Interview with Dr. Krystal Sodaitis
On this week’s podcast episode, I have the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Krystal Sodaitis, who has found that coaching helps bring balance to her life. Like my previous guest, she is a member of the Physician Nonclinical Career Hunters Facebook group where she shares what she has learned with other members.
Krystal is a UM Medical Director who offers a fascinating new perspective on the process of transitioning from clinical work into her UM role. Also a certified weight and life coach, Krystal shares her experiences as a coach for the gifted. And she provides insight into how to integrate a successful side gig.
Dr. Sodaitis completed a general pediatrics residency from the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, GA, an Academic General Pediatrics fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and a master’s of public health from the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston.
Her fellowship involved training residents on patient management, including the history of health plans and the difference between HMOs and PPOs. From that moment, she fell in love with the world of health insurance.
She is also a fellow of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and a Certified Health Insurance Executive.
Prior to moving into her current role, she had a 15-year career in Academic General Pediatrics, which included serving as the clinical chief of the division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also worked as the Medical Director of the Mother-Baby Unit at the Children’s Hospital of the University of Illinois.
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The Search for a New Career Begins
While in her faculty position in Chicago, she searched for ‘Medical Directors Chicago Area’. A Utilization Management Medical Director position caught her eye and she decided to apply for it. “I didn’t even realize that positions like that existed. It was perfect for me,” Krystal explained.
Unfortunately, she was not qualified for the position just yet. Galvanized by the knowledge that the position was out there, she began her mission to become qualified for such a position.
Over the next 15 months, Krystal attended the American Association for Physician Leadership (AAPL) conference and took a seminar, as well as an online course. She joined the Utilization Management committee at her hospital, and she acquired her Yellow Belt Lean Certification from the International Association of Six Sigma Certification (IASSC).
Networking Yields a Lead
After a torrid 15 months of growing her leadership and management skillset, a friend who knew about her career goals forwarded her a posting for the medical director position that she ultimately landed.
Krystal is now a medical director with Aetna. With extensive pediatric and neonatal experience, she serves as a pediatric subject matter expert for Aetna’s Clinical Policy Unit.
Despite her background in pediatrics, she found herself dealing with a wide variety of patients in her first role as a medical director. She split the organization’s Medicare membership with another physician, placing her out of her comfort zone and challenging herself in new ways. “I did everything. In medicine, the one constant is change.”
The diverse challenges of the role put her back in touch with her love of medicine and reinvigorated her love of learning. “One of the things I love most about my job is how much I get to learn every day.”
No Looking Back
Now, Krystal doesn’t look back. One thing she really doesn’t miss about her clinical and academic work is carrying the weight of patients around with her. “You don’t even realize you carry that weight around until it’s gone.”
She loves her new work and is excited to pursue leadership roles within her organization. To that end, she recently became a certified life and weight coach, with the goal of incorporating those tools into her leadership style. However, it also opened up a new avenue in her professional life in the form of a fascinating side gig.
In March of 2019, Krystal completed a certification in life and weight coaching from The Life Coach School (Allen, Tx). As someone who has always been fascinated by the gifted community, particularly gifted adolescents, Krystal saw an opportunity to put her new life coach skills to work in a much-needed way.
There are lots of resources to educate parents of gifted children about how to accelerate them. However, there are limited options for gifted children and young adults who are underachieving or experience anxiety and depression. With the goal of providing those gifted young adults and their parents with the tools to manage their intelligence and emotional balance, Krystal founded Life Coaching for Gifted.
As with so many of our guests, Krystal is yet another example of how easy and successful a transition to a non-clinical career can be if you take the time to identify what you want and go after it with a plan in place. Identify what you love about your work, talk to experts and colleagues in fields that will let you pursue that, and put together a plan of action. “Don’t be in a rush. You really want to find something that calls to you.”
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Thanks to our sponsor…
Thanks to the UT Physician Executive MBA program for sponsoring the show. It’s an outstanding, highly rated, MBA program designed for working physicians. It might be just what you need to prepare for that joyful, well-paying career. You can find out more at vitalpe.net/physicianmba.
I hope to see you next time on the PNC Podcast.
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The opinions expressed here are mine and my guest’s. While the information provided on the podcast is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge, there is no express or implied guarantee that using the methods discussed here will lead to success in your career, life or business.
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The information presented on this blog and related podcast is for entertainment and/or informational purposes only. It should not be construed as medical, legal, tax, or emotional advice. If you take action on the information provided on the blog or podcast, it is at your own risk. Always consult an attorney, accountant, career counsellor, or other professional before making any major decisions about your career.
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