With 26 years of nursing and medical experience to back her up, Julie decided to take the next step in her career. As ambulatory patient care coordinator, Julie has put her extensive knowledge to use, educating other nurses, improving hospital policies, conducting peer reviews and managing numerous other tasks. In this Salary Story, she explains how she reaches ambulatory department goals, improves the system, and thrives in a challenging position.
PayScale: What is the job description of an ambulatory patient care coordinator?
Julie: I coordinate nursing education, nurse and physician peer reviews, quality improvement studies, statistics, patient complaints and praises, emergency management, infection control for the division, inspections, the hospital intranet and anything else that comes up. This is for 22 clinics that include urgent, primary, pediatric, adult, AIDS/HIV, women’s centers, and outpatient clinics.
PayScale: How did you begin your career as an ambulatory patient care coordinator?
Julie: Actually somebody was let go from the position and the director asked me to step in until someone was permanently hired. I ended up liking the job, applied and got it. This job is big on problem-solving and there is a lot of in-depth computer work. I love computers and have always been the first person to jump in to solve a computer problem that arises. To me, it's like a game to beat the problem. It is also a very autonomous position, which allows me to be creative. I have made many changes, and they all seem to be appreciated.
PayScale: What do you love about your job as an ambulatory patient care coordinator?
Julie: I love the genuine, caring people I work closely with. We have had many tragedies in our personal lives over the past year, like deaths of spouses or parents as well as surgeries and major illnesses. This is between the main four or five people I work with. All of us have been there for each other in any way we were needed. This is why I became a nurse, to help people, and all of these people feel the same way. We are there personally and professionally in any way to help each other get through. This is what makes it worth staying at a job.
PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face as an ambulatory patient care coordinator?
Julie: I am the program coordinator of 22 clinics that are all in different locations, including the main hospital.This makes communication a real challenge, especially with the main hospital. I have been working to find a connection between our clinics and the hospital because we are very often forgotten, or left out, causing us to not be on the same page in very important ways. We have a hospital intranet with an e-mail system, but communication problems continue and are the greatest cause of frustration for me.
PayScale: What advice can you offer to someone in your field?
Julie: You need a lot of experience as a medical professional in many different areas to do this job. You have to not be afraid of computers, making decisions, or working independently. You should be comfortable with communicating with physicians, administrators, etc. People look to you for answers, so you need to be confident enough to supply the correct information, or to figure out where to find it. This can be a very satisfying job because I have been able to take my 26 years of nursing and the huge range of experiences I have had and apply all of it in a constructive way. This job is for someone who has been around the "block" or "nurses station" a few times. It's not for a rookie.
PayScale: Could you tell us about some interesting moments that you’ve experienced during your career as an ambulatory patient care coordinator?
Julie: I have finally been able to influence the administration, physicians and many other hospital areas that I never thought would listen. You could go in so many directions with this job and make it as interesting as you like.
I have gotten into emergency management because of my military experience and worked with the county in case of a widespread pandemic or other event. All agencies met and had a drill, including the fire and police departments, all of the hospitals in the area, and the nearby military base. It was an excellent experience.
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