Clinical Review Coordinator — Jill G. Sutton

Clinical Review Coordinator — Jill G. Sutton

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Save 40% on Unlimited Medbridge CEUs with promo code TNCPT!
Save 40% on Unlimited Medbridge CEUs with promo code TNCPT!

This week’s spotlight is on Jill G. Sutton, PT, DPT, a Non-Clinical 101 graduate who is now Clinical Review Coordinator for Optum!

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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?

Jill G. Sutton, PT, DPT — Clinical Review Coordinator for Optum

Optum logo

Where are you located?

Charlotte, NC.

Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?

I attended University of St. Augustine, San Marcos and graduated in 2010.

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What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?

I immediately went into travel therapy in various skilled nursing facilities for my first full year.

In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?

I worked in the skilled nursing facility (SNF) setting. I treated mainly older adults with a wide variety of diagnoses, ranging from post acute stay weakness, fractures, neurological conditions and more.

What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?

I absolutely loved meeting new therapists at the various locations I worked. I also have a love of travel, so exploring new areas of the country was very exciting. I’m not going to lie—after paying for PT school, the income was very nice as well.

What else have you done since then, prior to your current role?

After my year of travel therapy, I took a job at a hospital. I saw acute patients, worked in the outpatient department, and was the only pediatric therapist for both settings. After a few years, I worked strictly in outpatient therapy.

I ended my clinical career in home health, where I treated both pediatrics and adults. I worked in home health care for five years and took on various PRN outpatient and SNF roles as well.

When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?

In January 2020, new parameters went into place that severely limited the number of home health visits for therapists. I started applying to non-clinical roles, as the ‘pay per visit’ model in home health was no longer enough for me to cover my company benefits. I was also 22 weeks pregnant with my second child and ready for a change for our family.

What are you doing these days?

In addition to my 9-5 job as a clinical review coordinator, I am a content creator!!

I host a weekly podcast called Living Her Legacy. Its purpose is to empower mamas to live their legacy by providing powerful mindset shifts and practical tools to prioritize themselves, both personally and professionally. It is a mix of solo episodes and interviews with mamas from all walks of life who have been changed, challenged and motivated to be better since starting their family. I am always looking for guests!

I also have a lifestyle vlog YouTube channel called Josh and Jill On the Hill. The channel highlights living in the South and raising our family on some land, as well as family travel adventures.

I run a blog at that houses both the podcast and the YouTube channel. It’s a great way for me to connect with other mamas that have an entrepreneurial spirit and want to change their lives through an online business.

Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?

I am solely non-clinical. The only patients I treat now are my kids, husband, family and friends, free of charge.

How long have you been in your current role?

I started my non-clinical role at Optum in February 2021.

I created my blog in the summer of 2022, launched my podcast in January 2023, and my YouTube Channel in the spring of 2023!

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What do you wish you would’ve known before going into this role?

I wish I would’ve known how much I would enjoy working from home.

I wish I would have believed that being a physical therapist was not my identity but only my career at the time.

I wish I would have trusted myself more, knowing that I am a fast learner, adaptable and creative in so many more ways than just being a therapist.

I never in a million years would have thought I would be where I am today, and I feel like I am just getting started.

Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?

I took Non-Clinical 101 prior to my start at Optum. It really helped me open my mind to possibilities outside of clinical practice.

27 career paths, 50+ non-clinical resume and cover letter templates, LinkedIn and networking tips, interview and negotiation strategies, and guided insights to make your career transition seamless and FUN!
Plus, you’ll get early access to curated non-clinical job listings and a bonus lesson on AI!

I also took Therapy Blogging 101. Despite not having a therapy blog, it helped me to create my website!!

How did you find your clinical review coordinator job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?

I started applying to the Optum role and reached out to anyone who would talk to me about their current position with the company. I found them on Facebook and LinkedIn. Most everyone was really helpful in explaining the role I was applying for, as well as the pros and cons.

Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?

I took Non-Clinical 101 and completely revamped my resume. I had never submitted a resume that was not for PT work, and I was completely lost without the course.

What was the interview like for the clinical review coordinator role?

I had an intro interview that explained the role, the hours and some of the benefits—and made sure I was still interested in the position. I had a follow-up interview with a clinical team manager, who asked me more about my work ethic and style.

When did you start your business?

I initially started my blog in the summer of 2022. Since then, it has grown to include a podcast and a YouTube channel!

Where did you get the idea for your business?

I honestly needed a creative outlet and a way to connect to other mamas. After having kids, the daily grind of trading time for money seemed less appealing, and I thought I’d try another avenue.

I love hosting the podcast, where I can connect to other women and share my experience on the road to entrepreneurship. I love creating long form videos on the vlog. I will be offering several courses soon on mama mindset and the path to entrepreneurship.

What is your business, and what types of products or services do you offer?

Currently, I have an affirmation journal available. Coming soon: courses on mama mindset, the path to entrepreneurship, traveling with family, etc.!

How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?

Some people told me I was wasting a talent, but many of my colleagues were desperate to follow in my footsteps.

When people really know the limits of work-life balance as a clinician, they are very understanding of the transition.

What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?

Monday through Friday from 8am – 5pm, you will find me sitting at my desk or on my walking pad working as a clinical review coordinator for Optum.

I answer phone calls from various providers at SNF facilities or hospitals all over the country. I review clinical notes to determine if members meet Medicare criteria for a SNF stay. I either approve their preauthorization request, or I send it to a medical director for further review.

I hang out on TEAMS and chat with my team members from all over the country as well, helping each other throughout the day.

Outside of working hours, I am editing YouTube videos, hosting podcast interviews, blogging and creating a community of mompreneurs. I am married with two kids and one on the way, so life is full right now and I love it!

What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?

I like to check things off a list, and for the most part, Optum has pretty clear metrics that need to be met.

I still feel like I am using my degree, so it was an easier transition out of direct patient care, mentally and emotionally.

Insurance and our processes change almost every day, making it difficult to stay current. Oftentimes, these changes to processes are implemented before they are well thought out, and we have to revert back to old processes while the new one is adjusted. This can be confusing and a bit of a challenge to stay current.

How did your clinical background prepare you for this clinical review coordinator role? Which skills transferred?

Working in both acute care and SNF settings really helped me to ‘see’ the patient when reading through the clinicals.

I have a better understanding of patient presentation, which helps me do my job and communicate with acute case managers, admissions departments and other healthcare and insurance providers.

Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?

It was worth the switch. I do work set hours of 8am – 5pm; however, when I clock out, I am done with work.

I spent nearly 10 years in clinical practice, and I don’t even want to think about how many hours I worked charting off the clock.

In my clinical review coordinator role, the pay is comparable, and I am eligible for overtime pay and bonuses.

What type of person do you think would do well in your clinical review coordinator role?

The type of person who would do well in this role is someone who likes to work independently and doesn’t require a lot of hand holding. It is a fully remote position. You have access to your boss and teammates via email and TEAMS, but that doesn’t always mean they will be available. Also, you have to be able to keep up with technology and changes to processes.

Do you work remotely or onsite?

100% remote.

Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?

Yes, Optum hires PT and OT professionals for sure.

Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?

I took both Non-Clinical 101 and Therapy Blogging 101! I have also taken VRA Academy, Your Turn To Podcast, and Pitching Playbook.

What is a typical career path for someone in your clinical review coordinator role?

As a clinical review coordinator, you can move up into management as a clinical team manager or move more laterally into roles that are similar but focus on inpatient rehab facilities or home health. You also have the option of moving into a role like learning and development.

What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?

I initially wanted to move up at Optum. I’ve taken several leadership courses that they have offered.

However, I really want to be a full-time entrepreneur! I’m in love with YouTube, podcasting and blogging, and the sky is really the limit there.

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?

For Optum, take Non-Clinical 101 if you have no idea where to start looking for non-clinical jobs or how to market yourself.

What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?

In an ideal world, the cost of therapy school would be dramatically lower and the starting salary for a new grad would be higher. There is a large discrepancy, leaving new grads with a lot of debt that is hard to pay off with a PT income.

What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?

The career field is ever-changing, and there are new opportunities being presented every day.

Keep an open mind. You have achieved so much, and you are capable of much more.

What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?

I would teach today’s graduate students business and marketing.

Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?

Keep an open mind. Always be willing to learn and think outside the box.

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