UX Consultant — Alex Courts, DPT

UX Consultant — Alex Courts

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Save 40% on Unlimited Medbridge CEUs with promo code TNCPT!
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This week’s spotlight is on Alex Courts, DPT, a Therapy Blogging 101 graduate who is now a UX consultant, web designer, and Co-Creator of Postpartum Recovery Timeline!

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

Alex Courts, DPT — UX Consultant and Co-Creator of Postpartum Recovery Timeline

Where are you located?

Cincinnati, Ohio.

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

Ohio State University, 2015.

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

Initially, I worked for a national private practice. After eight months, I realized it was not the best fit for me and changed to a hospital-based outpatient position. I enjoyed creating a new rehab program with a psychologist and applying my engineering skills in amputee rehab. Two years later, my husband and I relocated for his career.

After relocating, I worked for another hospital system in skilled nursing, long-term acute care, and outpatient care for three years. Ultimately, I decided to start my own practice focused on pregnancy and postpartum health and wellness.

I have continued my focus on wellness for the past two years as I have transitioned out of traditional physical therapy work and into the tech world.

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

In my early career, I saw patients in the outpatient setting providing orthopedic, limb loss, and chronic pain-related care. After relocating, I explored other settings, including skilled nursing, long-term acute care, and home health, seeing a wide variety of patients as a PRN therapist for a large hospital system.

After the birth of my own daughter, I started taking women’s health courses in birth (obstetrics), pregnancy, and postpartum, as well as external pelvic floor courses to expand on my orthopedic knowledge. I started getting creative with how I could start filling the gaps in pregnancy and postpartum health care with my growing knowledge. This is when I launched my own health and wellness practice, including wellness classes and workshops.

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

I enjoyed getting to know a variety of people, hearing their stories, and helping them—I’m a friendly introvert.

Dealing with some of the barriers in our healthcare system was very frustrating as a new therapist. I also took it personally when my patients didn’t meet their goals, which affected my time outside of work. After starting a family, I realized how much I did not enjoy this aspect of being a PT for me.

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

In all honesty, I officially decided to leave patient care after my daughter, Remmy, was stillborn in August of 2021.

As I’m sure many of you can relate, I was initially drawn to the medical field because I enjoyed helping others. However, as a practicing PT, I often felt the need to put others’ needs above my own.

After my daughter died, I recognized that I did not have the emotional capacity for both my patients and myself, so I chose to not return to traditional patient care.

Since I’m sharing all of my deep, dark secrets with you all, I’ll also let you in on a fun fact that my undergrad degree is in engineering. Throughout undergrad, grad school, and even my early career, I enjoyed things like coding and prosthetics, but never fully explored them. Before Remmy was born, I designed my own website and digital products for my private practice, so this was when I officially started exploring some non-clinical skills on the side.

Looking back now, it’s also easier for me to realize there are a few reasons clinical care isn’t the best fit for me. I don’t enjoy the medical field as much as I thought I did, at least not as much as the tech field. That’s strange to say after paying boo koo bucks to be a PT, but it’s the truth.

It turns out that there are a lot of ways to be a helper in this world that are not medical.

What are you doing these days?

Right now, I work in user experience (UX) as a consultant. I also founded and run postpartumrecoverytimeline.com with my friend from PT school.

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Most of my work week is spent as a UX consultant through a local digital agency, Dot Dash. At my current client, I help to facilitate a more cohesive user experience across their digital products (mostly website and app). They are a non-profit with a focus on wellness products, which is a great fit for me.

To scratch my women’s health and creative itch, I convinced my friend from PT school, Kristina Kehoe, to build a website postpartumrecoverytimeline.com together. Our site helps to bridge the gap in physical postpartum recovery. She is a board-certified Women’s Health Clinical Specialist, so she covers most of our content, and I get to build the digital side of the user experience!

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

I don’t see any traditional PT patients anymore. I do still provide wellness services, which I do not consider clinical, although that utilizes my PT knowledge.

How long have you been in your UX consultant role?

I have been consulting for over a year.

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

Yes, I took the following courses:

  • Coding courses from my undergrad degree in biomedical engineering: not required, but having coding experience helped demonstrate my capacity to learn new technologies.
  • Therapy Blogging 101: this course helped me build a website and was a great way to bridge the gap from being a therapist to being a web designer. The website I built after taking this course is one that I used to build my portfolio that landed me my job!
  • You Are TechY UX Designer Membership: this membership included courses that helped me build my portfolio as well as weekly group coaching on networking, resumes, and mindset.
Therapy Blogging 101: Learn online entrepreneurship from the founders of The Non-Clinical PT and Pink Oatmeal!
Learn digital entrepreneurship from the founders of Pink Oatmeal and The Non-Clinical PT!

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

I found my job through my husband, who works in tech. I let my close friends and family know that I was serious about making the transition to tech. A few people introduced me to their colleagues in the tech world, who were willing to take a meeting with me to share about their experience in tech. As we got to know each other, many of these meetings turned into interviews.

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

I rewrote my resume for an audience in the tech field. I had my husband review it to make sure I highlighted user experience-related parts of my previous roles and removed healthcare jargon.

When did you start your business?

I started my pregnancy and postpartum business in 2020.

Where did you get the idea for your business?

My initial idea for my business came from personally experiencing many gaps in care for new moms and then hearing similar experiences from clients and friends. I saw a lot of potential opportunities to fill these gaps with my background.

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

My business has evolved since starting. My business now focuses on offering information and education on pregnancy and postpartum topics. My two main products are:

How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?

Surprisingly supportive. I can’t believe I ever worried that I would be seen as a failure. My husband also tells me how much happier I am now.

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

As a UX consultant, I:

  • Attend weekly meetings with our website and app teams.
  • Help shape new designs for upcoming features, clarify timelines, discuss dependencies and blockers for other digital teams.
  • Meet with leadership to clarify vision and strategy for our digital products.
  • Facilitate team exercises to help turn UX-related goals from leadership into strategies that can be implemented across teams (including digital, marketing, and analytics teams).
  • Perform discovery (think subjective interview but a lot more exciting) to determine the problems teams are trying to solve and their desired outcomes.
  • Track timelines for various tasks of teams related to overall UX.
  • Document and improve processes.
  • Troubleshoot.

As a web designer, I: 

  • Design user flows and pages for the website and our email campaign.
  • Conduct user research (think subjective interview of our target audience).
  • Maintain website and research new technologies, policies, etc. 
  • Meet with my partner to discuss task management, strategy, and vision.
  • Conduct marketing.
  • Design new digital products.
  • Build relationships with affiliates and collaborators.

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

Being in tech, I have really benefited from working collaboratively with others. This was something I didn’t realize I was missing as a PT. Sure, I would collaborate with other providers on cases, but most of my work day was spent one-on-one with patients. Whereas in tech, a much higher portion of my time is spent collaborating.

As a consultant, I enjoy my work culture—the teams I work with are very collaborative, encourage trying new things, and I have a great mentor at the digital design agency I work for. The biggest challenge in this role is that I am not a part of a single team, so I had to take initiative to determine how I could bring value to my client in my role.

As a business owner working with a partner now, I love the autonomy to explore and create digital products that help solve our users’ problems. Initially, as a business owner, it was lonely, so I am so glad I now have a partner that helps support and push me!

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

I look at user experience very broadly, so there are a lot of skills that transfer well. Here are the parallels that I draw from PT to user experience (UX).

Healthcare systems, insurance companies, etc.
User interviewsSubjective interviews or research
DiscoverySubjective interviews or reviewing EMR
IteratingAdapting a plan of care based on response
Designing pages, features, etc.Designing home programs
Collaborating with developers, product owners, etc.Collaborating with other healthcare professionals

In tech, you may have to juggle a few products or projects at a time. However, after juggling over eight different patient cases per day, my schedule in tech is refreshing and even feels easy compared to healthcare.

Also, problem-solving on your feet and communicating with many different types of people as a PT is a skill that really has been a strength for me when transferring to tech. These are things I would highlight on your resume and in interviews.

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

I generally find the hours to be more flexible and not overly demanding in tech, depending on your position. Developers likely have more “on-call” hours compared to, say, designers.

I was very surprised to not have to take a pay cut. While this is not always the case, I encourage you to carefully consider paid and unpaid work. In home health care, for example, you may be offered a per-visit rate, but that hourly pay has to potentially cover time for travel, patient appointments, documentation, and any follow-up. In tech, I get an hourly rate for any and all work I do for my client.

What type of person do you think would do well in your UX consultant and web designer roles?

For my role as an independent contractor in UX strategy, someone who would do well is:

  • Self-motivated.
  • Willing to learn.
  • Collaborative.
  • Communicative.
  • Detail-oriented.
  • Thrives on looking at the big picture.
  • Able to facilitate meetings effectively.

As a web designer working for myself, someone who would do well is:

  • Self-motivated.
  • Constantly learning.
  • Creative.
  • Self-sufficient.

Building a product by yourself or with a partner is a commitment, so you have to have a lot of patience and see it is a long-term investment for this to be worth it.

Note that I did not have all of these skills starting out. Like Carol Dweck says in her book Mindset, your abilities are not fixed.

On my career and personal journey, I focused on growing in many of these areas and am still growing and learning each day!

I think this is a huge factor to success for anyone who wants to make a big life change—not just when transitioning out of healthcare and into tech.

Do you work remotely or onsite?

I work remotely, but I do enjoy going on site for all team, team building, product strategy, and vision meetings.

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

Yes. In addition to my undergrad coding courses, Therapy Blogging 101, and You Are TechY UX Designer Membership:

  • UX+Web Design Master Course by Joe Natoli on Udemy
  • Reading:

What is a typical career path for someone in your UX consultant role?

User experience is a somewhat new career path. I don’t remember it being offered when I was in engineering school. You can now get started with a degree, bootcamp, or even self-learning.

There are many different paths within the world of UX. You can be a UX designer, UX researcher, writer, product owner, product manager, or even a strategist. You can also be a freelancer or design your own products.

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

Honestly, I don’t know. Most days, I am just grateful to be here.

In reality, the possibilities feel endless for me in tech now that I have taken some leaps of faith in my career. I have started talking with my mentor about getting back to some coding, so I would say I am still an exploratory phase of my career (and may always be—I love learning).

I do want to note that while the possibilities can feel endless, I am very intentional about taking career opportunities that are realistic for a mom who wants to work part-time while my kids are young. No matter where I end up, one day, I would love to be a mentor to others.

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?

Do it! Take one step at a time. Commit to learning and growing. What’s the worst that can happen? You decide tech is not for you, and you move onto the next right thing for you!

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

Healthcare is not the only way to help people! Also, our current healthcare system may not be the best place for you to thrive.

Healthcare will actually trigger more perfectionism in you and constantly working to be the perfect PT for your patients is actually not the answer.

Also, girls can be techy! If you are interested in something, explore it! You don’t have to be a natural; you just have to be willing to fail, and grow, and learn.

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