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Debra Bartel, FACMPE

Deb Bartel


Clinic administrator, Portland Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, PC

Volunteer Roles: MGMA Alaska and Oregon State Liaison

Why did you decide to get involved with MGMA? 

It really all started at the state level.  We have some very motivated folks here in Oregon who were seriously involved with spreading the ACMPE word in our local management community.  They made sure everyone knew about certification and had study groups set up to help those of us new to clinic administration get through it.  I was already an MGMA member but focusing on the CMPE program and ultimately earning my Fellowship absolutely made me more aware of all MGMA and OMGMA have to offer.  Once I’d achieved CMPE and Fellowship, I knew how important mentorship was to me so I wanted to “pay it forward”.  I’ve been very involved at both the state and national level ever since.  This year I’ve had the opportunity to be a State Liaison for MGMA as well as Oregon’s ACMPE Forum Rep and hope to continue doing both over the next few years.

What do you find most rewarding about volunteering for MGMA?

I absolutely love sharing information with and learning from other members.  We cannot do our job alone or worse, in a vacuum.  Even when I’m asked to present on topics I’m familiar with, audience interaction always provides new information for me as well.  Along the same vein, I’m a teacher at heart – as were both my parents.  I truly enjoy sharing information and helping other people who are struggling with subjects or activities I’m comfortable with.

How did you decide that practice management was the career for you? 

Interesting question!  I certainly didn’t come out of high school thinking “Hey, I think I’ll be a Clinic Manager someday!”  I first headed towards general business and accounting – but discovered I really enjoyed doing the classwork and not the actual work.  As I mentioned, both my parents were lifelong public school teachers so that was my direction.  I ended up working more and leaving college without finishing either one.  I sort of fell into a data entry job at an orthopedic clinic and found I loved the subject and how you could use good computer tools to improve processes for both patients and fellow staff members.  Implementing a huge practice management system in a very large orthopedic clinic showed me where my future would be – and I was right.

What is the best tip you give to people who are just starting a career in practice management?

Get started building your peer network of experts.  You can’t know everything and the old adage “It’s not what you know but who you know” will serve you best as you grow in your career.  Things change so rapidly in healthcare and I don’t see it slowing down much.  If you can’t do it all, find a group of people and work together to get what you need.  Always keep in mind you are also an expert at some things in practice management so other peer network members need you, too.

What is your favorite book or website or resource for practice managers?

Honestly? It’s or any of the tributaries from it. Since everything eventually follows Medicare – it’s a great place to start for general information and too many people ignore it.  I’d have to say a close second or third are and for a wide variety of information and access to things a bit more targeted.  I just checked my Favorites items in my browser and discovered I have over 100.  At a glance, I use every single one of them at least once per month.  The ability to quickly access information is critical these days and if I lost this list of websites I’d be very, very sad!

How do you relax after a busy work week? 

I love to travel both locally and internationally but that certainly doesn’t happen every week.  I walk my dog; read a ton of both fiction and nonfiction; hang out with family and friends; go to the movies; golf (weather permitting); sing karaoke and cook.  My favorite TV show by far is Expedition Unknown (Travel Channel and Discovery Channel).  If you love to learn about our world I can’t recommend it highly enough!

What is your top tip for maintaining work/life balance? 

Wait, I can actually have a work/life balance?  I’d sure like to meet more than one person who truly does!  All kidding aside, I suck at this and would love to be better at it.  I think it takes mindfulness and lots of practice.  Some weeks are definitely better than others.


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