Practice Administrator: Communication in Healthcare

Most people think that you can’t do much with your Communication Studies degree after graduation, but they’re totally wrong! Careers in communication don’t always have to do with social media, or marketing per say. There are so many different opportunities in Communication Studies that aren’t even advertised. One thing I always look for when job searching is a personal interview about how they got their career. It always shows me that there aren’t steps to get a certain job. There are so many things you can do to get the job you want. I decided to get in contact with Frani Bliss, a Practice Administrator in sunny Tampa, Florida. She gives a more in-depth breakdown if the job and how she became so successful as one.

What is your current job title?  

Practice Administrator for Allied IM LLC, a Hospitalist Physician practice

Where do you currently work?  

I have the ability to work from home. Our practice is hospital based and we do not see patients in an office setting.

What exactly is a Practice Administrator?

A Practice Administrator is a non-medical based position in a medical practice, responsible for the business operations, such as human resources, recruiting, billing, and accounting.  Additional responsibilities include communication to the group, addressing scheduling conflicts and assisting with customer service for patients and other providers.

Give us a brief rundown of your day to day operations?

The day-to-day operations as a practice administrator include:

  • following up with the employees working to be sure their billing is sent in a timely manner
  • accounting
  • payroll for the next pay-period
  • credentialing current and new physicians
  • working on the next few month’s schedules
  • communicating and scheduling new candidates for hire

What is one skill you need to do this job effectively?

Attention to detail is by far the most important.  I have a lot of responsibilities going on at the same time and the details of each are equally important.  The healthcare field has so many checks and balances for privacy and health information protection. It is a must to be sure to adhere to those guidelines in any patient related work. Also adhere to the privacy protection when working with different employees.

How did you get to where you are today?

The Beginnings

I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising at University of Florida.  I had many business classes during my time there and when I graduated I really wanted my “dream job” in an advertising agency.  Reality came quickly as I graduated one month before the terrorist attacks on 9/11 so the job market for Advertising was very low.  I accepted a low-paying position as Director of Marketing for a local moving company.  It was the closest thing I could get to the advertising world.

At that first job, I really learned what it was like to work and be a part of a “small business”.  I learned QuickBooks, HR and payroll there. I had to respond to a few un-happy customers and defend my company to the Better Business Bureau, a ton of experience in about 18 months of work.  Though I left the moving company for a better paying job, I still consider it my best job, but it was not a career.

AccuData

Soon after, I accepted a sales position at AccuData, a company that brokered data to marketing companies and advertising agencies for Direct Marketing/Direct Mail purposes.  This was so different than my previous position and I had a lot to learn about working in a larger corporation.

Once I became Senior Sales I began to travel on my own, while at AccuData I ran a book of business that I was responsible for, I was responsible for my customer service team and I making a monthly profit goal.  I had to develop business plans for my book of business and I was able to travel frequently to keep up my client relationships.  I learned at AccuData it is all about the relationship,  I was with there for almost 7 years until the Great Depression of 2008 and my customer’s marketing budget went to nothing.

The company was downsizing and it was time for a change. I changed career paths to direct selling in health-care, specifically home health.  Again, I had to learn a new industry that I was pretty familiar with, as my Mom is a nurse and is always working.  Home Health opened so many doors for me, I met and made so many great contacts, other salespeople as well as some amazing physicians.  I worked for several home health agencies, each position with a better pay-rate and I was really enjoying working independently and meeting new people-each day was different.

Moving to Tampa

After a few years I decided to move to Tampa with my significant other, and continued to work in home health, I also started my own medical marketing company, Revolve Marketing.  Tampa healthcare was not as fulfilling as Ft Myers and my significant other had dreams of starting his own practice and I was on the sidelines helping him and his current partners attain that goal.

We found an office, hired a secretary and my significant other and another partner took on an administrator role.  I was doing administrative work without being paid and was working several hours a day for the practice. I was contacting PCPs for meetings and after a year or so, we found out several times our secretary had been sleeping at the office during the day while she was supposed to be working. It’s safe to say it was not working out with her.  We had to let her go and at that time I took an official role with the practice.

Within a year I had to hire an assistant and within two years we went from 5 physicians to 10 physicians, 2 full-time mid-level ARNPs, and 2 part time mid-level ARNPs and an assistant.  Very quickly I went from just a few employees to over triple.  Each position has offered new ways to grow professionally. It was good for me to recognize that it would be a while for the economy to recover and to switch to a more stable industry.

Were there any classes you took in college that helped you the most?  

The classes I took in college that has helped the most would be marketing and also economics.  Business Administration would have been helpful but I didn’t know what I was destined to do, understanding business is essential.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that my job is flexible. It allows me to work from home, being able to manage my time and be effective working independently.

What was something you wish you had known before becoming a Practice Administrator?

I wish I would have known working with physicians their primary focus is patient care. They really do not put priority on administrative or operations, from signatures needed to forms completed. It is like herding cats and scheduling meetings is very challenging during patient-care times.

What advice would you give for anyone who wanted to eventually have a career in Communication?  

I would definitely be open to different positions that can utilize talents and skills that Communication degrees develop.  Sometimes taking “grunt work” jobs help to get to the top, nobody was handed an amazing position making major money.  Interning is an amazing way to gain experience-experience trumps degree in almost all cases, I have seen it first-hand.  It is also important to be flexible, learn from each experience and always go up. Also, don’t quit anything until you have another position lined up.

Getting more personal information helped with better understanding the career. It is something I’ve looked up to her for in her path to success.  The career of a Practice Administrator may not have been on your list, but may is interesting to look into! There is no one path to any career. There are always ups and downs to get there, but if you put in the effort, you can achieve it!