January 15, 2019

Career Path: Danielle Oaks, Senior Clinical Progams Manager at Wellframe

What do the career path and day-in-the-life look like for a Clinical Programs Manager at Wellframe?

We connected with Danielle Oaks to find out!

Also, Wellframe is hiring! Click here for all of the company's job openings.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in coastal southern Rhode Island.

Where did you go to college? What did you study and where did you end up after school?

University of Rhode Island to get my BA in Communication Studies. I also have a Master's in Public Administration (MPA). My first job after graduate school was with the Boston Public Health Commission's HIV/AIDS Services Division. I had a very diverse team of colleagues in terms of backgrounds and skill sets; I learned so much from them in that first role in the professional world.

What led you to your current role?

Within my role with the Boston Public Health Commission, I worked with a social services agency that served deaf consumers. It was my first time learning about that population, which is typically underserved and underresourced, especially when it comes to healthcare.

I eventually went back to school to become a sign language interpreter, and ended up working as a freelance medical interpreter. Sitting in doctor's offices and hospitals with patients, I saw the intersection of patients with low health literacy and clinicians juggling competing demands throughout the day. I wanted to work on creating and disseminating accessible, plain language health education so patients could be more empowered to take their health into their hands.

I saw an opportunity at Wellframe to be able to "say" to a larger patient population what I've wanted to say to the patients I've worked with: "Ask lots of questions. Write things down. Managing your healthcare can be so overwhelming." Because Wellframe creates a strong link between patients and their care team via the app's chat function, patients can begin growing in those self-advocating practices right in the app.

What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?

Somewhere along the way, I learned to not worry so much about having a traditional career path. I have pursued opportunities based on my passion and curiosity. I also believe that my professional life is one way I live out my personal value of altruism, so I have followed that non-traditional path to places where I've seen a need for more equity in our healthcare system.

At 29, I left my job to travel around the world for a year. Though I knew it was a key time for me to continue advancing in my career, I also knew that I wouldn't have many opportunities for an adventure like that again. That year challenged and stretched me in myriad ways I apply to my daily work. So while I thought I was "taking a break" from my career, I was actually having experiences that would support and empower my future self.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Clinical Programs Manager at Wellframe?

Overall, I ensure that our condition-based clinical programs for use in the Wellframe app are delivered on-time and in-scope to our clients.

I supervise the development and maintenance of our programs and the project management processes that keep our team on track.

I also develop, document, and ensure the consistent use of our Wellframe style, voice, formatting, and health literacy/plain language conventions across our app content.

Any tips for someone considering a career in Project Management?

Listen to your colleagues. They can share valuable information on what they need to be successful so that you can iterate upon project management processes in ways that work for the team across the board. A project manager's role within a team is truly symbiotic: When everyone has what they need to do their job well, the project manager has succeeded!

Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Creme de la Earl Grey tea. Black and strong.

What time do you get into the office?

Between 8 and 9 AM.

What are three things that motivate you in your role?

  • My colleagues! They are a multidisciplinary team of brilliant, committed, all-stars.

  • Our app users. When our services team shares quotes from them about how they're using Wellframe to reach their health goals, I melt.

  • The mantra "health literacy for health equity". One of the things I love most about my role is my responsibility to ensure our content is accessible to everyone. Many populations experience gross health disparities in our country, and through providing plain language content at low reading levels, we can do our part to even out the playing field.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

Our team works at a fast pace, so a fair bit of my day is responding quickly to project updates, questions, or emails in order to keep things moving. On a typical day, my chunks of work may include: reviewing or editing new program articles, writing requirements for improvements to our Content Management System, outlining and prioritizing work for our remote medical writers, or planning out and whiteboarding our next month of projects and deadlines as a team.

What time do you head out of the office?

Somewhere between 5:00 and 7:00.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I typically shut work off completely when I'm home, unless there's a non-negotiable deadline.

Any productivity hacks?

When I'm having a productivity slump, I use the Pomodoro technique. I use the Tomato One app to time my work intervals and short breaks. Typically 25 min of focused work followed by a 5 min get-up-from-my-desk break.

I'm also not above bribing myself with the thought of an afternoon iced coffee break if I meet my productivity goals.

What are the three apps that you can’t live without?

  • Wunderlist. I'm a big believer in the power of checklists.

  • Flour Bakery. Ordering online and counter pick-up on the way into the office is a game-changer.

  • Weather. I'm a bike commuter.

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

Coming to Wellframe in the early days (25 employees) and advocating from day one that we need to have a solid health communications strategy to ensure equitable access to health education across all our populations. Now we have a comprehensive style guide, a team of medical writers trained in our approach to plain language and design principles, and we begin talking about health literacy early in the process with prospective clients.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

I have some dear friends who are knocking it out of the park in their respective careers. I've worked with them all at one point or another, whether professionally or in volunteer work, and I don't hesitate to call them for advice or commiseration when faced with a work challenge.

Colin Barry is an Editor & Staff Writer to VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter @ColinKrash

Images courtesy of Danielle Oaks

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