Outstanding Alumni

Tracie Herman (NYU Steinhardt ’02) pursues a non-traditional path in occupational therapy.

Tracie Herman knew that it was time for a change. Since graduating NYU Steinhardt in 2002, Tracie had spent ten years as a clinical occupational therapist, working in acute care, rehab and pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center. Throughout that decade, patient stays became shorter, regulations tightened, and Tracie worried that soon she would be unable to deliver the highest quality care to her patients.

“I was losing a lot of creativity as a therapist,” she said.

Tracie resolved to improve patients’ quality of care, and quality of life, from an administrative perspective. She began to read about insurance reimbursement and learn her way around a spreadsheet. By the time Tracie accepted a job at New York Presbyterian’s Division of Quality, she was prepared to apply those years of clinical experience to her new administrative duties.

“Occupational therapy taught me how to go about solving a problem,” said Tracie. “As an occupational therapist, I developed leadership skills and learned how to communicate effectively.”

Six months ago, Tracie moved on to Northshore LIJ Health System, where she is now the assistant director of clinical excellence and quality. Her administrative duties involve data collection and reporting, to ensure that clinicians maintain best practices when dealing with patients.

But leaving bedsides and patients for desks and data sets was not easy. “It didn’t come naturally,” said Tracie. “Now I’m used to it, but going from barely being at a computer at all to being at a desk all day was a very difficult transition.”

Now that Tracie has acclimated to her desk, however, she is a proud patient advocate, championing the cause of occupational therapy as a hospital administrator.

“From the administrative side, I found that a lot of quality control is about ensuring what is best for the patient,” she said.

And Tracie maintains that she owes much of her success in administration to her years as an occupational therapist.  “I don’t think that I would be able to appreciate this position, or bring as much to it, without having first been a clinician,” she said.

“Without my experience as a clinical occupational therapist, I wouldn’t be as effective, or enjoy it nearly as much.”

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