From care management patient to clinical services director: An interview with Regence employee Jamie Halstead
Main photo: Jamie Halstead, left, with a team of masked Regence care managers
Jamie Halstead always wanted to be a nurse. Helping people—especially during challenging times—has been a life-long passion. In 2000, Jamie graduated from nursing school at Walla Walla Community College and began a nearly 20-year career (and counting) in health care. She’s had many roles the last two decades, including helping to deliver hundreds of babies, and Jamie’s passion remains grounded in caring for people throughout their health care journeys. We spoke with Jamie to learn more about her work. Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
What made you decide to pursue a career in nursing?
I’ve always felt there was something special about being a nurse and having the opportunity to help people. Even at a young age, I remember wanting to be a nurse even though I didn’t understand what all that would mean in the real world. Looking back, I feel lucky to have a chance to support others when they’re not at their best while working through personal health care issues.
How did you start your career in nursing?
After graduating from nursing school in 2000, I went straight to work in a labor and delivery unit based at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Idaho. The first eight years I helped deliver babies—this was long ago enough that each newborn was tracked with paper records. I don’t know the exact number of babies I helped deliver, but it was between 300 to 500 during that time. To this day I still cherish those moments bringing babies into the world.
During this same period, I also worked part time in the local pediatrics office, where I was able to learn about the importance of immunizations, annual check-ups and other ways to keep children healthy.
How did you end up working at Regence with care managers and clinical services?
I came to Regence after working with a care manager myself. In 2007 I gave birth to twins prematurely, and both newborns needed pretty intensive treatment after delivery. I ended up losing one of them after three days. During this time, Regence connected me with a care manager, who helped with transferring my daughter to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center since she wasn’t stable enough for discharge. In addition to coordinating transportation, my Regence care manager helped with setting up equipment at home to care for my child. Honestly, while I was a trained nurse with years of experience, a lot of your professional knowledge gets lost when you are personally faced with this kind of crisis. And I wasn’t aware that Regence hired trained nurses to help care for members in times of need.
Based on this experience, I started speaking with Regence nurses I knew through friends and colleagues to see how I could become one myself. I ended up joining Regence’s maternity program in 2007, providing members with education and support. It felt good to use my personal experience and professional skills to help Regence members in various ways. After four years in the maternity unit as a case manager, I became a supervisor, then higher-level manager, and eventually transitioned to my current role as director of clinical services. It’s been a very rewarding experience.
How would you describe your current role with Regence?
For me it’s about day-to-day accountability, making sure our care managers have the tools and resources they need to best serve our members. I primarily run the care management operations so our team can support the many different health care journeys that a patient can experience. It’s important to remember that when a health care crisis happens, life can quickly become scary and overwhelming—and that’s when we can step in to help.
I also spend a lot of time evaluating different health care programs and services and, ultimately decide what would be of most value to our members. This includes making sure I understand the latest trends and developments, so our care managers are prepared.
Why do you love working in care management and clinical services?
Our care managers work with some of the most challenging health care situations, where members are often dealing with extremely complex conditions that require a lot of support and resources. It’s some of the most challenging nursing or health care work I’ve done in my career, but also extremely rewarding. What keeps me coming back to work every day is knowing that we have a team that really cares and is empowered to advocate for our members. We have the privilege to help make our members’ health care journeys easier however we can.
Ultimately, nobody plans for a health care crisis and it can be overwhelming and scary—some people are very engaged in their health, others react by shutting down or becoming frustrated. As Regence care managers, we get to step in, build trust and help. Many people working in health care engage in point solutions or at specific moments, whereas our team gets to see the full picture and spectrum of what’s happening in our members’ health care journeys. We then can help put the pieces together and connect members with the resources they need, along with ongoing support. To be an effective care manager, you must be a good listener to understand the full situation. Yes, we have claims data and other information, but at the end of the day it comes down to really listening to the member to figure out an action plan. In many ways it can feel like being an investigator, while always keeping a clinical perspective in mind.
How do you like spending time outside of work?
I enjoy being with my family, which includes my daughters and husband. At this stage in life, it’s really all about work and family. We live in Lewiston, Idaho, and enjoy a pretty lowkey life in a smaller community. That said, we own a motor home and like to travel around on adventures in different places whenever we can.