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Career Spotlight: Integrative Medicine Clinic Manager

"Why do you do what you do?" is a question I have often asked over my recruiting and coaching career, to allow me to better understand the person more from a big picture perspective. One can never assume why someone likes it or how they got to that point in their career, and because of that, I love sharing stories of people in my network that inspire and show folks that there are many ways to reach the same goal - not all of them how you might assume! For my blog in 2021, I'm focusing on highlighting a variety of professions to share with folks out there who are either still figuring out their next step, or know what they're interested in, but could use a little external motivation!

The amazing Jackie Engel, ND, is my second subject for 2021. Once my Naturopath before I left for the coast, I loved working with her because a) her combined pre-med and naturopathic education brought a multi-faceted approach to her work, b) she always provided me with a variety of options for care, rather than the typical 'my way or the highway' that I experienced with NDs of the past (none who had any genuine medical training), c) and she was REAL. Not some super hippy dippy Goop-y gal, just an authentic, kind human being...who happens to also be a LMT with magical powers in craniosacral therapy and lomi lomi massage to boot!!

When Jackie let me know she was moving into a new role away from self-employment and taking on a leadership role in Integrative Health at a Portland area hospital, I knew I'd have to find a way to feature her on my blog. So with that, here's what Jackie had to share about her professional journey...

So, what does a Clinic Manager actually do?

I'm a Clinic Manager for the Providence Cancer Institute (PCI). I started out managing the Integrative Medicine department for two locations, and now I also oversee Breast Surgery, Breast Care Clinic and Genetic Risk. Along with that, I also manage two Transitions stores, which sell products for cancer patients, including compression garments, mastectomy bras, hats, and more.

What do you enjoy most about being a Clinic Manager?

Managing and being a "leader" is really fun! From leading projects, seeing them from beginning to end, solving problems, working with people, I like supporting Integrative Medicine in whatever way I can. At PCI, this means Naturopathic Doctors, Acupuncturists, Chiropractic, and Massage Therapists. My work is dynamic - I interact with many different groups including providers, staff, patients, and other leaders in the organization.

I will note that it's a very demanding job, with a lot of responsibility. Since I don't have a supervisor, everything falls on me. With the pandemic, it's meant a lot of long hours, emotional stress on my team, constantly learning new information and creating new workflows. It's a lot! Recent natural disasters (wildfires, snow/ice/power outages) haven't helped either.

Describe your career path to get here - did you have a longtime interest in integrative medicine, or what inspired you?

My BA is in PoliSci - I loved the meshing of sociology/anthropology/political and social organization. I wanted meaningful work, so massage school was my first stop, where after graduation a friend introduced me to their Lomi Lomi teacher. I LOVED the study of Hawaiian healing arts including sound, chanting, Ho'oponopono (the art of letting go and forgiveness), herbs, nutrition, spiritual practice, as well as a massage style that really resonated with me. This inspired me to attend Naturopathic College. I practiced naturopathy for 14 years, but the stress and burden of insurance billing and denials, finances, and more eventually got to me. I accepted a position of Clinic Manager with PCI's Integrative Medicine department, and within a year, my role grew to also oversee the Breast Surgery, Breast Care and Genetic Risk departments. It's been quite a ride!

How did you gain the skills (technical &/or soft) to do the work? What (or who, or both) helped you advance?

I gained many skills through formal education at my undergraduate and graduate universities, and massage school, as well as tons of continuing ed classes. What I love the most are the informal classes, especially herb classes. In addition, I joined several groups of colleagues formed to help each other navigate making it in the professional world with an alternative medicine degree.

What advice would you offer to someone wanting to get into this line of work?

Hmm...this work isn't for everyone. It isn't easy. But, if you like a dynamic, stimulating environment, love healthcare and have a desire to be of service, you can get a lot of joy and satisfaction from pursuing it. I'd say, follow your interests, have faith, and talk to a lot of people. Connections are a big help in making your way into a successful practice, or finding a good job. I'd rather have a rich life than an easy one, so my choices suited me. I also had a lot of good luck, was in the right place at the right time, and had many supporting me along the way, including loyal patients who helped keep my practice busy!

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