works as well as his or her experience level. Some areas of the hospital may be under more extreme security measures than others. For example, many hospitals take special security precautions in maternity wards so as to prevent the abduction of newborn infants. Areas of the hospital in which drugs or other types of expensive equipment are stored may also benefit from a stronger security presence.