If you don’t know the name Olivia Pope, or have never seen the show Scandal, let me just tell you that you are wasting your time on Thursday nights. For those of you who are not on the Scandal bandwagon, it’s the immensely popular ABC hit drama which chronicles the highly stressful life of Washington’s most impressive (and fictional) fixer, Olivia Pope. Olivia — a ruthlessly efficient workaholic who mainly subsists off of popcorn, wine, and justice for her clients — spends countless hours a day hiding and/or smoothing over the mistakes and misfortunes of D.C.’s most prominent players in the most ethical way she can. She calls it, “wearing the white hat.” But not all her clients are good guys, and not all her cases are solved completely above-board. This constant intrigue mixed with her disastrous love life and the palpable chemistry of Scandal’s ensemble cast is what makes it one of the most addictive shows on television.
Now that you’ve got a little background on Scandal and it’s leading lady, Olivia Pope, enjoy this post. Then go binge watch Scandal season one. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
So, how does a show about high-powered politicians and elaborate government cover-ups relate to working in healthcare? Well, let me explain. As a medical administrative assistant I realize that I’m basically on the bottom of the food chain as far as healthcare administration goes. However, I’ve also realized after working this job for nearly a year that even if you’re in an entry-level administrative healthcare position, if you genuinely make a point to be good at it, you will start feeling like you’re Scandal’s Olivia Pope.
Even though we aren’t the ones providing direct patient care, healthcare administrators and administrative assistants alike work non-stop to try and make our patients’ lives better, easier, and overall less stressful — and just like Olivia Pope, we work hard. Similar to Miss. Pope and her crew, we healthcare professionals have to wear many hats to do our job proficiently, and we have to think outside of the box.
Being a healthcare administrator is like being a detective, a transportation coordinator, a scheduler, and an insurance expert all at the same time. Often our patients don’t even have the information we need to help them, and even when they do have the information we need, they don’t always take their issues as seriously as we do. But honestly, none of that even matters. As healthcare professionals, it’s our job to put our patients well being first, so that’s what we do. Just like Olivia and her team of gladiators, we healthcare administrators always get the job done, because we have to.
If you’ve ever worked in healthcare administration, on any level, I think you’ll agree with me on these seven ways that working in healthcare administration will make you feel just like you’re the brilliant and powerful, Olivia Pope.
1. I’m on the Phone a LOT
One of the first things I do when I get home from work is set my phone to silent. When I’m at work I feel like the phone rings incessantly, so when I get home the last thing I want to do is hear more ringing. At work, even when I’m already on the phone taking care of business for our patients, nursing staff, doctors, social workers, dieticians, or my clinical manager it still rings on the other lines. Thankfully, I’ve become an absolute pro at juggling phone calls. Much like Miss. Olivia Pope.
2. I Always Try to Look Professional
Part of any administrative job, in any field, is to literally be the face of the organization you work for. I’m usually the first person our patients see when they come in for their initial clinic visit. So, just like Olivia Pope, I consider it part of my job description to show up to work looking put together and professional. It’s my duty to ensure our patients feel their needs and concerns are going to be taken seriously, and how can I expect them to feel that way if I don’t even take my appearance seriously? Dress codes aside, it just makes sense to present yourself with grace and polish. Because you’re not just representing yourself, you’re representing your organization. Throughout your workday you will become an ambassador of sorts for both your organization and your patients, so if you’re anything like me you’ll want to follow Olivia’s lead and look the part.
3. I Fix Problems All Day
Just like Olivia Pope and her “gladiators in suits,” I spend most of my workdays fixing problems. Of course, they’re not problems on Olivia’s level, but anyone who’s ever had to deal with a patient’s transportation issues knows there’s always a problem to be fixed. And even after it’s been fixed, you’ll probably have to fix it again. But just like Olivia, I almost always win.
4. I’m All about the Patient and Olivia is All about the Client
Quality patient care is a continuous cycle that affects everyone involved. I obviously want our patients to be satisfied with their treatment, I want us to be financially able to provide the kind of treatment that will satisfy them, and I want them to feel heard and valued. That means it’s my job to interact with them in a way that will allow them to feel as though our clinic deserves high praise when patient satisfaction survey time (or HCAHPS) comes around. So, just like Olivia Pope is all about the client, I am all about the patient. Because they are why we do what we do, and we can’t help them properly without their support. The higher our score, the more funding we have to make a positive difference in their life.
5. I Stay Stocked Up on Wine (for Those Extra Long Days)
I’ve pretty much loved wine since I was of legal drinking age, but since I started working in healthcare administration I’ve definitely noticed an increase in my wine intake. Nothing outrageous, of course, but my job is relatively high stress — and like Olivia Pope, I’ve found that a nice glass of red wine after a hard day really hits the spot.
6. I Work With an Excellent Team
I don’t think my fellow staff members would let me get away with calling them gladiators in scrubs — but like Olivia Pope I really am surrounded by an exceptionally talented, supportive group of people at work. Additionally, just like Olivia Pope hand-picked each one of her gladiators and worked with them to enhance their strengths and diminish their weaknesses over time, I know that many healthcare organizations leverage behavioral science through the use of pre-hire behavioral assessments to do the same thing with their employees.
7. Privacy and Discretion for Our Patients is Not Optional
Federal HIPAA laws and privacy practices make this item in my list a given, but respecting a patient’s privacy should be about more than the law. I care about each and every one of our patients’ privacy, and they should be able to count on my discretion, not simply because it’s required of me, but because it’s considerate. It’s the right thing to do. Just as Olivia Pope promises to keep her clients’ secrets no matter what. I not only need to because it’s my job, but I genuinely want to keep their privacy intact.
I may not be a professional fixer for the President of The United States and everyone else in D.C., but I really do feel like Olivia Pope on a daily basis, based upon the fact that she will only accept the best from herself and for her clients. I think it’s safe to say anyone who has, does, or will work in healthcare administration strives to do the exact same thing in their professional lives — I know I do.