In this week’s non-clinical spotlight, we’re featuring Jessica Baugh, a physical therapist and Non-Clinical 101 alumnus who now works as an SICC at naviHealth.
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What is your full name and title at your current job?
Jessica Baugh, PT, DPT
SICC (Skilled Inpatient Care Coordinator) at naviHealth
Where are you located?
Prescott Valley, AZ (I work remotely).
Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?
Northern Arizona University, graduating with my Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2011.
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
After I graduated, I moved to my home state of Montana and struggled finding a full-time position. I ended up working in an acute care setting for nearly four years before moving back to Arizona.
I transitioned (briefly) to home health once I got back to northern AZ, but honestly, I didn’t like all the drive time.
I ended up spending the past seven years in an inpatient rehab facility, where I focused primarily on outpatient therapy.
I enjoyed guiding patients through aquatic therapy and I even dabbled in pelvic health over the past few years. My patient population over the past 10 years has primarily been geriatric.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
I think my favorite position as a clinician was my outpatient PT role. I worked in an IRF setting so I got to see people on the more acute side as well, before transitioning to me in OP.
I loved our facility because we had so much to offer—from the pool, to the zero G dynamic gait harness—I truly felt like I had the tools I needed at my disposal.
For me, personally, I wanted to take on non-clinical duties because I am organized and good at multi-tasking. I also thoroughly enjoyed breaking up the patient care with non-clinical tasks.
I’ve been a clinical instructor throughout my career and took on the student coordinator role, as well as outpatient team lead, some blogging duties, and other marketing tasks and community outreach.
I loved all of those non-patient care tasks, but to complete all of them in addition to a full caseload became too much pretty quickly. I found myself working well over my 8-hour salary pay and burning out.
At times, I miss the more active role of being a PT (now I just sit at a desk all day), but I don’t miss having to be the sole cheerleader for someone who perhaps isn’t very motivated to help themselves.
At what point did you realize you wanted to do something non-clinical with your background, and why?
I’ve always been a good multitasker and quite organized. I enjoy doing duties outside of direct patient care, but as I mentioned, doing those other tasks in addition to a full caseload got to be too much.
I’d love to teach because I loved being a clinical instructor but there are no universities in my area and I honestly don’t feel the desire to go back to school to get a degree beyond my DPT.
As a clinician…that’s what I felt I was. I could take CEUs, learn new techniques, or work with a different patient population. But I was still a clinician, and my role was that—all day every day—with no real room for growth, aside from being a DOR someday, which I don’t feel would be a great fit for me.
With naviHealth, I feel as though the company is young enough to really listen to its employees and keep up with the times, so to speak. I feel as though there’s a lot of room for growth to prevent becoming stagnant.
What are you doing these days?
I’m a skilled inpatient care coordinator (SICC) for naviHealth. I work remotely from home and it is a different beast than being a clinician, but I enjoy being at my house and not having to run around getting bodily fluids on me.
This role is full-time and 100% non-clinical, but I do still get to use my clinical judgment with my case reviews.
How long have you been working as an SICC?
As of November 2021, I’ve been an SICC with NaviHealth for 7 months!
How did you find the SICC job?
I first heard about this company—and more specifically, the role of SICC—through Meredith’s Non-Clinical Networking Facebook group. A LOT of people talk about this role because naviHealth is one of the few companies that will take therapists for non-clinical roles.
I can’t tell you how many roles I applied for that required me to have an RN degree…which I do not.
Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?
People ask me how to prepare their resume for this position and the BEST advice I can give you is to take Meredith’s Non-Clinical 101 course.
NC101 has SUCH detailed advice on how to prep for interviews and how to tailor your resume depending on what type of role you’re looking for…check it out! It’s money well spent!
What was the interview like for the SICC role?
The interview process was pretty simple with naviHealth. I had a phone interview initially, to discuss the position and determine whether the interview process would move forward.
The woman I spoke with gave me a good rundown on the role and the company as a whole with basic salary ranges, job duties, etc.
Then I had a team meeting video call with 2 team leads. It went well, and they were both approachable and friendly, with pretty basic interview questions. I found it to be more of a dialogue than stiff back and forth questions.
I would, however, recommend taking Meredith’s non-clinical PT course just for interview tips. (Hint hint…TAKE THE COURSE!)
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
I didn’t. I have my DPT and 10 years of clinical experience. However, I did emphasize how working with clients and having been a PT for 10 years helped me to become more flexible, organized, good at multi-tasking, etc.
For the record, naviHealth isn’t necessarily looking for people who’ve been in a non-clinical role, but they are looking for specific skills. I encourage you to take a step back and look at what skills you have gained over the course of your career and how they might help you transition to a non-clinical role, if that’s your goal. For example:
- Have you gone to team meetings?
- Do you assist in DC planning? (YES, if you’re a clinician!)
- Can you get by with technology? (YES…unless your clinic still has you writing paper notes…yuck!)
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
There are a lot of questions and confusion. People tell me I’ll be back to patient care before I know it. My former CEO kept repeating that she didn’t understand why I wanted to get out of direct patient care, etc. However, we all have our reasons for wanting the path we do…
NaviHealth’s SICC role is everything I expected and nothing like I expected all at once. I found the transition to be quite overwhelming and there were days I wanted to beg for my old job back.
My best friend, however, kept reminding me of the basic reasons why I wanted out of the direct patient care role…and while I kept hoping that my former employer could work something out with me where I could stay on but be half-and-half, I hit a wall and it was either move on or be a full-time clinician.
My friend reminded me that I’d become stagnant and had no real opportunity for growth at my former employer, at least not in the ways that I was hoping to move toward.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?
I love not having to get up early to get “ready” for work and then drive to an office. I’m grateful I can get up, make my coffee, and get right to it!
Over the past few months, my caseload has calmed down significantly. (It was quite overwhelming at first due to NaviHealth’s growth in addition to COMPLETELY switching gears from being a hands-on clinician…stick it out when you first start out in the SICC role, it gets better!)
I start each day by organizing my cases for that day, prioritizing discharges, new admits, and interim reviews. I often have team and/or facility meetings every day…usually one or two.
My day is focused on case reviews to ensure that patients in the SNF setting are appropriate to be there and that they are receiving skilled services. I help guide discharge planning if needed, although I work with some amazing facilities who are on the ball!
What are some of the challenges of your role? What are the rewards?
Challenges…sitting all day. I swear I’ve gained 10 pounds since working from home…no joke! I’d better start working out on my lunch breaks!
On a more serious note, engaging with patients can be difficult because many don’t have cell phones and are hard to reach in between therapies, meals, etc. in the SNF setting. Also, it can be challenging reaching out to facilities who see us as the “big bad insurance people” (which we are NOT), rather than a potential asset working with them to ensure that patients receive the right services for the right amount of time and have safe discharge plans in place.
The rewards are no bodily fluids, no hurting myself lifting patients, and the knowledge that my work-life balance matters to leadership, to name a few. If my immediate supervisor catches me online after hours, she kindly sends me a message to go enjoy my evening.
Lunch breaks are strongly encouraged (soon to be required as we transition to hourly…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), and management truly listens and implements changes, which is huge!
Who of you has ever had some amazing idea, no matter how simple, and it goes into “idea never-never land” and nothing ever comes from it…you’re lucky to even hear that it WENT somewhere.
Change can be difficult, but it’s often for the best, and naviHealth realizes that.
How do you think working as a PT prepared you for this role? Which skills transferred?
Being a clinician really helps you become organized because there are so many clients to see in a day, and all of their paperwork needs to be in timely with nothing missing…in a perfect world.
We’re also good communicators. Not only can we talk to other healthcare professionals, but we ROCK at talking to patients and their families. That’s a HUGE part of this role…the constant education on why Mr. X doesn’t have to stay in the SNF for two weeks just because he was told that’s normal.
Educating the provider, patient, and family helps cut down on length of stay and helps ensure safe discharge planning to lower the risk of readmission.
Plus, most clinicians have used a variety of EMR systems—so learning NaviHealth’s computer system is no different, as it’s just another program to become familiar with.
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and SICC salary as compared to patient care?
I work Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5pm. I try to work 7-4 if I can get myself out of bed because I like being off earlier (that’s manager specific so be sure to ask!)
My pay actually increased slightly coming over to naviHealth…and I’d been an outpatient therapy team lead and full time clinician.
I’m not shy, so if it’s allowed, I’ll say I make ~85k/yr in my current role (variable by region/experience, I believe).
What type of person do you think would do well as an SICC at naviHealth?
You need to be organized. The role of SICC truly takes time to learn. Everyone says it takes 4-6 months to learn and I can attest to that, having finally hit that mark.
Remember earlier, when I mentioned I was practically begging for my old clinical job back? Stick it out. IT. GETS. BETTER. It took a long time to learn the role and fine-tune my process to stay on top of everything…and it’s always changing as I strive to be more efficient all the time!
If you aren’t organized, can’t sit still at a computer, can’t do your best at times and let the rest go, and feel you are unable or uninterested in engaging with staff at facilities, patients, and their families…perhaps this isn’t the best non-clinical role for you.
In any case, don’t despair…there is SOMETHING out there for you, even if the SICC role isn’t the best fit!
You also need to be ok with change…no matter how small. NaviHealth implements frequent changes with the goal of streamlining processes, but if you can’t go with the flow…this isn’t for you.
You also need to be comfortable with technology, or at least willing to learn. Nothing major, just basic office, One Note, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, etc.)
Is the SICC role remote or onsite?
Right now, I work remotely 100% but eventually I’ll probably work on site for one or two meetings per week with my higher volume facilities.
Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?
YES! As mentioned above, this is a HUGE plus with naviHealth because they hire therapists!!!
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
Meredith Castin’s Non-Clinical 101 course…WORTH YOUR TIME AND MONEY!
What is a typical career path for an SICC?
It seems most SICCs worked in direct patient care with their licenses for a few years in order to gain skills and experience prior to transitioning.
Once in this role, I think the sky’s the limit at naviHealth. It really does seem as though there are a lot of options to prevent boredom, stave off burnout, and promote growth!
What is next for you? What do you want to do with your career long-term?
I’m really enjoying my role as an SICC with naviHealth. However, I miss teaching students the most and because of this, I could see myself working as a learning and development specialist with naviHealth down the road so I can pass on all the knowledge I’ve gained in this role.
The realm of appeals and denials has also piqued my interest since having this role…but that’s the joy of NaviHealth. There are a lot of different routes, so I’ll never be bored or feel as though I don’t have options!
What would you recommend to someone who is considering becoming an SICC?
Talk to people in this role. You all have my permission to reach out on FB, LinkedIn, or Instagram…just ask questions. Get information. You’ve got to be ok with tech stuff, ok with sitting down for long periods of time, ok just doing your thing from home.
Some days I feel like I work harder from home than I ever did in a clinic. This isn’t a role where you’ll get a lot more time with your family during the day. Yes, you’re home under the same roof, but you are working!
However, you don’t have to get up early and “get ready,” and you don’t have to commute to and from work and decompress and the end of the day.
I feel as though my work-life balance has improved significantly. I love my supervisor…I feel heard. I feel supported. My team checks in with each other. We HELP each other. We have weekly team meetings so we don’t feel as isolated being remote.
What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?
I wish there were more non-clinical options in facilities. I can’t tell you how many times I went to my former DOR, CEO, etc. asking for small changes to be implemented for efficiency, or to ask for more time to do more non-clinical duties.
I understand from the business aspect that clinicians are hired to treat patients…not to go out marketing, helping the office staff, or doing whatever else. However, I am also very aware of how these little duties (audits, anyone?) get passed out among already overworked staff and many of those people are already burnt out and don’t want to do them.
If clinics could tap into all of us…the folks interested in non-clinical duties to break up the day, and help us cut down our caseload in order to take on these other tasks that no one wants, no one has time for, etc. (yet are often necessary), I really think things could move more smoothly and there’d be less burnout overall.
I know a TON of clinicians who would NEVER want to do audits or other non-clinical duties but that was my jam.
If you could give yourself one piece of career advice you wish you had during your PT school program, what would it be?
Don’t stay with an employer who doesn’t see your value…your life is more important than your job. Don’t be afraid to try something new…you can always go back to direct patient care if you decide to.
If you could teach anything to today’s graduate students in your profession, what would it be?
Honesty? Take a year off before grad school. See if that’s what you REALLY want to do. It might be and if so…have at it!
I feel like there’s so much pressure to just keep going to school until you get whatever graduate degree…then it’s BAM! Work force…and it doesn’t give us a chance to just step back, take a breath, and think about what we want out of life.
I hear about new grads feeling burnt out…even in grad school and then immediately moving into a different career path. There’s no rush…take your time!
Do you have any special advice for other PT/OT/SLP/assistants who want to follow in your footsteps?
If you haven’t guessed it yet…take Meredith’s Non Clinical 101 course!!! Apply to jobs even if you feel unqualified. You never know! Reach out! Ask questions. Her networking FB page is where I heard about my new role and where I was able to prepare for it.
Jessica took NC101 to land her role, and you can do the same! Care coordination is just one of the 25 non-clinical career paths we explore in Non-Clinical 101. I created NC101 to help you skip the confusion and overwhelm so you can land the job you want!