As nurses and nurse practitioners, it can be unclear what our clinic and hospital’s administrators actually do on a day to day basis. And, if we ever want to take a step out of patient care and into the business side of medicine, it’s helpful to understand what working in other areas of healthcare looks like. To clear up the confusion, we sent ThriveAP Intern Stephanie Bauer on assignment to look into the life of Mayo Clinic Operations Manager Britany Williams.
Stephanie spoke with Britany, Clinic Operations Manager at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona where she oversees and manages the Division of Behavioral Neurology, about what a typical workday in her position entails. Here’s what Stephanie discovered about the day-to-day dealings of one working in clinic operations for one of the country’s most respected medical powerhouses.
Where did you start off to reach the position you hold now?
I started off my career at the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic location where I rotated through many departments within the clinic to figure out where I fit best and what department I enjoyed working in most. There were many departments that I enjoyed such as managing the Preoperative Evaluation Center and the Pain Management Clinic. My duties in these departments included triaging issues, supporting staff within the unit, performance evaluations, staff development, responding to patient complaints, moving forward with strategic initiatives, and also ensuring that my departments met organizational targets such as patient volumes and quality of care.
Since the Neurology Department was so interesting to me, I decided to transfer to Mayo Clinic’s Arizona hospital location to pursue the operations manager position when the opportunity became available.
What does the typical day in the life of a clinic operations manager look like? What are your main job responsibilities?
Every department in the Mayo Clinic has an operations manager that oversees the day to day activities within a given department. I am in charge of the Division of Behavioral Neurology Department. A typical workday for me begins at 7 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. My major job responsibilities include making sure doctors have the resources required to do their jobs, supporting allied health staff, responding to patient issues, and working on various long-term projects.
One responsibility I have is to manage the neurology department’s financial budget which includes spending accounts and rates charged for services. I am also responsible for developing and researching programs and securing funding for the department. I interact on a daily baisis with my facility’s administrative board meeting about finances and staffing. I make sure our level of staffing is adequate to meet the needs of patients coming to our clinic each day for treatment.
Performing the wide variety of duties of a clinic operations manager requires good customer service skills, a background in economics and accounting, and strong decision making abilities.
While you aren’t doing hands-on patient care as a nurse, how do you interact with patients in your position?
My position helps ensure patients receive quality care in the clinic. In the department where I work, the majority of patients present because they have a cognitive impairment or behavioral changes. They may have symptoms of evolving neurodegenerative disorders the most common being Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body Disease as well as frontal temporal lobar degenerative syndromes. The practice also treats patients with treatable, non-degenerative conditions. Patients are monitored by neurologists with expertise in early detection of memory and non-memory based dementias, their differential diagnoses, longitudinal characterization, and long-term management.
To help improve care among these patients I look at access to care helping arrange transportation for patients who cannot get to the clinic on their own. I also make sure patient’s diagnoses fit the types of illnesses treated in my particular department. I maintain good relationships with referring physicians who send their patients to be treated at the clinic where I work. When physicians implement new procedures or services in the clinic, I make sure the proper staff is hired and necessary equipment is purchased.
What value do you feel you add to the Mayo Clinic?
At the Mayo Clinic, we treat a lot of patients seeking care from a specialist. In our healthcare system, many patients require pre-authorization to receive coverage for a specialty visit from their insurance provider. This presents barriers to treatment for some patients. Other patients may not have insurance at all, preventing them from being treated. I am able to help patients in these situations making a difference in their lives.
For example, the other day a woman presented to the clinic. She had just lost her job and could not afford much-needed specialty care. I was able to offer her the option of charity care, which pays for services for patients who cannot otherwise afford them. In other situations, I may make sure patients are able to follow-up with specialists in a timely manner following discharge from the hospital. I troubleshoot complications and situations to make sure patients receive the best care and services possible.
What do you like most about your job? Least?
I enjoy helping people in need. When individuals present to the Mayo Clinic they are likely experiencing detrimental life events and my job is to ensure that they receive the care they need and that their providers have the resources, time, and tools to provide that care. I enjoy that aspect of helping others. It is motivating to see smiles on patient’s faces when I solve problems and put together day to day clinic operations that ultimately help others.
The part I like least about my job is that sometimes a patient has challenges I am not able to help them overcome. I strive to provide optimal service and make a positive difference in patient’s lives but occasionally we cannot achieve a favorable outcome. One challenging part of my job can also be working within the department’s budget to make sure everyone has the resources they need.
What advice would you give to those interested in pursuing a career in healthcare?
Approach every situation with compassion and passion for the job you currently hold. Working in healthcare is not necessarily the most lucrative career, but the reward is making a difference in the lives of others. Keep that in mind when you face challenges. Always put the needs of patients first!
A big “Thank You” to Britney Williams for sharing her career!
Do you plan to branch out from direct patient care as a nurse or nurse practitioner to an administrative role?
Britany Williams is a graduate of the University of Florida where she received an undergraduate degree in finance. From there, she went on to earn her executive master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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