Today’s guest has built an impressive career in the healthcare industry by taking risks and believing in herself. Jess Horwitz is the VP of Clinical Operations & Virtual Care of Tia, a hip, new, venture-backed company that is transforming and modernizing women’s health.
Jess took us all the way back to the very beginning of her non-linear path to healthcare, starting with a role at a nonprofit and later working for the American Academy of Pediatrics, before going back to school to become a nurse practitioner. All along the way, her passion for public health, scaling clinical teams and helping people live healthier lives was front and center.
How Jess built her budding healthcare career from the ground up.
Jess’s career today is a unique blend of healthcare, operations, and execution, but you’d almost never expect she’d be where she is today, working for a modern healthcare company with a degree in journalism and communications.
After working at a nonprofit that created digital content for children battling chronic illnesses, she landed a role at the American Academy of Pediatrics, building programs for pediatric residents, teaching them how to talk to kids. Through this work, she had her aha moment, where she knew she wanted to do more than just talk about healthcare. She wanted to be in the exam room!
Going back to school, Jess became a nurse practitioner with a niche in adolescent medicine, and later, HIV medicine. A golden opportunity landed where she was asked to take the lead on a clinic expansion project and help grow and manage the clinicians there.
But before even walking into that first class, she had to check her ego at the door. Yes, she was passionate about these topics and inspired, yet she knew if she walked into her anatomy class and fell flat on her face, the risk was worth it. We have the privilege to try new things and make choices and it’s a beautiful thing.
Building a strong network is the cornerstone of securing the best job opportunities.
Nabbing a prominent role at Tia happened almost serendipitously for Jess. She recalled a moment when she was sitting on a panel with Carolyn Witte, the co-founder and CEO of Tia, and found herself completely engrossed in her passion and vision to create a modern medical home for women.
It wasn’t until over a year later that their paths crossed again and Jess began exploring what it could be like to work with her. With a Series A on the horizon and a drive to take their growth to the next level, it was an opportune time to join the team. And in the midst of it all, COVID happened, which raised so many questions:
How do you provide care when going to a physical space isn’t an option?
How do we change the modern medical system for women?
What does “high quality virtual care” actually mean, and how does that start during a pandemic?
As you can expect, Jess had to be nimble and flexible as she navigated a new role completely virtually. She feels it helped many leaders in her company flourish, as location was no longer a barrier and they could step up and take ownership in ways they otherwise couldn’t.
Tia is always thinking several steps ahead. As they think about continuing to create meaningful virtual experiences in healthcare, their goal is to make a positive impact on their patients’ lives while improving health outcomes.
The unique challenges Jess faces as a VP of Clinical Operations & Virtual Care.
While many of the clinicians Jess brings onboard are not coming from a tech or venture-backed background, there’s an enormous amount of synergy in the sense that deep down, clinicians want to be innovative, do good in the world, and connect more with their patients. They’re excited to join Tia. They don’t want to feel like they’re part of a machine.
It’s an interesting situation, given how much of healthcare is very evidence-based and tried and true. Tia still wants to lean heavily on their clinicians’ expertise as they are a healthcare company first and foremost, but they also want to build minimum viable products, iterate as they go, and move quickly. They want to run with ideas, and start over if they don’t work, and break the things that need to be broken, like the paternalistic view some have of the healthcare system.
Jess closed the conversation by sharing the best advice she’s been given on her career journey to date, which is this: figure out where your skills can do the greatest good in the world. Allow that to motivate you and inspire your next adventure.
“We have to be able to make choices and take risks and try things differently, and bob and weave with our careers.”