The Pivotal Podcast

Revolutionizing Healthcare: From ER Nurse to Clinical Data Abstractor with Faith Rodriguez

August 02, 2023 Ben Season 1 Episode 6
The Pivotal Podcast
Revolutionizing Healthcare: From ER Nurse to Clinical Data Abstractor with Faith Rodriguez
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Join us on The Pivotal Podcast for an exciting episode, "Revolutionizing Healthcare: From ER Nurse to Clinical Data Abstractor with Faith Rodriguez"

Listen to Faith's captivating journey from her early days in cardiac step-down and ER nursing to her transition into the realm of health informatics.

In this riveting conversation, Faith gives us a glimpse into the intricate world of stroke abstraction and clinical data abstraction, discussing how these roles contribute to improved patient care. She sheds light on the essential role of healthcare technology and the impact of her career transition on her personal and professional growth.

This episode takes a deep dive into:

  1. Faith's transformative journey in healthcare, from bedside nursing to the cutting-edge field of health informatics.
  2. A comprehensive exploration of stroke abstraction and clinical data abstraction - their roles, impact, and the technological innovations they entail.
  3. Faith's reflections on her career transition, her passion for her current role, and her drive to keep making a difference in healthcare.
  4. Practical advice and insights for healthcare professionals considering a shift from direct patient care to technology-oriented roles in healthcare.

This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in the evolving landscape of healthcare and the intersections of healthcare and technology. Whether you're a healthcare professional exploring a career pivot, a health tech enthusiast, or someone eager to understand how healthcare is being revolutionized through technology, Faith's journey offers a unique blend of inspiration, insights, and practical advice. 

Tune in to The Pivotal Podcast and join us on this fascinating journey!


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Thank you for your continued support, and we look forward to bringing you more exciting episodes in the future.

 Welcome to the pivotal podcast, where we unlock the future of healthcare technology and explore the journeys of those making waves in the industry. Join us as we explore the innovative minds, game changing companies and inspiring journeys that are shaping the future of healthcare, whether you're a tech enthusiast, a healthcare professional, or someone looking to make a career pivot.

This is the podcast for you. I'm Ben Marley, your guides with this adventure that will inspire and empower you to forge your own path in this ever evolving field. Our guest today has made the leap from hands on patient care. It's a clinical data abstraction. Welcome Faith Rodriguez. Faith, thank you so much for joining me today.

Well, thanks. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to share. 

Yeah, I, I literally like, as I was just reading that part, I was like, I don't know what you're going to do, but I don't trust it. So I dragged the document over where I couldn't see either of us. And I was just like, cause I don't even know what it could look like, but I'm like, if you're going to like laugh at me doing this or something, I'm just going to cover that up.

I don't know what it is. So I could get through it. 

So I held a good, I held a good game 

face. No, I appreciate that. That's good. So let's do two things right off the bat. So tell me what you do right now and then what you are, like how you got started on this journey and just give us sort of an overview, just a brief overview of, of your career journey from like what you went to school for and how you wound up where you are now.

Okay, it's like a couple minutes because I know that's like, I'll do 

my best. I'll talk fast. So I currently work as a clinical stroke data abstractor. So I'm auditing, I guess would be an okay term for that. I'm abstracting information from specifically stroke diagnosed patients in patients that are going into American Heart Association is actually, I don't work for the American Heart Association, but there's, you know, governing bodies that protect patients help hospitals with guidelines.

And so I specifically abstract for a. Information technology company that inputs data for different clients, different hospitals all over the United States into my specific specialties for American Heart Association into their guidelines. So I'm looking for what American Heart says needs to be done for stroke patients to meet their guidelines.

I'm looking for all of that data in each stroke case, and then inputting that data for those hospitals for those clients. So that's what I do now. And how I got there is, you know, no one ever really thinks they're going to end up where they, where they do. Right. So I Had thought I was going to be a nurse early, pretty early on about high school years.

I started thinking about that. I don't get grossed out easily. So that kind of checked that box. I was, you know, the one, the girl that didn't gag dissecting the frog and biology to that kind of thing. So interested in science. I've always been a really Play to play to not lose, not play to win girl.

And so that meant I didn't do things I wasn't good at. That meant I like made safe decisions. Usually most of my life and nursing was a practical field to go into. I didn't want to graduate from college with a super cool degree and not be able to get a job. So it fit boxes of my personality. I really do like helping people.

I love talking to people. So. Even though I never like was like, Oh my gosh, I want to be a nurse. When I grow up, it checked all the boxes for who I was and what I was looking for. So I went to nursing school right out of, right out of high school. And my first clinical job when I graduated was on a cardiac step down unit.

So that was, we kind of got a mix. I did have stroke patients back then. Mostly cardiac patients, congestive heart failure DKA, a lot of. A broad range, but you know, not quite ICU yet, but kind of a lot for a new grad. So it was a pretty stressful environment. I would say my patient loads were five to seven patients as a new grad multiple drip.

So you, you kind of got, you know, baptism by fire, but in hindsight, I realized that that helped me a lot with what I was able to learn, but it was a pretty stressful, high turnover floor for that reason. So I did that for about three years until I made my way into the ER world, which doesn't really fit my personality.

I don't in the sense that like, I'm not like an adrenaline junkie or like, yeah, like I want to be the one making the scary calls. It actually was a little bit slower paced than the other job I was doing, which you wouldn't really think. And what I loved about emergency room was. Usually you had plenty of resources.

You always had a doctor right there. When somebody's going bad, you know, there was other staff to, to cover your people and you, it just felt like you had more of a team approach than kind of being on your own on a unit. That was my specific personality. So I really gravitated more towards that environment.

Nursing is so open ended and you're managing so many. You could go to work for 13 hours and you never really felt like you accomplished things. Sometime it was just managing the chaos, right? And in an emergency, I could feel like I like fixed a problem and they went home. And that just emotionally felt, felt better to feel like you were, you could see something get put back together and, and set on its way.

So I, I was attracted to that for a while. So I did that probably about seven years. My full clinical experience was about 10. So for about seven years, I did emergency room. The majority of that time was, was PRN. It was not full time. Once I started having kids, I worked PRN. I have three kids.

They're 13, 11 and. 6 at the time of this recording. So they became my priority, but I still you know, dabbled in PR. And then for a while, and then I stepped away completely from clinical and I went a totally different route. I was doing health coaching, nutrition coaching really more in a sales environment.

And that was really great. It builds, built some other skill sets and communication and leadership and but completely non nursing. I thought I would never go back to nursing. To be honest. I was one of those people that my friends would call and say, Hey, will you talk to my daughter? She or my son, they're thinking about going to nursing school.

And I'd be like I still have nightmares. about having a patient assignment. No joke, but probably as recently as six months ago, Ben, I have a recurring dream where there's a patient that I forget for the entire shift. And then you get to the end of the shift and you realize you never went and saw them.

You never got them their meds. So it, it can be a pretty, I mean, if you're listening to this and you have a background in healthcare, like. I don't really have to wear kid gloves with you. Like it's a pretty, it's probably the highest burnout rate of careers. It's, it's stressful and you, you don't pee and you don't eat lunch and, you know, and it still never feels good enough.

And you're always worried you miss something and there's tons of liability. And that doesn't usually match the pay, you know, so there's a lot of things that people can feel like, man, I can't do this anymore. So never, ever, ever Taylor Swift ever, ever saw myself coming back to a clinical nursing or nursing in general, because that was my lens of nursing.

My lens of nursing was bedside, 12 hour shifts, ugly shoes. You know, taking your clothes off in the garage because you didn't want your family exposed to what was on your, your scrubs. Like that was my lens. And while I'm glad I did it and I learned a ton and I've helped a lot of people, I, I couldn't believe people that could do that for 30 years.

I didn't know how they, most of the nurses that I met that were doing it past 10, 15 years had kind of died inside a little bit. They didn't meaning they, they didn't let the patients in their hearts. And I was a little bit of a. I don't know, cliche Florence Nightingale where I cried with the patients that were crying and it became a lot of emotional baggage to still be an invested nurse.

And I want a nurse that's like that. I want a nurse that's that cares that my, you know, my family members hurting. And it almost felt like the way to survive was to kind of shut that part of you off. And that didn't, that didn't really fit my personality. So fast forward, I took 10 years off of. off of clinical.

Don't do the math because you'll start to know how old I am. But I took 10 years off of clinical. And then a friend that I used to work with a long time ago approached me about doing this super part time promise me no one would ever like poop or puke on my shoes kind of job. And it was completely remote.

And I was like, I don't think so. I never want to be a nurse again. And she talked to me. into checking it out because of my experience, because I had clinical background experience. She said that it would be a good fit because I was always a detail oriented nurse. So that's how I ended up finding a a little part time gig doing abstraction and really loved it.

So I started searching on the internet for other for more hours to do more clinical abstraction. So that's how I ended up where I ended up. 

Wow, that's awesome. So, so many things there that a lot of people can probably relate to. Quick question about what you're doing right now. So is it still part time or is it like a considered a full time thing here?

It's part time. The company that I work for had a full time and part time available. When I was looking, they are I know they're actively still looking for more people for the position. They Accommodated for what I wanted partly because there there's a demand for this. I mean, hospitals are having to keep such high standards for Medicare reimbursements for, you know, they're having to pass joint commission standards.

There's all these accredited accrediting bodies that they have to keep, but they have to keep standards up for that data abstraction shows that it proves to these, to these governing bodies that they're doing what they're supposed to be doing with their, with their patients that they get reimbursement.

So there's a really big demand for it. And they're transitioning. One of the reasons why this is such, sorry, I'm answering maybe more than I need to, but one of the reasons why this specific industry is growing is because they can hire me. Who specifically focuses on I do stroke so that I can specifically focus on stroke.

So I can abstract more data if I'm focused on stroke. I can more efficiently abstract data if I'm focused on stroke than a quality department at a hospital can because a quality department's got to be looking at how falls and they've got to be looking at hospital acquired pneumonia and they've got to be looking at stroke.

Like their, their lens is so broad of. Of what they're trying to keep track of that. They can't be as efficient with one field. So it's, there's hospitals are starting to outsource specifically what I do instead of keeping it in a quality department that that's just too overwhelming for them. And it costs too much because they can't do it as quickly as a specialized remote person can.

Wow. Okay. So what, what is like your day to day work life actually entail now? Like, what are you actually doing? 

Sure. So I don't know how it looks with other clinical data companies. I know what mine allows for. And they provide a lot of freedom where there isn't, there's a weekly hourly commitment.

Whenever I do that is up to me. I've learned the hard way of how to manage that time where, you know, your internet's down or your hotspots not working, and now you're putting into 10 hours on a Friday when you didn't feel like it, or you didn't manage your time well, but it's also very attractive.

Like my husband was gone yesterday and I worked from eight to 10 o'clock last night to knock out a couple of my hours. So it's a little bit for me specifically. I like to get up early, do four or five hours spend summertime. So my kids are home. Spend time with them in the afternoon, maybe do a couple in the evening after they've settled in, go to bed.

That's me specifically, but there's not an allotted because it's specifically you get sent a load of charts. They're your responsibility to complete in your allotted time frame. It's very, very depending on what I'm doing that day. I might take a full day off. I might take a full three days off. I might work to 10 hour days and then not do anything the rest of the week.

So that that part's pretty flexible. 

Yeah, that's awesome. So do you have like a, when you look at your like allotted timeframe, it's like they give you a chart and you're like, have this done by how long? 

So I get a caseload every week. And the way my data company works and it's pretty standard is as you get oriented, they understand there's an orientation process, right?

Like, especially if you're new to clinical abstraction. And you're learning a new an EMR, a new electronic, electronic medical record, right? So maybe you use one in the past, but the client you're working for uses a different EMR. There's an orientation period where they, they allow you to learn that EMR, learn.

where you're finding the data elements that you need to abstract. And then my company specifically will go to a case rate. So this can be a really attractive thing if you're highly motivated, if you're focused because I can bump my hourly rate up by being really focused and being super efficient.

So that, I don't know if that answers your question as far as like, they'll start tracking. How many cases I consistently get done in those timeframes, they'll track that data and then that's how they'll give me an allotted amount after they've seen a few weeks of how how quickly I move, then they'll know roughly how many cases to give me based on my My contract of hours a week.

If that 

makes sense. Yeah. It's like when I'm reading on my kindle and it's like this chapter is going to take you 45 minutes to read. And then as I read through a couple, it's like, okay, just kidding. It's going to be like 20. 

Yes. Yeah. So they track all that. And then adjust your caseload based on how efficient you are.

Okay. That makes sense. And then, so your caseload, like they assign a caseload every week. So it's just like, you know, from the beginning of the week. Okay. This is what I've got to work on this week. Okay. Yes. Okay. Cool. That's good. And I feel like that's, that's really different from the clinical like nursing that you were doing, right?

Because there, like you said, you just kind of ran around and put out fires and didn't necessarily feel like you had anything to show for it at the end of the day. But with this, you're like, look at everything I just did. I did like this whole caseload. It's all checked off, right? Like that's, and as somebody who likes to make lists and check them off, like that would feel really good for me.

It is really fun. I, there's that crummy part where we're like, you finished the last one. You're like, yes. And then like a new load comes, but I, but I, in the same sense, you're right. You can always measure like, Hey, okay. I'm going to do, I'm going to average five a day of these cases or it is really attractive.

Cause not just, not just compared to clinical nursing, but I don't know where other people are at in life. Life is like life is man is putting out fires, right? Not just clinical nursing, like being a parent. Is not, there's no checking a box, right? Like cleaning your kitchen, it's dirty when you turn around.

So, so part of that is it's really nice to have at least in a time when life feels pretty chaotic. I think the world can agree that there's a lot of, you know, things just aren't what, what you've expected or thought they would be, but it's really nice to know an expectation of what your, what your employer wants of you, what's the expectation work at your pace.

Be compensated based on that. Right. Not, not every company does it the same way, but like if you're a hard worker and you're a focused worker, like, that's really nice to, I, I could be answering every call light, skipping lunch Florence night and galing, every one of my patients. And the girl on her phone at the nurse's station, letting the call lights go off, we're making the same hourly rate.

That's pretty discouraging. Right. But if I decide that I get to just in my bubble, do my work efficiently and get compensated, that's a, that's an attractive thing to people who have been frustrated and in clinical and a clinical past. 

Yeah, that's amazing. And it might be because I don't have a clinical background, or maybe I'm.

Feeling particularly dense this morning, but help me understand, like, when you're going through, like, one of these cases, like, what are you actually looking for? And then, like, are you verifying that, okay, everything that's supposed to be in there is, or are you doing something with that data? Like, what does it mean to abstract data?

Sure. 

I'm literally pulling out information elements and submitting them into a virtual platform. Mine specifically that I and put into is the American Heart. Association for stroke, right? So I'm, I find that I'm in the EMR. I find the information element that to meet this criteria, pull it, plug it in.

When you're looking at this part of why, cause you would be like, can't like a computer do 

that. I totally was just thinking that I was like, is this about to get taken over by Chad GPT or something? 

Exactly. And the reason why clinic, like clinical experienced. People is because we and anyone clinical listening is laughing and being like, well, didn't the doctor put it in the note there?

And you'd be like, yeah, there's a little box that the doctor's supposed to put the time that they whatever, but they didn't, or wouldn't that be nice to know when the ER or what size IV the ER put in, right? Like in, because it's not a perfect world. If it was a perfect world, a computer could do this. It could say like, Oh, it could read in the medical record, right?

And check the box that it was, that it was submitted. Why you need a, why you need clinical experiences. I have an RN, right? So I can go in and even if the doctor didn't put the data element in that nice little box that the EMR created for that to be checked, I can go read through his note and based on the guidelines from who you're abstracting for, I have some authority there to say in the narrative.

The doctor said this, and here's the other thing that happens. There's, there's conflicting information in a, in a medical chart. So that would be really hard for artificial intelligence to say the MRI says that this was done at this time. And the report says that this vessel was occluded. The ER physician called it a CT, not an MRI, but they said the same vessel was occluded.

The neurologist called it an MRI same, but said two vessels were occluded. That's where you would need. At least artificial intelligence hasn't gotten there yet to where you would need someone with the clinical background to say who gets who's the hierarchy of who gets to make that call. And what, what data elements am I looking for specifically.

And knowing, knowing anatomy. So if, if a computer called it this, but I know the anatomy and I know where that vessel is occluded above the other one, that's why they called it this. And that will justify it. That's where it's like, there's a little bit of, if you don't know the specific type of clinical that you're having, there are some judgment calls in there.

And you know, the company allows for that and trains you for that. But that's where a no EMR is perfect. And especially in an emergency room setting. Documentation is like you're, you're piecing together and what I love about it to be, it's kind of off the topic is I feel like I'm protecting healthcare workers because even if they didn't document it perfectly, a nonclinical person can, that can be punitive and they can say, well, they didn't put the, the, the exact, the perfect, the, the milligrams of what clot buster they gave.

They didn't put the milligrams on the EMR. So where I can go find it in a narrative and cover their butts for them. So I do like that piece where you're finding, it's my job to dig through it and find, did they do everything? And the other thing is I can dig, dig, dig, dig, dig. And if they didn't do it, I'm protecting patients I'm protecting patients that maybe something wasn't documented properly or, and I'm protecting staff that maybe there just needs to be some training.

Thank goodness that patient didn't, there was no harm, but that can help. Thank you. You know, they can go back to their staff and say, Hey, we keep missing documenting this. And if we ever have a patient where this goes bad and you're not documenting this, this can be really bad for you. So I do feel like I'm protecting, I'm finding the places that show they're doing a great job.

And also providing data and feedback that will help improve systems for them to protect the clinical 

workers. I love the practical application because I never the type person that never does something or never likes to do something because I should be doing it. I like to know, like, wait, but why, like, why am I doing this?

Why does this actually matter? And so that's your why, right? Like, that's a very practical, like, I'm protecting healthcare. Providers and I'm also protecting patients. So that's very, very worthwhile. So as you're going through this, do you have like a digital form? That's like the standard from, from the American Heart Association.

Is that right? And then, so you're going through and it's okay. Look for all these things. And then you take that, that data and you Like bring it over to fill out that digital form. Okay. Okay. Correct. That 

part is very like, you know, I feel like I'm taking like an SAT, like I'm circle, okay, click the box.

Did you find it? Click the box. Did you find it? Click the box. And then I'm signing off on, yes, I found all those data elements in that chart. A lot of data abstraction as well. There's, there's a reabstraction process and a review process. So that part's nice that you don't have to be worried. Well, it also maintains quality, but you will have random all the companies that I've, I've heard about or talk to people who have done this, this type of work, there's a reabstraction process where there's a quality check, right?

Like people are going back and looking and saying, Hey, I couldn't find that element. Where did you find it? And not on every single chart, but it does, it provides a level of, you know, you can't just, Say, oh, I'm sure that's in there somewhere, right? So there's definitely a quality check process. I don't know how all companies are structured.

Mine that I really appreciate is if I'm ever stuck on something or I'm like, you know what? I can't find this. There are special there's like specialists beyond what I do that you can send all of the really obscure things of like, hey, this person, it looks like everything was done right, but I can't see where they.

You know, did dbt prophylaxis where they, they tried to prevent dbts. I can't find that documentation. And so that chart would get dinged. That would get like a, you know, it didn't meet the standards for American heart association. I, in my specific company and most companies send that to a specialist that will then cross check my work to make sure before we send it back to the client that they made a mistake.

We're going to, we're going to. Double check to make sure they didn't do it. So that part's nice. There's multiple people looking for, obviously you want a happy client. That's, you know, we're finding everything that they're, that their staff is doing. But then you get a little element of, you get some confidence that, okay, am I right by thinking that that wasn't there?

Right. So there's a, definitely like a multi step. You're not just kind of an Island where I hope you're doing it right. You know that part helps. 

Yeah, can you hit like control F and search for dbt? Yeah. See, that's cool. It's really cool. It's funny that you compare it to the S. A. T. because when I was teaching students or tutoring for S.

A. T. prep, right? Whenever there was a reading section, I would say, Hey, Basically, all of the information you need to answer these 10 or 11 questions is in this reading passage. All you have to do is kind of go play. Where's Waldo and just go look for it. And then, like, for every question, you go back to the passage, right?

And you go, you go find that answer. And then when you have the evidence for it, that's when you choose your answer. You're not just trying to do it from memory or whatever, right? But with that, it's like, they're looking granted. It's there's a lot of time pressure in that. But they're going back to like 1.

But just a little over one page, maybe, right? How long are these charts that you're trying to, like, where's Waldo this information out of? 

Well, I mean, you could have someone who's an admission for three days, and you could have someone who's an admission for 30 days. Obviously, those are going to be different time commitments, but at the same time, you're looking for specific elements.

So even if someone was there for three days or 30 days, they're not, I get a little, this is, this is maybe this is like, this hasn't come up yet, but this has probably been the biggest challenge for me with this job has been to not feel like I am the practitioner that I do have to figure this person out or that I do.

I have to separate and say, what are they asking me to find? Do I agree with what they found? It's not really my job. So that part's been hard because there have been times where I'm like, Ooh, I think I would have called the doctor there. Or I don't know that I would have given that. I'm surprised they did.

I don't get to make those calls. It just was given. It just was so kind of stepping out of that clinical role and knowing what should have happened, but then documenting what happened. Not what you think they meant or what. Okay. Well, I know because we've all been there where we're like, I mean, I know that they said they, they did the swallow test at 8 o'clock and they gave the aspirin at 801.

But I know that means. They tested their swallowing when they gave the aspirin, right? Like I know that's what that means. And I want to protect the staff. I think I got that backwards. Like they gave the aspirin at eight o'clock and they tested the swallowing at 801. Well, that's a fail. Like you're supposed to test someone's gag reflex and swallowing ability before you give them an oral medication.

Right. But it's 801 and it's eight o'clock. And I know what that means in an ER world. I know you tested it and they passed. And so you gave them the aspirin. I don't get to make that call. I have to say eight o'clock. They gave an aspirin 801. They tested for aspiration. So sometimes that can be a challenge when you're like, oh, but I want to protect them.

I know what, but for quality and long run, because in, in a, if this, if this chart goes to court. They're not going to say, well, I know what you meant. Right. So I'm protecting people by saying, I know what you meant, but you got to document it better. Like it, you have to, it has to be protected. So when you're, when you're looking at charts like that, it's not as overwhelming if it's a short admission versus a long admission, because I'm looking for data elements and they're usually in the same, roughly the same place.

Where how someone leaves at the very end is a lot of the information like where they discharged properly. What was there? What was the ideology of of why they stroked? That's always going to be at the end of a chart. So whether they were there for 3 or 30, I'm still I don't necessarily have to read day, you know.

Day six through 28 usually is not as relevant. So to give you a better idea, a typical, and this is stroke, so I don't know how this translates to sepsis abstraction or OBGYN abstraction, or any of that is typically anywhere from 25 to 45 minutes is an average chart time. If you're super efficient, you can do one in 25 minutes.

And if it's a pretty uncomplicated case, complicated cases usually 45 minutes, sometimes up to an hour. That's usually the range. And it's kind of irrelevant. Because you're looking for the same data elements. You're usually looking in the same place in the electronic medical record for those data elements.

Hmm. Okay. So out of curiosity, how how recent are like these cases that you're looking at? Like, are you abstracting something that happened like last week or is it further back than that? Or I 

would say depending on the client, how backlogged they are. You run into, you know, they're, they got backlogged and let two quality people go.

And so they, you know, I'm doing things from February. But typically it's within three months of when the person was. Was was seen. That's that's typical. 

Okay. Okay. And so based on what you were saying about like sepsis and OB. So it sounds like there's clinical data abstraction for every different specialty like that there will be nursing for is that.

Well, I don't know that I can say that. I don't know that I've ever looked up. There's some outliers there, but I would assume I know that there is, you know, there's like four different ones just for cardiac alone, like for MI and for cath cases cardiac catheterization cases, there's sepsis, there's trauma, there's multiple multiple platforms for trauma abstraction.

There's actually several for stroke to there's I specifically do one type, but there's several platforms that do different types of stroke. So it's one of those things to that. I didn't even know this about this world that there's like entry level data abstraction work. And that would be for somebody who either has very minimal Abstraction experience or none.

Then there's, you know, senior level abstraction positions. That's what I do. And that's just because I had some, some background in it. And then also clinical background. I don't know that you would find 1 of these positions that would hire you without clinical background. I don't know that for a fact.

I don't know that that would, it just doesn't, I don't know that I would want someone, you know, a brand new nurse that doesn't. No real life scenarios. They might just be like, well, it's not here. They wouldn't know other places to look. And so I think there would definitely need to be clinical background for majority of these positions.

But then beyond that, what I'm learning is. I think I mentioned this earlier that there's like specialists of the specialists, right? There's those people that have been doing this for a really long time and that's super, like, that's attractive to me to think about being like the, like I'm the, like, I'm going to find this, you know what I mean?

Like that kind of challenge and then making a chart all pretty and sending it back to its, to its owner. That seems very satisfying. But there's also like different certifications that you can get within this world, like that. You can get certifications in specific trauma that makes you this type of pay scale as well as abstract or level.

So there's, I just kind of thought it was a really broad thing that you clicked and punched and had this broad job where just like in clinical nursing, you can get. Certifications and clinical ladder stuff, and that's available in that abstraction 

as well. That's super interesting. And it sounds like, so maybe not every field, right?

We can't ever say always or never, whatever but it sounds like pretty much no matter what your nursing background is, if it's clinical, there's probably something here for you. If this is something you're interested in. Yes. Okay. And you mentioned pay scale and things and like, you don't have to get into specifics, but how does it compare?

Like if somebody were looking to make this kind of transition Is it similar to what they would currently be earning maybe as a nurse? Sure. 

No, it's a great question. Cause that's, that's, I mean, it was a big factor of if I was going to do something or not when I weighed. So I have I have one position that's about 10 hours a week.

And that is for a hospital system. And. Side note, you, if you look into this and you already are working, make sure that there's not a non compete. The only time I think there's sometimes there's non competes if you're two different clinical data companies. So like I, the company that I work for, I couldn't go to work for a separate clinical data technology company, but it's fine that I'm working directly for a hospital that doesn't outsource.

their abstraction. Like I can't, I couldn't work do abstract abstraction for that hospital if they used a different clinical data company for separate abstraction. But since they don't, they do everything in house. I can do both. The reason why I'm comparing those two is so one is an hourly rate, right?

So, and that one's pretty standard. It's It's a hospital in Ohio, and it has a very average for what, you know, hourly RNs make in Ohio. So I have that position. And then this remote, I mean, this, this data company that I'm contracted with that's where, and I would just tell you, I don't know compared to other data companies, because I've never really looked into their compensation plans.

My data company works on like a flex where you're trained on an hourly. And then once you're efficient, once they feel like you know where things are and you're kind of through the orientation process with that client, that hospital that you'll, you'll be abstracting for then they move you to a case rate.

So that's where it gets a little bit like if you are distracted easily. Not self motivated. And choose to work while your dog and three kids are running in your office, probably won't. Then my, my case rate, my hourly, I guess you, whatever you want to call it, my compensation would probably feel lower than my other one.

But when I'm focused and don't have those distractions or choose to work smart hours when my kids are asleep or whatever, or my office door, then I actually can make. More. Than my typical hourly. The biggest thing there too is, and I don't know that you can monetize this. You can't my, my hourly job, or if I was in person, I can't pop in for 2 hours and and work in the ER and then be like, Oh, I have to leave.

My kid has an orthodontist appointment. I'll be back in 20 minutes, right? I can't pause a case and go grab, you know, I can't pause a patient and be like, I'm going to go shower and get some more coffee and then I'll come back and give you the rest of your medications. Right? You can't monetize the stress level plummeting.

You can't monetize. I'm not, I'm, I'm not paying for gas to drive to my job. Right? No, no, no hospital that I ever worked for paid me for travel time. Right? So my travel time is from my bedroom up to my office. Right? So there's those things that if you really did break it down and you were efficient, I think you could make it work.

More than a typical hourly. Now what I'm not talking about, I'm not talking about COVID pay. I'm not talking about when people were making 100 bucks an hour to work night shift in the ICU. No, I don't think there's a clinical data job out there that's going to pay you hazard hazard COVID pay. So if that's what you're looking for, there's a reason why it's hazard pay.

This is not hazardous what we're doing. So, but I do think it's comparable. And when you will. Add flexibility. To me that's, that's worth its weight and gold of when I, I decide when I work, how, how much I work and, and what gets prioritized in my home. So the people that I've talked to specifically at my company, that's just a theme that these were, everyone I've talked to was clin, was you know, in-house full-time.

Clinical before and all we're looking for lower stress flexibility for their families. Most of them had built families and they were, you know, work in 10 hour days and commuting an hour in the morning and an hour at night and missing stuff where she goes, I can get up now at 5 a. m. And I can get 4 hours in before my 12 year old wakes up.

And I can take her to the pool and then I can come home in the afternoon and I can get my other four hours in the afternoon. And I couldn't do that before I was, they were missing a lot of stuff. So I think it's about, about the quality of time, but dollar for dollar, I would say it, it translates pretty well, unless you're making buku bucks work in 16 hours.

And the worst unit ever that people that has super high turnover, you probably won't make that here, but you might be a little bit happier. 

Yeah, no, that's amazing. And, and there really is something to be said for the value of those things that you can't put like a monetary value on. Right. So I read a book called your life well spent and this sky was.

This CEO of a financial advising firm, and he had this experience where he went out to this client's massive estate and the client was trying to figure out how to leave his like he was, you know, in the 60s or 70s or something. He was trying to figure out how to plan to leave. His multimillion dollar inheritance to his four kids who wanted nothing to do with him and who like he was fairly concerned, like would destroy themselves with that amount of money basically.

Right. And so this guy, when he was a financial advisor, he kind of had this aha moment of in America, it's. It's very typical in our culture for us to try to work really, really hard to retire early, right? And maybe we retire at 60 or 55 or 50 or something, but if we've had kids by the time that we do that and we get there, it's like, what are we retiring to?

Like the kids at that point are either old enough that they don't really care if we're hanging out with them or not, or they're out of the house anyway. And then it's like a lot of people that wind up retiring, find that they have no purpose anymore because there's a lot of purpose in work, right?

When you find something that's in alignment with the way that we've been created. And then he said, so what he decided to do was kind of flip that and work less when his kids were young or work more flexibly. Right. When his kids were young. So he could go then spend time with them when they actually wanted to spend time because he said that it really shifted his definition of success from prosperity to posterity and investing in that next generation because that's our biggest opportunity for an impact.

Right. So it sounds like, yeah, I mean, maybe it's hard to put a dollar amount on that, but that kind of flexibility that you're talking about to get up early and knock out some work and then go to the pool for a few hours, like that enables you to do that. 

What I've seen this summer, especially for me specifically, my kids are all school age now.

So you know, middle of August to middle of may they're at school during the day. So it's, it's a no brainer. This is, you know, I just work from home and get my, you know, Get my things done. What's been so eye opening for me because when I did step away from clinical and did something else, did the health coaching and, and sales, that was very flexible.

And I got that taste of, Ooh, I really like prioritizing my family. And working hard, but working hard when I wanted to and traveling when I wanted to, and never having to miss, you know, an out of state baseball tournament, I've, I've psycho travel sport kids. And so I've just taken my, like this job trans translated, and I don't know that I would be in a nursing job at all ever again, if it wasn't for something remote like this with a lower stress, because there's other stress in life.

Plus I needed something flexible. So we have, we have an Airbnb in Michigan and I can. Pack up and take this there and I got to work for my hotspot because it's really remote, but I can work for my hotspot and I can go and not say, well, I can't go with the kids for three days because. I don't have time off at work or I, you know what I mean?

I have these commitments that this can come with you and you still, I work in hotel rooms at baseball tournaments between games. I've and while that's not life still work, but I would have just had to miss the tournament altogether. If this was standard clinical work, I'd have to miss those things.

And I, I'd rather to emphasize what you said. I mean, I'd rather. Work in house somewhere when they're, they're grown and gone. Then I would, when I get to be with them now, or even if you don't have kids, you might not relate to that piece, but I think we can all relate to wanting to prioritize other things or saying, you know, I love to travel.

And I don't, my job only gives me four weeks a year or two weeks a year and it's just not worth it. Like you can go travel and as much as you want, right? As long as you can figure out wifi, you can go somewhere. And I think that that's such a gift that you're not having to wait, work hard to wait for some days work hard now, but, but prioritize that balance.

And so that's where the monetary thing is. Has been really unique that dollar amounts at a certain point in life, you realize like, man, does this, does this pay my bills? You know, does this help this help take care of the things that are, that are necessary in life? Do I feel like there's, do I feel like I'm bringing value?

And you touched on that earlier, a friend of mine who wasn't clinical as well, went into some sales and she called me the other day and just said, I can't find my. Like, I can't find why this is valuable. She's selling ATMs and she's like, and I just can't. And it makes fine money. It makes good money.

But like, why am I like people need ATMs because, you know or this really brings value because, you know, she's waiting for that. Why like that we talked about earlier. And so it's nice when you can, when you can check all of those boxes, is it perfect? No, right? Like there's, there's, there's challenges.

You got to be willing to sometimes people, nurses, especially if we're like used to, if we haven't, if we've been out of the field for awhile, that can be intimidating. Or we're like, man, I'm not really good with computers. I'm really good with, you know, people on hands on. So there's definitely some things that you'll have, you'd have to learn and grow.

It's not like you would just step into it and it's like, oh my gosh, this is super easy. I don't want to paint a picture of like, this is the perfect, there's growth, there's challenge. But just like if you were orienting at a new a new clinical specialty, there'd be things to learn. So it definitely has that but you can build on those skillsets.

Yeah. As you go. 

Yeah, absolutely. So thinking about those people that could be listening and maybe considering a similar career transition in just like our last minute or two, what, what advice would you give somebody that was thinking about making this kind of similar leap? My advice 

would be

first decide what, what you're looking for in your life. Because I think that that will help you pick jobs right now, my family and I are looking for houses and instead of being like that house would work or we're saying, what, what are we looking for in a community? What are we looking for? And then when we check those boxes, then find a house that makes those things work.

Not, Oh, it's a super cool house, but we would never, but that doesn't fit the community. So what are you looking for, for your quality of life? Ask yourself that question first. And then if it. Answer things, things that you're finding are like less stress, more flexibility. I need a second job. I need more income.

Like if you're looking, if you're, if some of those boxes are being checked in your, and the only way to answer that is. Remote because a lot of times, if those types of things are what you're looking for, your and your only answer is remote, right? I would then say, as you do a job search or don't don't underestimate.

That if you're a good worker, and if if you're, if you think, man, I would hire me if I knew me, don't look at the qualifications on a job listing and go, but I don't have that fill out the application anyway. Put in a call to whoever and ask how do I get in touch with the hiring manager? Talk to Ben of like, how do I, how does this look if I maybe that's really want to do, but I don't know that I meet those qualifications.

Don't sell yourself short. I didn't meet the qualifications for the level I was hired at at this position on paper, but I met it in an interview. And so I want to encourage you that even if you're, if you don't think your clinical background serves exactly the position that you're looking for, you have a lot more to offer a company.

Then what floor you worked on as a nurse, you have a lot more to offer with your life experience, man, I'm a better, I'm probably a way better time manager because I have three kids in sports than I ever was because I had six patients on a floor. So I would just encourage you to not sell yourself short based on your qualifications.

That's huge. Well, Faith, thank you so, so much for joining me for this conversation today. I really enjoyed it. I really appreciate it. Absolutely. It was fun. Yeah. So we hope you enjoyed today's dive into Faith's healthcare journey.  We leave you with this thought: The fusion of healthcare and technology holds endless opportunities. So stay inspired, stay connected, and meet us here next time on the Pivotal podcast.


Introduction
From ER Nurse to Clinical Data Abstractor: Faith's Career Journey
A Day in the Life: Balancing Clinical Data Abstraction and Personal Life
Unraveling the Intricacies of Data Abstraction in Clinical Work
Levels and Specializations in Clinical Data Abstraction
Comparing Compensation and Flexibility in Clinical Data Abstraction
Work-Life Balance: The Value of Flexibility and Family Time in Remote Work
Advice for Transitioning Careers: Prioritizing Quality of Life and Embracing Your Skillset