The journey is just as important as the destination. Let your passion find your purpose and lead the way. Join us on this inspiring episode as we hear the incredible journey of Jeannie Nguyen, a former nurse turned Women’s Health Medical Sales Professional and health promotion advocate. She reveals the pivotal moment that led her to make this career shift, emphasizing the importance of aligning your work with your core beliefs and values. She also shares the challenges she faced during her transition, from managing clinical expectations to finding the perfect work-life balance. Jeannie acknowledges the difficulty for anyone considering a similar path, but she also testifies how much it will all be worth it. She emphasizes the need to set boundaries and learn to think strategically in getting there, too. Listen to Jeannie’s story and discover the wonders of pursuing your passion.
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From Nurse To Women’s Health Medical Sales Professional With Jeannie Nguyen
We have with us another special guest by the name of Jeannie Nguyen. Jeannie is an account executive for a large Fortune 500 service provider that offers home-based care to patients. I’m not going to give you all the juicy details. I’m going to save it for the interview. What you do need to know is Jeannie was a nurse. She was a nurse who translated her skillset into being a very effective and high-performing medical sales professional.
For all of you clinicians out there, nurses, OTs, PTs, chiropractors, and the like, medical sales is a fascinating opportunity if you want to stop bedside care or work directly with patient care. If you’re looking for an opportunity to get yourself into a career that allows you to develop relationships with providers and in some cases, patients, but operating with the promotion of a service or promotion of a product, then look no further, Medical Sales is for you. If you’re tuning in to this show and I know you’ve at least been entertaining the idea, I hope this episode speaks to you. We do our best to bring you guests who represent this population of people.
Ever since COVID or even before COVID, I think COVID magnified the sentiment that there’s a lot of burnout out there. If you’re not burnt out and you’re taking care of patients, more power to you. If you are, there’s no need to feel like there’s nothing you can do about it. I believe that’s what this industry offers. Let me get off my soapbox because you didn’t come here to hear me give you my thoughts. You came here to listen to me talk to fascinating guests who are doing innovative things in the medical sales space. That’s exactly what you’re going to get. As always, thank you for tuning in to the Medical Sales show. I do hope you enjoy this interview.
Jeannie, how are you doing?
I’m good. How are you?
I’m fantastic. Why don’t you tell the audience who you are and what you do?
My name is Jeannie. I’m a nurse by background.
Let’s talk about Optum’s OB Homecare. What exactly is that? Before you get started, what is Optum, and then tell us.
Optum is a large Fortune 500 company. It’s part of the UnitedHealth Group umbrella. Optum has a very many different levels and industries within itself, but it’s about health promotion and providing healthcare services to patients, whether it’s on the care plan side or other types of services. Within the Optum that I’m currently working in, it’s for health promotion. It’s to help women obstetrical women during their pregnancy if they have any needs.
What location do you work out of with Optum? Is it that way?
It’s remote. They are headquartered in Minneapolis. This is a remote type of role where you have a regional sales director house somewhere and there’s a team. We’re all based out of different regions but essentially, I am based here in my house.
You’re selling health promotion. Is that right?
Give us more details. What’s health promotion?
In the role that I have now, it’s health promotion for women during pregnancy. A lot of times, patients may have nausea and vomiting, and they may not obtain the nutrition that they need. We can provide services that can help these moms to help reduce their nausea and intake more nutrition and food during their pregnancy. Also, patients who may have elevated blood pressure may be at risk for something called preeclampsia and diabetes, like gestational diabetes for moms. I offer those types of services. We can offer those services for providers to help monitor these moms throughout their pregnancy for the safe delivery of their babies.
Give us a day in the life. I’m trying to picture how you’re doing this remotely. Walk us through it. You’re waking up at what time? Walk us through the whole sequence.
This role is new to me. I wake up in the morning and plan my day. I preplan the territory, and what type of provider offices or hospitals I’m going to go to, and help them understand the market and what I have within Optum Health promotion to offer for their moms and their patients. You go into these accounts and set up meetings. I might provide lunches to do an in-service and talk about the services that we have for their moms. A lot of the time, there’s traveling involved. For me, it’s a lot of driving. My territory is driving-based. It’s planning the days, going out to provider offices, marketing, and driving business development with these providers or the obstetrical doctors.
You’re remote. Would you say that for the majority of your day, you’re on the road? Would you say the majority of the day, you’re behind the computer?
I would say probably 70% to 80% is on the road and the rest would be on the computer to plan the rest of my week.
How does it work? Are you a solo person in your territory doing a thing? Do you have a team you work with? What is the setup?
I am solo. I’m based out of Texas, but I have a large territory. We have other reps within the state as well but we work solo. You’re in charge of your own account.
Who are your main call points?
My main call points are provider offices, hospitals, and case managers.
In the provider offices, you develop a relationship with the entire account. Was it always the provider that’s the decision maker or does it sometimes fall on someone else?
It’s mainly the providers and whoever in their office helps facilitate any services for their patients. It could be a nurse in the office, a medical assistant, or maybe an office coordinator as well. It depends on the office itself, how it’s set up, and how large they are.
Talk to us about what this career in the medical sales space could look like for someone who’s coming from a different industry. Maybe they don’t have a lot of work experience or they’re a fresh graduate. They’re tuning in to this episode and they’re saying, “That sounds interesting. I would love to be behind the progress of making sure women who are pregnant are having healthy terms.” Talk to us about what that looks like for someone who’s naive to this.
For this type of industry that’s more health promotion or service-based, it depends on the person and how they gravitate towards building businesses. It’s more of a relationship. You are creating relationships with these providers for a good cause. If you’re completely out-of-side of this industry and you want to provide some type of service that feels good to you, if it feels good to you, then that’s a good reason, as in a why. It’s not necessarily selling. It’s about building relationships.
That’s how you have to think about it when you go into this side of sales. It’s like, “I’m your friend. I’m going to help you along the way in a consultative type way. It’s not, “I have a product for you and I want you to use it.” It’s, “This is what I believe in.” If someone comes into this industry, it has to be something that they truly believe in. They can convey the fact that it can revolve around what you have and tell a story about it to have providers or whoever needs to know about it to use that product or service.
When it comes to the type of person you should be, we understand that anyone who’s entertaining any kind of medical sales, they got to be able to develop relationships and enjoy doing that. Let’s go deeper into this. If you think of it as you have your medical device sales reps, your pharmaceutical sales reps, your diagnostic sales reps, and then you have these service-based sales reps like yourself, what would you say is unique to what you do and the type of person you need to be if you want to thrive in this space?
You have to have a love for people and be compassionate about what you do to do this. You need to be able to have the grind and be responsible to grind and get your numbers. You also have to have that soft and compassionate peace where you find a reason why this is good for you. I can’t do hardcore sales. I feel like if you’re the type of person who’s more compelled to have a connection, then service types of businesses are a perfect fit for those.
Talk to us about how you found this. What were you doing before you entered this space? Take us to college. What’s in the mind and what are the plans?
I went to college with Business as a Marketing degree. I worked for a little bit. It came to the point where I started realizing what the healthcare system offered. I’ve never been to a hospital before. I eventually had my father. My father went into the hospital and I started noticing how nurses interacted with the patients and the type of care they gave. I was never exposed to it. I was in my 20s and I was like, “This is what a nurse does? I’ve never even seen a nurse in my life.” It then started intriguing me. I started to go and take a few classes while I was working. I then quit my corporate job and I went into Nursing for a second degree. I totally did the transition over to nursing.
What was that like?
It was very difficult to do this entire shift in the middle of being an adult already and then thinking, “I don’t know what I want to do with myself. I think I love nursing. I found the sign but it was late and I’m going to follow it.”
That’s a beautiful experience to have. I want you to take us back to when you realized that you wanted to be a nurse. You went for it, you went to school, and then you became a nurse. Did you ever have a moment where you said, in the middle of whatever you were doing as a nurse, “I’m here. I’m doing this thing. It’s exactly what I thought” or not?
To be honest, I went in and I’m like, “I’m a nurse. I graduated. I’m doing all these things.” Reality then hit me and I’m like, “I don’t like any of this. This is not meant for me.”
How long did that take?
It took 3 or 4 years. I was trapped. I was like, “This is not fun.” Real talk, I was like, “This is not what I envisioned. This is not in all its glory.” I got burned. I love the fact that I’m a nurse and I know I had to go through all that, but I’m like, “I need to find another reason. I need another sign to tell me that I can still be a nurse, but not the type of nurse I was doing.” I was working at the bedside at the hospital and I’m like, “I cannot sustain this until I retire. My body physically cannot sustain this.” That’s what I thought.
What did you start thinking you need to do? Where did you start finding this out into this wonderful opportunity that you have today?
I started looking around. I enrolled in a Master’s program. I was going to be a nurse practitioner because I needed to find a way to get out of doing the physical work of being a nurse. While I did that, I was praying a lot. I looked for jobs everywhere. I didn’t know where I was looking at. I had a friend who worked in pharma as a nurse educator. She told me, “You would be great at this. You’ve got a marketing background.” I didn’t know where to look. I had no idea what the positions were called. I was blindly applying everywhere. I then landed myself a role at an infusion pharmacy at first. At that end, it’s almost like a Hail Mary. It’s like, “I’m going to give it all I got. I got to do this because I’m in school right now to be a nurse practitioner and I don’t even know if I want to be a nurse.” That’s how it happened. I transitioned over as a clinical liaison for a pharmacy.
It’s funny you say that because, believe it or not, we have a lot of clients who are nurses that they feel it’s either, “I’d be a nurse practitioner or I explore something else.” When they find us and ultimately decide to enroll in our program to get a medical sales position, they’re thinking, “I don’t know what else is out there, but it’s either nurse practitioner or whatever else is out there.” What you’re explaining is exactly what we see.
It almost feels bad, but then I’m like, “I cannot feel bad anymore. This is how I feel.” It’s not for everybody. I enjoyed it when I did it, but I knew that I would not sustain my mental health or my physical health doing nursing at the hospital. That was it for me.
You did get a Master’s degree?
I dropped out in my second semester when I got the offer. I got the offer letter. I started in January. I withdrew for that semester. I was like, “Now, I’m making more money as a nurse practitioner and I didn’t even have to pay for that student debt.”
I bring it up because you have quite the pedigree. Marketing, business, actual bedside nursing, and back into a position where you can utilize marketing and bedside nursing. That’s a beautiful place to be. You’re able to capitalize on what you’ve been able to do while in school. How do you make this all work? You were a busy nurse. You’re now a busy sales rep. I’m sure you have a family. Talk to us about how you balance life and make it all work. Is there no balance and you’re trying to make it happen each day? Break it down for us.
I have complete balance right now and I am completely at peace. I have a family. To me, family comes first. My children are still small, so they come first.
I have two and they’re in grade school. A lot of times, this type of position allows the flexibility that I can plan my weeks out. I love the fact that I can plan my weeks out. If I know that I’m going to be on the road and I’m going to be seeing all of these accounts, I’m going to go do all of them. If I know that one day my child might have an event at school and I need to be there at 2:30, I know that I can do everything else on all the other days and plan that time slot so that I can be with them for that time. It’s the balance for me that drives me to this type of sales.
Give us a story where you got to see the fruits of your labor with this position. I don’t mean your compensation side. I mean you learned about the impact you had by selling a certain office on one of your services. Talk to us a little bit about that.
I have probably a lot of stories. When I was working as a nurse at the infusion pharmacy, a lot of times, the selling came from the key account executive, but then the selling also came from the clinical support standpoint where I had a lot of patient interactions. I would have patients that I’m helping educate them to be their own advocate once they get out of the hospital and they’re receiving packages of medications, like tons of IV medication.
They’re like, “What am I supposed to do with all this?” I feel like I’ve built relationships with the patients to the point where they would call me even when they’re no longer on the medication. They would say, “Thank you for everything that you’ve done because I was able to be out of the hospital. I don’t need to be in a hospital for six weeks to get IV medication. You taught me and gave me the support that I was able to do it on my own in my home.”
That’s the key of it all. There are so many stories that I could tell you where patients thrive. They can advocate and do things for themselves, and all they need is support. Teaching them and having them do it was the most valuable part of that job for me because I always felt that I still had that human connection with these patients. That’s what a lot of nurses love. It’s that human touch. I need to know still that I’m providing that wholesome care to someone, even if it’s selling something. It’s helping them live longer because they’re healthier or this could be a transition for them.
It might be something where they’re near the end of life, but I’m providing them and educating them on how to provide nutrition to themselves intravenously so that they can live at home and be with their family before they pass. “I don’t want to be in the hospital just because I can’t eat. Teach me how to do it and let me be with my family before I pass.” It’s that kind of thing.
With this position, what would you say the top three challenges are?
The top three challenges are turning off my clinical hat sometimes and trying to think strategically to drive the goals that I’m given. That’s going to be one of them because as a nurse at heart, sometimes you want to do the best, but it may not be the best for business.
Give me an example.
There may be times when you have a patient and you want to go the extra mile for them, but business-wise, we cannot take this patient. We can’t accept this patient because we don’t take that insurance, for example. As a nurse, I see the patient and I’m like, “I need to do everything I can to help them, but I don’t even know. I’m going to call a competitor who can service them.” I’ll do that. It’s almost partnering with competitors that can take the patients. They don’t teach you to do that all the time in a sales role, but you do it because you know it’s right for the patient and they need that service. Whether you can supply it or not, you’ll find someone else to supply it for them.
Your heart is in the absolute right place. That’s wonderful to hear. Give us two more.
Also, it is managing the time. I feel like as a nurse, I’m used to getting orders and the task and then I do them. Being on the sales side, you have to be more strategic as well. You cannot be told what to do every single day. You have to be able to do it on your own. You’re given resources to excel and you utilize whatever resource that you need to get your job done or to build business. You’re not going to be handheld. You’re not going to have someone to sit there every single day and micromanage you. I don’t think sales is for any type of micromanagement. You’re on your own and you drive your own growth. If you don’t, then it’s not a fit for you. As a person coming into this profession, you have to know how to use whatever resources you have, go with it, figure it out, and solve the problem.Sales may not be for any type of micromanagement. You're literally on your own and you drop your own growth. If you don't, then it's not a fit for you. Click To Tweet
Number one is to keep off the nurse hat and think strategically. That’s one of the challenges. Number two, be ready to solve the problem. That’s what you just explained. What’s number three?
Number three is to set your boundaries. As a clinician going into this, at first, I would get myself burnt out because I didn’t know how to set my boundaries. I’m in the sales department. What I do is what I do. When it comes to the patient moving over to being serviced maybe on the clinical side, I want to extend and offer my help that’s outside of my boundaries, and then you get burnout.
Tell us what does that look like? Does that look like a provider calling on you because they’re looking for insight from you as a nurse? Does that look like something else? What does not having a boundary and going a little bit over that look like?
An example would be on the weekend, let’s say I had a provider or a case manager call me and they’re like, “This patient needs to leave.” I know for a fact that we don’t work on Saturday and Sunday. We’re not open on Saturday and Sunday. Insurance isn’t open on Saturday or Sunday. What I want to do to go the extra mile is take my time when I’m not supposed to be working and I still work up a referral. I will run to the hospital because I know that I can still see this patient so they can leave.
I would do that because sometimes the patient is like, “I need to go home. My ride will be here on Sunday.” I’m like, “No one works on Sunday, but let me go up there and I will educate you and tell you about our business. You’ve already accepted the service and we’ll work on everything on Monday.” Sunday is my day off. I’m not working and we’re not open, but I’m going to overextend myself. A lot of times, going into this business, you have to set your own boundaries too. If not, especially being a clinician going in, you may be used because you are wearing both hats.Going into the clinician business, you have to set your own boundaries. Click To Tweet
What specifically have you done to mitigate this and set those boundaries?
I put my phone on Do Not Disturb at 6:00 PM because I would get calls at midnight even from patients who would call me and have a question. I’m like, “You have a phone number to call. It’s a 1-800. It’s a main number that has a nursing triage line for you to call.” The patient knows that I’m the nurse though and they saw me because I could have been educating them maybe on the service that we offer and the patients will call me. The best thing I did for myself was putting my phone on Do Not Disturb on weekends. I had to do it.
It works. That’s the reality. It works. We’re going to be wrapping this up soon, but I want to understand something. What I love about your story, Jeannie, is whenever you feel moved to explore something, it sounds like you’ve been doing that ever since you graduated college. You’ve been consistent and it’s led you to where you know you’re supposed to be. What would you say is the driving force behind that? Do you have a life philosophy or something that grounds you or sustains you? If you don’t, that’s fine, but if you do, please share.
I actually don’t. My thoughts always are constant and I always feel like I need to go with what feels good for me at that time. I don’t ever want to feel trapped. Every time I had the feeling of feeling trapped, I kept thinking about how to get out of it and I moved towards that feeling because I didn’t want to have negativity or anything that I disliked. I want to be able to do something, enjoy what I’m doing when I’m doing it, and make a purpose for myself. Also, I am positive around the people I’m with. Whether it’s my family, my children, or my colleagues, I want to feel good. Every time I have a good feeling, I go towards that feeling.
You keep it simple. Is there anything you’d like to leave with people who are tuning in to this episode right now and they’re saying to themselves, “This is so cool. I have to explore this.” As they prepare to explore it, is there anything you’d want to share with anybody who’s considering being in your space?
If they feel like they want to be in this space, it’s possible. I’m not saying it’s not difficult, but it’s definitely possible. For a lot of clinicians feeling what I felt previously, which was burnout, all you have to do is open your eyes and look for resources because there are resources everywhere. Utilize that to go towards their good feeling.
I couldn’t have said it better. Jeannie, are you ready for the lightning wrap?
I ask the questions here. First question. What’s the best book you’ve read in the last six months?
I’m going to be honest with you, in the last six months, the only books I’ve ever read are children’s books. They’re Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems for my children. They love it. It’s super funny. That’s all we’ve been reading for the last six months.
How does Mo Williams compare to Dr. Seuss?
They’re shorter, so I like that because those Dr. Seuss are very long before bedtime.
I have too. I completely understand that.
They’re like, “You skipped three pages.”
Best movie or TV show that you’ve seen in the last six months?
I watched Barbie and that was a very good movie.
I haven’t seen it, but talk about a polarizing film. I hear all kinds of things, but I have not seen them yet.
It’s all about empowerment and I’m all for it. TV shows, I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t read, I don’t watch TV, and I don’t watch movies. If it’s on because someone is watching it, I will watch it in the pastime, but it’s whatever the kids have on TV.
This is veering off. When you’re not playing with kids, you’re not working, and you’re not spending time with your significant other, what are you doing?
I am on social media.
As an influencer?
Yeah, I am. I’m on it or I’m scrolling.
You have to tell the audience what your platform is. I can’t believe we missed mentioning this. What is your platform?
I like to post videos and content on TikTok mostly, and sometimes on Instagram about what it’s like to be a nurse in sales.
Next question, what’s the best meal you’ve had in the last six months?
I don’t know if you’ve ever had hot pot. I’m Asian and we love soups. Hot pot is delicious and yummy where you have pots of broth, different flavors of broth. We have different meats. It could be like wagyu meat, pork belly, crab, and plates of vegetables like cabbage and mushrooms. Everyone sits as a family and we all put our food into the broth, take it out, and eat it with noodles.
Where can someone get this hot pot experience?
I’m from Texas. Houston has tons of hot pot restaurants everywhere. You could also make it at home. Broth with whatever your favorite meats and vegetables are and you make a meal out of it.
Just in case, for those in Texas and for those that might be going to Texas, what is the best restaurant to get a hot pot dish or at least one that you endorse?
Shabby Square in Houston, Texas. Last question. What’s the best experience you’ve had in the last six months?
Do you mean on a professional level?
Any level you want to share. I want the best. Whatever it is.
My best experience, I recently transitioned over to a new sales role, which is what I’m in now. The experience started with when I was a nurse in the clinic and I made friends with a sales rep there. I followed him. We’ve been friends on LinkedIn. We’ve been friends on Facebook. When he retired, because he’s been there for that long, I scooped in and I took his job. I feel like I’ve made a whole 360 with that.
That’s such a natural progression. That’s wonderful. Jeannie, where can people find you on TikTok? What’s your handle?
It is @NurseJeanStar.
Make sure you guys see that. Jeannie, it was wonderful having you on the show. We’ve learned so much about this space and we can’t wait to see the wonderful things you continue to do in healthcare service sales.
That was Jeannie. Fascinating story. I can’t say it enough. She was able to leverage her skills as a clinician into a career that she absolutely loves. For any of you tuning in, regardless of what type of clinician you are or even if you’re not a clinician, but especially for those of you that this episode spoke to, you can do the same. You don’t need to guess, wonder, or try in vain. You can do the same in an extremely powerful way that works.
You already know what I’m going to say. If you’ve tuned in to these shows for any period of time, then I’m going to do what we need to do. The number one thing that I hear anyway when it comes to clients of ours attaining a medical sales position is, “Samuel, why didn’t you guys find me sooner?” We probably hear that more than we hear anything else. What does that say? That says there are a lot of people out there that want to show up differently. They want to step into an opportunity that can give them an entirely new life, that can reward them for their impact, that can allow them to utilize this amazing skillset they were trained for, and that can allow them to exercise a work and life balance that you can only dream of.
This is medical sales. This is what healthcare sales do. That’s what it offers. Stop wondering, stop hoping, stop thinking, and let’s step into some action. Go to our website, EvolveYourSuccess.com, fill out the application, and have a conversation with one of our account executives. Let us show you what life can look like. As always, we do our best to bring you innovative guests who are doing things differently in the medical sales space. Make sure you tune in next week for another episode of the Medical Sales show.
- Jeannie Nguyen – LinkedIn
- @NurseJeanStar – TikTok
- Elephant and Piggie
About Jeannie Nguyen
Jeannie Nguyen, a healthcare sales expert, who brings a unique blend of clinical knowledge and sales acumen, and a passion for creating remarkable healthcare experiences.
Jeannie’s journey began as a nurse, where she honed her clinical skills and found herself at the heart of a specialty infusion company that specialized in delivering intricate pharmaceutical products and clinical services to patients, all outside the confines of a hospital. With a booming bio-pharmaceutical pipeline of infusible and injectable medications and an aging population, Jeannie saw the opportunity to make a real impact.
Jeannie now thrives as an Account Executive for a large Fortune 500 service provider who offers home-based care services to obstetrical patients.
But Jeannie’s more than just a medical sales pro; she offers invaluable insights on how nurses and those with clinical backgrounds cannot only survive but thrive in the intricate world of medical sales.
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