If laughter truly is the best medicine, Jovana Samardzich will never have to visit a pharmacy again—because she’s never short on smiles and giggles, regardless of the situation. That even goes for robberies in progress: “I worked at a Hallmark (store) for a bit, and one time we got robbed at 11 o’clock in the morning,” she said. “The guy walked in, and I just started chatting with him like I would any other customer.” Jovana’s manager was in the back room interviewing a job candidate, so when the perpetrator claimed he had a gun and then made a lunge at the cash register, she did the first thing that came to mind: laughed and slammed the drawer shut on his fingers. “My manager had failed to tell me there was a button under the counter that would notify the police,” she said. “But, it all worked out. The guy took off, and the girl who was being interviewed ended up taking the job, even after finding out what had happened.”
While most people would probably hesitate to take action in a high-pressure situation like that, Jovana has a knack for recognizing—and following—her gut instinct. “I’m a very emotional person, and a very passionate person,” she said. On that note, the one thing Jovana hates “with a passion” is cold weather—which is why, after spending the first 32 years of her life in northwest Indiana, she decided to pack up her car “with the essentials” and high-tail it out to Arizona. “I knew in my heart I was meant to be in Arizona,” she said. “And I just couldn’t stand another winter (in Indiana).”
She arrived without a clear plan of what she was going to do next, but she was pretty sure it would be something in the medical realm. “A lot of my family is in the medical field,” she said, noting that her mom worked for several years as a nurse before retiring recently. Plus, after a fairly long stint in the banking business back in her home state, she had earned a degree in medical billing—and she was determined to put it to use.
So, when she came across a listing for a billing position at WebPT, she jumped on it, and four years later, she’s still helping PT, OT, and SLP practices streamline their billing processes and optimize their financial health. “Therapists are not taught billing in school, so a lot of them are learning—and that takes away from the time they spend with patients,” Jovana said.
Her role has evolved since she first came on board; now, she works primarily with WebPT Billing Members, helping them get a handle on the software so they can use it to its full potential. But, that’s just a surface-level description of her job. “I do a lot of counseling,” she said. “A lot of people are new to billing in general, and they’re very frustrated and looking to you for answers. So, I try to put myself in their shoes and make sure that when they get off the phone, they’re feeling better and calmer than they did before. I reassure them…that if they do something wrong, it’s okay, because it can be fixed.”
Jovana credits her parents for instilling that sense of empathy in her: “They taught me a lot about giving and being compassionate toward others,” she said. Luckily, she doesn’t have to go too far to visit them—they both now live just north of Phoenix in Prescott, Arizona. But, as far as travel goes, Jovana has her sights set on something much bigger—and much farther south. “I really want to go to Australia,” she said. “If I could just go on sabbatical and live there for a year, I totally would.” In fact, Jovana has made it a goal to take at least one trip each year to somewhere she’s never been. In addition to making excursions to nearby destinations like Kartchner Caverns and Lake Havasu, she’s already jumped across the pond to Ireland (pro tip: go for the castles, not the food).
It might be a while before Jovana makes it to the land down under, but she’s okay with that—after all, she’s very content with her life here in the Valley of the Sun. And that’s especially true when it comes to the time she spends at the office. “I really like my team,” she said. “We work well together. We’re a small group, and we’re always talking to each other and sharing knowledge.” That includes knowledge about each other’s quirks and pet peeves—like Jovana’s undying disdain for extra seconds left on a microwave. While her WebPT cohorts are fairly respectful of her standing request to clear the timer, previous colleagues were not so accommodating: “I had a coworker once who went into the break room right before I went on break and set all of the microwaves to one second,” she said.
Luckily, it takes a lot to ruffle Jovana’s feathers. For her, a harmless prank is yet another excuse to laugh—one that doesn’t require a call to the police.
Fave Five with Jovana
- Favorite food: Pasta
- Favorite movie: Remember the Titans
- Favorite sports team: Indianapolis Colts
- Favorite band: Anything country
- Favorite place: Next to a bonfire