This week’s spotlight is on Clarice Grote, a Medicare specialist & healthcare policy consultant, who is the Founder & CEO of Amplify OT! She’s also a Therapy Blogging 101 alumnus 🙂
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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?
Clarice Grote, MS, OTR/L – Founder & CEO of Amplify OT.
I’m an Occupational Therapist, Medicare Specialist, and Healthcare Policy Consultant!
What additional roles do you currently have?
I also serve as an American Occupational Therapy Political Action Committee (AOTPAC) ambassador for North Carolina and assist with advocacy efforts with the North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association (NCOTA).
Where are you located?
I’m in Durham, NC!
Where did you go to OT school, and what year did you graduate?
I went to Columbia University in New York City for my masters in OT and I graduated officially in 2018. I was technically part of the class of 2017 but the official papers came in 2018.
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
After graduating, I got my first job in home health as an OT. I worked for a contracting company which meant that I was seeing patients for up to 13 different agencies at any given time. I was in that job for 9 months. After home health, I worked in acute care for a 400+ bed hospital in Kansas City, MO for 2.5 years.
As for unpaid jobs, I applied for and was appointed as the Advocacy and Policy Coordinator for the Home and Community Health Special Interest Section (HCHSIS) for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), which I did for three years. Additionally, I served on the advocacy committee and later as the Director of Practice for the Missouri Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA).
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
It’s only been a few years since I graduated, so pretty much everything I’ve done I consider ‘early.’
I really loved seeing patients in the home, and I feel that home health is the ultimate place to provide OT services because we are truly able to see the whole picture of that individual’s health and social circumstances. I hated all the driving and some of the restrictions (or what I thought were restrictions) due to the payment model.
Acute care is and probably always will be my favorite setting. I really enjoyed seeing something different each day. The cardiovascular ICU and tele floors were my favorite. It was so fast-paced and variable which I really enjoyed. I also liked helping people navigate the healthcare system.
The pandemic really changed the job. We never really got the break many others did to adapt and cope with the changing world. I started feeling like a number and like I wasn’t valued, which led to burnout that could only be solved by taking a break. I was in a position where I loved my profession but didn’t like my job.
I am so glad I got involved in AOTA and my state association early! I gained a lot of knowledge, leadership experience, and opportunities. The only thing I’d change is that it would have been nice to get paid. 😉
When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?
I was fortunate to have an elective Level II Fieldwork (a 12-week internship essentially) with the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Federal Affairs Team. Heather Parsons was my supervisor/mentor and she is an amazing OT and lobbyist.
After working with them, it felt like something clicked and I realized how much I LOVED reading policy and figuring out how it impacts our profession. During my time, I put together a comprehensive report on Accountable Care Organizations and was given a lot of opportunities to write policy articles. I really enjoyed the whole process! So, when I figured out I could get paid to do things like that, I was sold.
What are you doing these days?
Amplify OT is my full time gig! Due to burnout and relocating to NC, I wanted to take a break from patient care work and so far I haven’t returned. So, I am a solopreneur running Amplify OT full time. Through Amplify OT I provide consulting services, contract work, and presentations on health policy and Medicare.
I live and breathe policy! Being a solopreneur means I do just about everything in my job. I’m the website designer, copyeditor, writer, social media person, podcast producer, etc.
My main goal is to help practitioners and students understand and engage in Medicare, health policy, quality, and advocacy. I am heavily focused on occupational therapy but I occasionally throw in some PT and SLP information too.
In addition to Amplify OT work, I have various contracts working on resources, CEUs, and articles which also keep me busy. Each day is different, which I like.
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
Solely non-clinical and working from home!
How long have you been in your current role?
I’ve been an OT for about 4.5 years and I’ve been working for Amplify OT full time since September of 2021.
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
Therapy Blogging 101 really helped me get things off the ground. Without that I’m not sure where my business would be (I’m a big fan). I’ve had a lot of support from mentors and I take just about every policy or advocacy course produced by AOTA or CMS.
How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?
Most of my projects come through word of mouth, social media, personal connections, and networking. Some have found me through my website when they look for OTs with certain specialty areas.
What are some of the things you did to stand out, take initiative, and advance in your career?
Although I didn’t really need to advance through a company, getting involved early and being curious helped me get to where I am this early in my career.
I also told everyone I met what I wanted to do! When I interviewed, I didn’t shy away from saying, “I want to work in policy or quality,” when they asked about my 5 year goal. Someone can’t help me achieve something if they don’t know I want it.
When did you start your business?
I started Amplify OT in October 2020 because I wanted a place to write under my name. I wrote a lot for AOTA and my state association, but as a result, I didn’t own any of the content. It was also an excellent way for me to put out information without big delays due to editing processes. I’ve wanted a job in policy ever since I was a student at AOTA, and I thought the website could serve as a portfolio of my knowledge and work. So, I took Meredith and Chanda’s Therapy Blogging 101 course and learned how to build a website.
Fast forward to spring of 2021, burnout started to set in, and we decided to move to North Carolina for a new adventure. It’s hard to be an OT in acute care remotely, so I had to leave my job when we moved in the fall of 2021. Fortunately, some projects came together, and I was able to start doing Amplify OT and consulting work full time.
Where did you get the idea for your business?
I wanted to do something for myself and start getting my name out there. My sister and husband helped me come up with the name Amplify OT. I never expected to be doing what I do now. If I see a need that is in my niche, I try and fill it. My business is always changing and I’ve definitely had some products that flopped. But, that’s life. Failing upward is the goal.
What is your business, and what types of products or services do you offer?
I consider myself a healthcare consultant and an OT Medicare Specialist. It’s the most concise name I’ve come up with that people understand. I produce at least one article and one podcast episode per month. I offer 1:1 consulting services, CEUs, guest lectures, webinars, and produce resources like my Adult Rehab Guide and OT Billing Guide.
A product I’m really excited about is my Mastering OT Policy and Medicare course! It is a 5 module course that covers everything I wish I knew years ago! The course covers health insurance information, Medicare reimbursement in all adult rehab settings, billing basics, and advocacy. I have both practitioners and OT programs using the course and it’s really exciting!
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
Most are supportive. I think some don’t really understand what I do, which is nothing new for an OT! I do occasionally have someone tell me that I can’t understand the life of a practitioner if I’m not practicing, but I disagree with that. Maybe someday I’ll do some PRN work here or there, but we shall see.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?
I generally work Monday through Friday. I used to work all the time, but that’s improving. I’ve had to learn to set boundaries working from home and working for myself. My day is filled with various activities from email, marketing, social media, writing, producing content, and fulfilling jobs for my contracts. I do a lot of Google searching and reading about Medicare policies. I also keep a close eye on social media pages and AOTA’s CommunOT to see what people are asking about and what gaps need to be filled.
What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?
I love having freedom over my time. I don’t have to ask someone for time off work or call in sick. It’s given me more freedom to travel and see family for the holidays. It’s also great to be able to work from wherever.
The biggest challenge is setting boundaries. It is tempting to pull up my email on the weekend or “just get a couple things done” on Sunday. It was also hard adjusting to the flexibility.
As a therapist, I’d always been told when to show up, when to eat, what charts to see, and when to go home. Working for myself got rid of all of my structure. So I’ve had to find ways to structure my time and be productive, and it is still a process I’m figuring out.
How did your clinical background prepare you for this role? Which skills transferred?
I use the core skills I have as an occupational therapist every single day. My job is all about task analysis, problem-solving, and goal development. I also take a lot of the experiences I had as a therapist to tell stories that make policy easier to understand. Policy is inherently gray and vague so it is easy to think “that doesn’t apply to me.” But… it does. And some changes can have huge implications on our jobs, our pay, and so much more.
So, I try and use my experience as a clinician to inform how I convey policy in a relatable way. Ever wonder why you have to focus on fall reduction? It’s not just good for the patient. It’s tied to reimbursement.
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?
Hours are obviously way different but I have a lot more flexibility. So, some weeks I work 60 hours, and others I work 20. Just depends on what I’ve got going on. At first, I wasn’t making anything! But once some contracts came together I was making close to what I was full-time. My pay definitely fluctuates due to contracts, but I have a consistent enough income that we are able to budget. I am working to establish more consistent revenue streams so I’m not so reliant on contract work.
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
To work in policy and advocacy, you need to be detail oriented and be comfortable getting things wrong. Because it is vague, it is easy to misinterpret. Having good searching abilities is also really important. It seems simple, but identifying the right regulation you need can be a big challenge, so understanding what keywords to use can be really helpful.
Being an entrepreneur requires a lot of self-discipline, reflection, and motivation. It’s crucial that when you start a business, you go in understanding that you may make money but won’t be profitable for a few years. You also have to get used to failing. A lot!
It is a lot of work that can be discouraging and isolating at times, so finding a community to support you is important.
Do you work remotely or onsite?
I am fully remote with occasional travel for conferences or speaking engagements.
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
I made a big investment by taking Marie Forleo’s B-School and that has helped me get my business in order and develop a cohesive plan. So, I use her resources pretty religiously. I also listen to OTs Get Paid and am part of a few entrepreneur groups on Facebook.
Starting a mastermind has also been amazing. It’s nothing fancy, but a few OT entrepreneur friends and I get together each month to discuss our business and goals. It’s been really helpful to have a consistent community of support.
For policy and advocacy, I’ve read a few health policy books on the ACA and the history of Medicare. But, mostly I rely on AOTA, other consultants/experts, and CMS for resources. I also listen to NPR Politics, Health Affairs Podcasts, What the Health from Kaiser Health News, and Medicare Meet-Up. Whenever I get asked questions, I research the answer and that’s how I learn new things. Building a network of people to learn from is my best piece of advice.
What is a typical career path for someone in your role?
There are so many options when it comes to consulting, policy, quality, or advocacy. So, your career can take any path. Networking is really important. But, my biggest piece of advice is to pick a topic you’re interested in and lean in. Search for opportunities to get involved and meet people working in that space. You never know who you’ll meet.
What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?
My current plan is to keep on trucking! I really enjoy working for myself, and I hope to do that for a while. I’ve been working on my next big project, which is a five-week Reimbursement Course for OTs, OTAs, and students. I ran the beta in July and launched the most recent cohort in October. In the future, I hope to expand this course to more OT programs, practitioners, and maybe even businesses. We always have this idea that we will learn policy and billing on the job, but I have yet to see comprehensive education on these topics in any job I’ve been at. When therapy practitioners have such a big impact on reimbursement, learning accurate information is essential for the clinicians, the businesses, and the patients.
It is hard to advocate for your job, your patients, and yourself if you don’t understand how our healthcare system works. I don’t want clinicians to continue to feel frustrated and like their clinical judgment doesn’t matter because of a misunderstanding of Medicare or other policies.
My big-time lofty goal? Maybe someday I’ll be high-up working for HHS or CMS.
What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours? Do you have any special words of wisdom for the readers?
Keep putting yourself out there! You deserve to be at the table. So stop waiting for an invitation.
What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?
I’d love to see the value of occupational therapy be more recognized. Part of that is learning how to talk the same language as individuals making policy and decisions about what services to provide. I hope to show people they can be an advocate for the profession every day through simple acts like being an awesome practitioner. Advocating for change is all about that pressure over time.
What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?
I’d focus on tying reimbursement into practice. It’s great to know how to treat certain conditions, but it’s better to get paid to treat those conditions. Understanding how reimbursement impacts our practice is somewhat a unique problem to the US.