This week’s spotlight features my good friend, Donna Lampke, PT, DPT, who currently works as a Cross Market Care Coordinator at naviHealth!
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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?
Donna Lampke, PT, DPT, ACRW, CPRW – Cross Market Care Coordinator (CMCC) at naviHealth.
What additional roles do you currently have?
I offer resume review and career guidance services to people who have taken Meredith’s Non-Clinical 101 course and want an extra pair of eyes before submedmitting applications.
Where are you located?
Pawleys Island, SC and Charlotte, NC. My remote position allows me to have a unique lifestyle!
Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?
I went to PT school a long time ago at UNC-CH, and graduated in 1990.
In 2014, I finished my DPT through Alabama State University.
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
I first worked in acute care, and planned to stay one year. However, I fell in love with critical care/trauma and stayed in that position for 26 years.
During that time, I collaborated with other therapists to create a lot of critical care type competencies (SCI/TBI), and did a whole lot of mentoring and staff education.
In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?
I worked in an acute care level 1 trauma center for a large hospital system. My favorite area was in critical care–particularly STICU. I also worked in trauma step down, progressive care, ortho, and med surg.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
I loved learning something new all the time and having physicians/nurses/respiratory therapists to mentor me in critical care.
In 1996, I became involved in some research with the NIH and that launched my driving passion for the next 15 years: understanding how the autonomic nervous system impacts patient care. As I devoured information on that topic, I turned to developing techniques to help people return to homeostasis and normalize their nervous system.
Honestly, there was not one thing that I didn’t enjoy about it all. I loved collaborating, teaching, mentoring, and being part of a high performing team.
What else have you done since then, prior to becoming a cross market care coordinator?
In 2016, my hospital system had some major changes in management. I ended up transitioning to Home Health. That was a very interesting experience in many ways. I learned a lot, and found that my skills from acute/critical made a big difference for my patients.
I really enjoyed close relationships with PTAs (since it became the norm that I would evaluate and they would treat), and I worked with some amazing therapists. I found that I am just not a great fan of driving. I also had some major ethical issues regarding over utilization of services and the pressures from management to conform to their demands.
In 2014, I had an amazing opportunity to develop resume/career coaching skills. I became best friends with the owner of one the largest resume writing services and and a top career coach. One night, he was complaining about one of his writers, and I was complaining about needing more money. Jokingly, I asked him how to become one of his writers. He said, “actually, I think you would be pretty good at it.” So….that’s where my “networking” led me to my first non-clinical career opportunity.
I acquired a number of national resume/career certifications, and had an amazing two years of mentoring from my friend. He passed away suddenly in 2016 (from H1N1), so I went back to the drawing board and began creating do-it-yourself resume products for healthcare professionals. Learning to create/develop my own website and start a business has been a great challenge!
When and why did you decide to completely go non-clinical?
We always joked that it was interesting that I did so much in the non-clinical world for therapists, but still truly wanted to stay clinical. As PDGM/PDPM began to loom, and my agency switched EMR systems, I felt that healthcare had finally kicked the care part of it out of me.
Literally, on September 29th, 2019, I remember calling Meredith and saying, “Stick the fork in me, I’m done with clinical care.”
I continued to work clinically until February of 2020. My case load had sunk to next to nothing, and I was “pay for visit” so it was a tough time and I knew that it was no longer a fit for me.
What are you doing these days?
After I left home health, I piecemealed it over the next 9 months doing resume writing, disease investigation for the CDC, and teaching Anatomy and Physiology….all of these were adventures into the non-clinical world.
I began working for naviHealth in January of 2021 as a SICC. Then, a year later, I transitioned to a role as Cross Market Care Coordinator (CMCC).
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
I did some volunteer work at a free medical clinical for a while last year, but when I started working remotely it was difficult to maintain that schedule.
Currently, I am 100% non-clinical and do not treat patients.
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
Honestly, no special certifications were needed to join naviHealth.
I definitely reviewed the materials in the Non-Clinical 101 course as I prepared to interview. I really love all of the self-assessment tools that it contains. The results of that introspection reassured me that the new role I was pursuing was going to be a great fit for me.
How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?
Well, we all know about the naviHealth pull by now…
I had written/reviewed numerous resumes for naviHealth employees so I was super familiar with the company, the roles, and who was a good candidate for them. I saw my position on Indeed and then applied for the position through the company website.
I have to say that I applied 25 times to other roles(!) before I got a call back from them!
Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?
This is a funny question since I write resumes. I guess I followed my own advice!
What was the interview like for a Cross Market Care Coordinator?
The initial interview was a telephone screening with an HR representative. She mainly told me about the role, the benefits, and double checked my experience. She told me that her information would go to the hiring managers and if they were interested they would reach out and set up a video interview. I heard back within a week and then had a 30-40 minute interview with CTM and an SCM. I got the job offer the next week.
The second interview primarily focused on providing lots of examples of when I had been in challenging situations and how I handled them. Also, I made it clear that I understood that there is a lot of responsibility in allocating health care resources/dollars and that can still be done in a way that puts the patient first. Both of the interviewers were extremely nice and personable.
Tell us more about your business ventures!
I’ve been a small business owner with my DIY resume business. That business focused solely on therapists that were remaining in the clinical realm. I decided to shut that down and shift my focus to providing resume reviews/career counseling. I do still offer a special low-cost package to do resume/LinkedIn/cover letter reviews for students who have taken Non-Clinical 101.
I’m impressed with the resumes that people have written using the templates from the Non-Clinical 101 course and crash courses (disclaimer: I made most of the the templates, but love seeing what folks do with them!) and it’s a pleasure to help tweak them when they want an extra eye to look over what they have.
Obviously, I work in a 40-hr position, but find that career guidance/resume reviewing is super fun and interesting to me, and I love doing it on the side. I love helping people hone their resumes and ensure that they really are nailing the information on the job posting.
I have found that people take a lot from NC101, so it’s really fun to be that final set of eyes to see what people have put together based on the templates and course materials!
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
Enthusiastically for the most part–and with lots of questions on how to do the same.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?
Great question! I get this question all the time so this is a good place to dive in a little deeper.
My mornings start by greeting my team. We have a vibrant team chat that is active all the time as we reach out with questions, offers to help, or requests for help.
Then, I check my board for alerts and clinicals that need to be reviewed that day. I interact with facilities and ask them to please fax over clinicals if they are missing, confirm admission/discharges, and confirm discharge plans.
I always have a large number of emails, so I spend time organizing them. Then, I get down to doing case reviews, reaching out to facilities if there are questions, and making outreach calls to patients/families once I complete a review. Interspersed with that are IDTs with facilities, and meetings with my team (about educational updates, changes, etc).
What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?
The biggest reward is that I still get to help people and use my clinical background. There are so many times that I speak with confused patients/families, and they are so happy to speak with someone that will take the time to help them understand the Medicare chapter 8 guidelines.
Another reward is working with my amazing teammates and people in leadership roles.
My biggest challenge is the struggle of where we are in this country with how to allocate healthcare dollars. This might be controversial to say, but it is Medicare that dictates what is skilled and non-skilled for coverage–not just insurance companies.
A lot of discord about this subject exists with the public and healthcare providers, so it can be challenging to discuss all of the nuances of how our healthcare system works. I respect all opinions and believe that the more we calmly look at all the angles, the better we will be to create solutions together. I’ve been on both sides of the equation for sure.
How did your clinical background prepare you for this role? Which skills transferred?
The skill that has helped me the most is the ability to quickly and accurately perform chart reviews. My years in critical care truly honed that skill, because I had to do it well or I could literally kill someone.
Also, the years in critical care helped me to be able to quickly grasp medical conditions that are challenging the members I follow. My background in home health gave me the ability to fully understand the challenges that are faced after discharging from a skilled setting.
Some of the transferrable skills that help make people successful in my position are:
- Attention to detail
- Ability to absorb information quickly
- Communication skills
- Problem solving
- Conflict management
I use the work that I did in developing techniques to manage the autonomic nervous system (ANS) all the time, and that has been super helpful as well. This skill was recognized by leadership and I’ve ended up giving presentations to other care coordinators on how to utilize many of those techniques in order to reduce stress and conflict.
I was surprised that it was something recognized by leadership, and they then figured out ways to share that information with other colleagues.
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?
We have gone hourly, and I have to say I LOVE that and am a total fan. One thing that I loved about acute care was that my hours were 8 to 4:30. That’s what my hours are now! I love signing out at 4:30 and know that I have practically a whole day ahead of me to enjoy!
Anyone that was ever worked in home health will understand why I am saying that. I never felt that I was able to get away from looming work. And don’t ever get me started about having weekends and holidays off!
The pay is very comparable to clinical work. I know that there are some home health people that are able to manage heavy case loads and make a lot of money, so I would say it is more in line with acute care/SNF/outpatient salaries.
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
An ideal candidate would be open minded and adaptable to revisions in their work flow/procedures. Things change all the time and you really have to be SUPER organized in order to keep up with everything.
Do you work remotely or onsite?
As a SICC, I was on-site for 2 IDTs per week (when the pandemic allowed). Now I am fully remote.
Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
Again, the Non-Clinical 101 course is seriously the best bang for your buck regarding career exploration. It is truly one stop shopping. Between the self-assessment tools, the thorough run down of career options, the depth of resume products, and advise on interviewing/salary negotiating you honestly cannot find a more cost effective way to discover how to transition into a non-clinical career.
As a resume writer and career counselor, I feel like I am qualified to give an opinion and I truly believe that it is a fabulous course.
What is a typical career path for someone in your role?
The majority of people that I work with have a background in either SNF, or a combination of acute care and home health.
naviHealth only hires PT/OT/SLP/RN for their coordinator positions. There are roles as CSOCs and other navigator roles that assistants can look into.
What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?
I love mentoring and educating, and am getting ready to go through some training for precepting new team members. I honestly do like the work that I do and am happy to keep doing that. With the ability to precept as needed it seems like a situation that I will be happy with for a long time to come.
What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a CMCC role?
Don’t get discouraged. Like I said, I applied to naviHealth more than 25 times before I got a call back. I knew that I had the background and the resume, so it was clear that getting that call back is a numbers game.
I think that people just don’t realize how many people apply for these positions. The remote roles are particularly challenging–so keep your eyes open for SICC roles because they are filled from the local applicant pool.
What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?
I wish that there was more consideration given to exploring non-clinical career options in school. I realize that they are in the business of creating clinicians, but it still is an area where more information would be greatly appreciated.
And don’t get me started on all the high loan amounts that people now have to pay for their education. Time for us to go back to the drawing board regarding this!
What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?
PT has been a great career for me. I was fortunate to become a therapist back in the “good ole days.” It has kept me challenged, engaged, and able to fill that I have an avocation vs. a vocation.
I would tell myself to always keep a mind to the future, and seek ways to develop non-clinical skills and connections.
What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?
I would share with them the information and techniques that I have developed around the ANS research that I did. It has helped me so much with relationships, creating patient buy-in, and managing stress.
Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps?
There are a very few lucky ones that fall into a non-clinical career, but most of us have to put a whole lot of thought and effort into getting there.