This week’s spotlight is on Jennifer Mansourian, an OT who now works as Clinical Integration Informaticist for UCLA Health!
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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?
Jennifer Mansourian, OT — Clinical Integration Informaticist, UCLA Health
Where are you located?
Los Angeles, CA
Where did you go to OT school, and what year did you graduate?
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
I did my fieldwork II at UCLA acute rehab, and continued there after I graduated. Then, I transferred over to the acute care hospital and was there for about 11 years until I transitioned into my non-clinical role.
In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?
Neuro acute rehab unit with primarily neuro patients. In acute care, I specialized in trauma, cardiac, neuro, and oncology.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
I enjoyed the high acuity of the hospital I was at, as it enabled me to learn a lot and practice my skills. My department and manager were also very supportive, and I had a lot of autonomy.
Our productivity requirements were reasonable, and that enabled me to properly treat my patients and continue to enjoy my job for many years.
However, I didn’t enjoy the lack of upward mobility opportunities and all of the protocols that we had to navigate in a big hospital system.
What else have you done since then, prior to your current role?
I have worked in home health and had private patients. Shortly before I transitioned, I was also promoted to Clinical Fieldwork Coordinator for the hospital system, which made my role 50% clinical and 50% administrative.
When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?
I thought about transitioning to a non-clinical role about five years ago; however, I was expanding my family and needed the flexibility that my job provided. Once I was settled at home, I started to crave more challenge and responsibility and I quickly realized that my department did not have a lot of opportunities for that, and promotional opportunities were few and far between.
When I was passed for a promotion that I felt I very much deserved, I became more serious in my efforts to transition. My main driving forces were my desire for upward mobility, doing something that I would enjoy, and being challenged so that I could learn new skills and grow. I also knew that as I get older I will not be able to continue with patient care due to the physical nature of acute care.
What are you doing these days?
I am working full time as a clinical integration informaticist for UCLA Health’s IT Department (specifically, for the Unified Communications team).
My team is responsible for specific applications that clinicians use, such as the communication and messaging apps, the phones that the nurses use, and cardiac waveform apps. Our ultimate goal is to integrate our multiple communication and alerting systems into one system to improve workflow.
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
I am solely non-clinical.
How long have you been in your current role?
I started at the beginning of February, 2023.
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
I started a coding bootcamp and took some LinkedIn Learning courses to explore my options and to show that I was actively trying to upskill when I applied for jobs. But I did not take anything or need anything specifically in order to get this role.
Once I was ready to apply for this position, I bought The Non-Clinical PT’s Implementation Specialist Bundle to update my resume and prepare for the interview. This was very helpful and made me feel more confident going into the interview.
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How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?
A nurse I worked with for a long time transitioned into healthcare IT, so I reached out to him and asked a lot of questions about his transition path, how long it took, and what he tried before he successfully transitioned.
From there, I kept networking and seeking out people on specific teams that were of interest to me. I then asked to volunteer on projects they were deploying, which enabled me to meet many more people on the IT side, including many of my current teammates. They had the opportunity to work with me so they knew my name when I was interviewing for the position. Showing them that I was someone they might want to work with in the future was very beneficial to me landing the position.
Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?
I updated my resume to highlight any technical experience I had and also significantly tailored it to match the job posting. I used the Non-Clinical PT’s course materials to help with wording and highlighting my transferrable skills. I found this extremely helpful because it opened my eyes as to how many skills I had that would be valuable in so many other fields.
What was the interview like for the role?
There were four interviews total: one screening, one with the whole team, one with the manager, and one with the director. Each was about 45 minutes long.
I spent my prep time looking at common interview questions and coming up with examples of scenarios that would address those types of questions.
What are some of the things you did to stand out, take initiative, and advance in your career?
I volunteered to help with a project, connected with key people, and then for a year and a half, I continued to keep in touch with those people. I expressed interest, offered help, and let them know what my goals were. They knew that I was ready and willing to do whatever I needed to get there.
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
My colleagues are very excited for me, and it has opened their minds to the non-clinical opportunities that are available to therapists.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?
My days are flexible and different because we are always working on multiple projects at the same time. Some days are very busy when we are preparing to deploy a project, some days are low key and I am just catching up on administrative things, and some days all our applications are going haywire and we are putting out fires all day.
I have a lot of Zoom meetings since we are all remote, so some days I am sitting on back-to-back calls for most of the day. A lot of my job feels very similar to project management, making sure that multiple teams are completing their tasks so that the project can continue as planned. I also troubleshoot with end users who run into problems with the apps that we control.
What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?
The biggest reward is being 100% remote and the flexibility that comes with it. I am able to be mobile if I need to and work from my phone if I need to be away from my desk.
I’d say that the biggest challenge is learning all the new things I have to know, since it is 100% different than my previous role. And things change constantly, so I am learning something new that is also evolving. It can also be challenging to work primarily via Zoom, as it can get tiring to be on calls all day.
How did your clinical background prepare you for this role? Which skills transferred?
I feel that I had so many great skills going into this job that carried over in some way:
- Interpersonal skills
- Project management, because each patient was essentially a project that I had to facilitate from beginning to end
- Conflict management, since I’ve worked with many different teams and personalities
- Being proactive
- Anticipating needs that I had while treating patients
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?
I work full time, but my days are much less stressful and a lot more flexible.
I have control over my time, and don’t feel as pressured to meet a “productivity” standard. I still have to complete my tasks on time and sometimes I have to spend extra time to get them done, but not every day.
I get paid more in my new role, and also get a yearly bonus and a higher yearly raise.
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
Someone who is detail-oriented, has great written and verbal communication skills, is highly independent and self-driven, is great at team work and collaboration, and is able to work in a fast paced environment.
Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?
Yes, there are PTs, OTs, SLPs, and RTs that have transitioned over to the healthcare IT side of the hospital. Epic analyst has been the primary position due to similar pay.
What is a typical career path for someone in a clinical informaticist role?
The possibilities are endless on the IT side. I can continue to get promoted to supervisor and work towards being a manager. I can upskill and transition laterally to many other departments such as informatics training, adoption and engagement, and implementation. I can upskill my technical abilities and become a systems analyst. Or, I can transition into a project management role.
What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?
I like to be an individual contributor right now and will plan to stay like this for at least five years. Then, I will explore leadership opportunities so I can become a department manager in the future.
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?
We are our own advocates. I know that we are qualified for so many roles that are unfortunately reserved for RNs, so we have to fight for visibility and the possibility of filling these roles. Our clinical background is just as valuable as that of other clinical professions.
So don’t be shy, put yourself out there, ask questions, connect with people who are usually happy and willing to help, and network, network, network!
I was confident in my skills, but I just needed someone to give me an opportunity. And now I am thriving in my new role.
What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?
I wish I had explored more career paths before choosing a clinical path with limited upward or outward opportunities. Now that I have worked in the hospital, I see that nursing offers so much more opportunity.
I do not regret becoming a clinician since I fulfilled my goal of helping others, but I should have researched more which path would have given me more future opportunities.
Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?
My path out was not simple or easy, and I had to put in a lot of thought, effort, and planning to get where I am today. So, if you want to also transition, just know that it’s rare that something just falls in your lap.
You have to make a goal and work towards it. Two years ago I set this goal, and today I am living it and I’m extremely happy with where this journey has taken me.