It’s not common to have a clinical career in the corporate setting. Ever wonder what it is like? Ryan, our Clinical Director for Optum in the Philippines, shares his experience on what it’s like to have a clinical career in the corporate world. As a leader at Optum, the fastest growing part of UnitedHealth Group, he also shares how he engages his team, and how he guides them in their career growth.
1. How long have you been working at Optum? What were you doing before you joined?
I joined Optum in August 2017. I was the Hospital Administrator responsible for running the day-to-day operation of a 650-bed-capacity hospital in Houston, Texas. But my interest is in organ transplantation where I spent a good number of years as a nurse clinician.
2. How did you learn about Optum?
A recruiter called and asked if I was interested in a leadership role at Optum – in the Philippines! It took me a while to realize the unique opportunity presented to me and my family. From there, I researched about the company and the culture at Optum.
3. Can you share how you started your career with Optum?
I remember vividly my first interaction with a senior leader in Optum. I was hesitant to change my career from a hospital setting into a corporate job because of the changes I saw coming in the health care and political landscape. Everything at that time was uncertain, but I had to see what I was capable of learning outside of my realm. I was hired as the Clinical Operations Director and the first few weeks were spent getting inducted across our various offices learning the various processes to share with our team members in the Philippines.
4. Many people are not aware that you can still practice your nursing/clinical skills in a corporate setting. Can you share what it is like to have a clinical career in a corporate setting?
As a nurse clinician for many years, the satisfaction of helping people is tangible – starting an IV line, giving critical IV meds, etc. - all involve access to the very nature of the profession of nursing. This becomes particularly challenging in the corporate setting, but this doesn’t take away essential elements of the nursing process: to assess, analyze, plan, implement and evaluate. The critical thinking process is on hyper drive mode as a clinician is listening intently on the other line for any clues and symptoms that may lead to disease management and prevention - the essence of nursing doesn’t change, but the mindset of nurses has to adapt to the setting of care from the hospital to the office.
5. What are the career opportunities nurses can get at Optum?
There are plenty of career opportunities for nurse clinicians at Optum especially at the core clinical span – from being part of the Neonatal Resource Services to managing and reaching out to patients on the SNP HF team (Special Needs Patients Heart Failure), our nurses enjoy the satisfaction of changing and making an impact on other people’s health and daily lives.
Our teams are continuously growing and looking for new talent who are a culture- fit and have the capabilities to work at a fast-paced and challenging work environment. Check out our website at workatoptum.com and explore the many opportunities we can offer you beyond the walls of the clinical floor and be amazed at how much you can grow with us.
6. What is a typical work day like as a Clinical Director for Optum, a UnitedHealth Group business?
The work is very dynamic and one must be nimble enough to cope with the pace. A typical day is usually a quick check of what’s ahead in the calendar – I like coming in early to talk to the staff and see how everyone is doing. Meetings and pocket gatherings are very common and the atmosphere is relatively business-like and the coffee is limitless!
7. We are a big company. How do you keep your team engaged?
There are always great stories to be picked up just by making the rounds. Asking people from my team and knowing what drives them to come to work day in and day out allows me to understand the “why” in all of us. Why do we come to work? Why do we do what we do, and why do we do it all over again the next day? Everyone has a story and I love hearing a good story of family and friends, struggles and success. Aside from that, I also encourage and motivate them to get out of their comfort zone and explore opportunities for growth.
8. Has there been one story that reminds you of the impact you make as a Clinical Director?
There’s a show I follow online– The Designated Survivor. In the series, one man was thrown into the role of being the leader of the free world overnight and he fears he is incapable of such enormous responsibilities. But he stood firm and stuck to his strengths and did not lose his common sense. The shadow that we cast as leaders is what others will often see and emulate – awareness of one’s self is the key.
9. For our last question, any tips for nurses who would want to start a career with Optum?
Don’t hesitate to get out of your comfort zone and explore opportunities around you. You will never know what you’re capable of until you make that first bold step.