Mary Pat: For the past 7 months, I’ve had the great pleasure of working as Interim Director of Coding for Marta de la Torre at Steward Medical Group, a mega group of 700 physicians and mid-level providers associated with 12 hospitals in Eastern Massachusetts. I greatly appreciate her willingness to share her fascinating story about working Abu Dhabi for two years as a Revenue Cycle Director.
Marta: I got a cold call from a recruiter. It came at a point in my life when I had reached the top of my career with the hospital I had been with for 13 years. I did some research and found out that for an Arab country, Abu Dhabi was a much more westernized country than Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Bahrain. What excited me most about working in Abu Dhabi was the chance to get in on the ground floor of building a 3rd-party payer system. Having lived through the dysfunction of the American healthcare system, I felt I could bring that experience to Abu Dhabi and help them avoid a lot of the pitfalls the American system has experienced.
Marta: First, I had a video conference interview with the recruiter. Abu Dhabi is 9 hours ahead of the West Coast, so the interview was at 5:30 a.m. one morning. After the interview, I had to answer questions in writing – questions about my management philosophy, problem-solving, and technical questions on areas I would be responsible for. The answers were sent to management team of Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) which is the flagship hospital named after the current Sheikh (pronounced “Shake”.) The next step was a video conference with with the Cleveland Clinic team – the CEO, CFO, and CHRO – whom I would be working with in Abu Dhabi.
The entire recruiting process took about 7 months. I was subjected to a very vigorous security check and had to produce my birth certificate, my children’s birth certificates, my marriage certificate, the addresses of my homes for last 7 years and all my school transcripts (don’t EVER throw away your high school diploma!) certifications and licenses. I was asked about my religion, my ethnic background and my gender.
Marta: My contract was with the UAE (United Arab Emirates) government so I did a lot of research online about negotiating contracts for these type of overseas jobs. One of the basic benefits was an annual paid 30-day vacation with round trip tickets to return home. Our apartment and utilities were paid for, and we got an allowance to either bring our furniture over from America or to purchase new furniture once we arrived in Abu Dhabi. My cell phone and internet service was covered and I also had a car and driver. There are no taxes there, so I received a generous compensation with no deductions.
Marta: In Abu Dhabi, the husband always has ultimate say. Even though I was the one who held the contract and was making the money, my husband was the one who was in charge. I couldn’t rent a car or an apartment without his signature. Expatriate women can move about the country freely without a male escort and are not required to wear the abaya (black robe and veil), but we did need to dress conservatively. Skirts must be below the knees, tops must have sleeves past the elbows and there was no plunging necklines, and no shorts.
The government reserves the right to stop you and demand to see your papers. At all times, you are required to carry copies of your passport (which the government keeps for your first 30 days there) and visa, your sponsor letter, alcohol ID card, and separate ID with photo which means you are “registered.” Registration was required before we could open a bank account, get health care or get a driver’s license. The sponsor letter is the letter from your employer that says what you are doing in the UAE and it also states how much money you make. Everyone knows how much everyone makes – salary is not a secret. If you are a non-Muslim, you can spend up to 1% of your monthly salary on alcohol, but you must have an alcohol ID.
Marta: We were required to live in hospital housing for 3 months then we could choose to stay there or lease our own “flat”. The way you lease a flat in Abu Dhabi is that you tell the leasing agent what you want and based on your income, several choices are offered. The flats had modern living amenities. We had the air conditioning on 24/7 – the temperature could be 120 degrees outside and we would keep it at 73 degrees inside. There was no dishwasher because most people had maids – there were living quarters for maids in all the flats. You could negotiate a maid in your contract; most maids live with you full-time and might get one day off a month. The maids (and all workers in Abu Dhabi) come from countries such as Sudan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and the Philippines. Maids make $50-$75 month, but we chose to have a cleaning lady come in every week. We paid 30 dirhams ($10.00/week) for her to clean 5 hours and do the ironing.
Marta: Eating is the biggest social activity there. In Abu Dhabi, you can get food from every country in the world. The work week is Sunday through Thursday, so Friday starts the weekend and the custom is to get a table in a restaurant for the entire day. You eat and talk all day with friends! There was an American Club with large buffets and alcohol available. Alcohol is not served in any restaurants except international hotels and the clubs.
The shopping was amazing! Because there is so much money in Abu Dhabi, there is a lot of high-end shopping. There is no singing or dancing, no cards or gambling. There were movies to see, English movies that were dubbed in Arabic with English subtitles, Bollywood movies and Arab movies. The newest titles were about 6 months old.
In the winters (average 75 degrees), people will go to the beach for water sports, will go “dune bashing” which is riding ATV vehicles, and will camp in the desert. You can go to resort hotels for the weekend and get reasonably-priced spa treatments and food. It is typical for expatriates to leave the UAE every 3 months for up to a week to travel to other countries for a “sanity break.” Paris is five hours away, it is six hours to London or Moscow and many people went to Africa on safaris.
Marta: In many ways, it was the same. The daytime hours are about the same, but there is a call to prayer for Muslims 5 times a day. Men are required to go to a prayer room (there is one in every public building) or a mosque for the call to prayer. Each call to prayer lasts 15-20 minutes and because it is based on the lunar calendar, the times are different every day. Women are allowed to pray at home and women at work who desire to pray may go to a vacant room and pray, but women are not required to go to a mosque and pray as men are. Employees take about an hour for lunch daily.
I was met every morning with a fresh cup of traditional coffee (with cardamom) on my desk. The Tea Boy, who prepares the drinks for the floor, has a very prestigious job and is looked up to by other employees as he wears a uniform of blue pants and a white shirt. The Tea Boy is responsible for making sure that everyone has tea, water (bottled) or coffee, as you come in the morning and he circles around the floor throughout the day offering beverages to the 75 employees on that floor. If there was a gathering of people or a meeting, the Tea Boy was summoned for beverages. If sweets were brought in, he shared them around, and also ran errands and brought the mail.
Marta: I worked for Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) as the Director of Revenue Cycle for the 500+ bed acute care hospital and 13 primary care and specialty clinics. The government had decided to implement a third-party payer system and 12 months before my arrival in Abu Dhabi they had contracted with a German insurance company to be the plan for the country. They planned to enroll all natives (Emiratis) and give them health insurance cards. Daman (meaning health in Arabic) was the name of the plan. Prior to Daman, the government paid for 100% of all health care.
I wish I could have accomplished more while I was there, but I am happy with what our team did together.
Marta: English is the business language of the country, and most people speak English so communicating was not too much of a problem. For shopping, there were souks (traditional shops) for spices out of the bag and for fruit, but there were also American-style shops. One British market, Spinneys, had a pork section behind closed doors away from other food.
Marta: The internet is censored so you cannot say anything you want to on the internet, and Blackberry phone service is hosted by the government so it is also censored. We could get Fox News, the BBC, and many more foreign stations, as well as Al Jazeera English, an independent broadcaster owned by Qatar whose motto is “The opinion and the other opinion.”
Marta: I missed the celebrations, the holiday seasons and I missed my family. It took 24 hrs to go the 13,000 miles to go home. I worried that if there was a crisis in my family, it would take a long time to get home. Most of all, I missed being around people who spoke the same language, were familiar with my customs and where I felt I fit in. I always felt out of place in Abu Dhabi; I never felt accepted.
Marta: I wish they had assigned someone to us who had been there for awhile to help us assimilate, which would have eased the shock considerably. When we arrived, we were taken to the hospital housing with no food, no towels, and only American money to use to buy the immediate necessities. Everyone that had come before me was from Cleveland Clinic and had that built-in support. I was one of the very first non-Cleveland Clinic employees.
Marta: It’s quite hard for a woman if you are in a position of authority, and if your spouse is the employee, there’s not a lot for you to do, mostly shopping. People stay inside during the day and come out at night. There was a pediatric shot clinic that opened at 11pm and closed at 3am.
I look at America with a new set of eyes and appreciate the freedoms I have. I can hold any position I am capable of holding. I choose what I wear. I can choose whom to associate with and whom I can eat with – there are no class barriers. I think more about how I can give back to others and less about material things.
What advice do candidates give for interviewing at Cleveland Clinic
Be professionalShared on April 9, 2022 – Supervisor, Patient Transportation – Main Campus Cleveland, OH
Breathe, be calm, be yourself, give honest answers, ask questions at the end of interview and thank the interviewers. depending on the position many of them started off where you were so they understa…Shared on February 5, 2020
Be prepared for a stressful job and ensure good time managementShared on November 25, 2017 – ANM – Weston, FL
How candidates received their first interview at Cleveland Clinic
Applied for a job on company site and they had a video portion where you can record your answers (so i did that), then they called for some hiring event they were having. i went there and spoke with v…Shared on February 5, 2020
Attend a Job Fair when awailableShared on August 2, 2016 – Registered Nurse – Lakewood, OH
I put in my resume and waiting for the HR department to call me then the Nurse Manager.Shared on July 16, 2016 – Surgical Technologist – Cleveland, OH
What candidates say about the interview process at Cleveland Clinic
Not overly complicatedShared on April 9, 2022 – Supervisor, Patient Transportation – Main Campus Cleveland, OH
Ok so it does take rather long for non nursing positions. I applied through an employee referral. Received a phone interview within a week with HR. Then another phone interview with management after a…Shared on February 26, 2019
Very nice u meet your boss befour u startShared on August 30, 2018
Interviews for Top Jobs at Cleveland Clinic
Research Coordinator Interview
I interviewed at Cleveland Clinic
Was very thorough- it was about a 3-4 interview process with typical interview questions and also some scenario based questions. Included shadowing the position before receiving an offer which was nice
- How would you describe yourself in 3 words
Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Interview
I applied online. The process took 2 days. I interviewed at Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH) in May 2022
I applied online then received an email link to do an online interview. You record yourself answering behavior questions. It was straightforward and easy to navigate. You can see yourself talking but you have the option to blur your face.
- What is your biggest weakness?
To help you prepare for a Cleveland Clinic job interview, here are 32 interview questions and answer examples.
Cleveland Clinic was written by Krista Wenz and updated on June 9th, 2022. Learn more here.
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Why do you want to work at the Cleveland Clinic?
What should I wear to my Cleveland Clinic interview?
- Business casual (e.g. dress slacks)61%
- Formal (business suit)31%
- Special outfit (e.g. protective gear)4%
- They didn’t have a dress code3%
- Casual (t-shirt and jeans)1%
How can I prepare for interview in UAE?
- “Tell me about yourself.” …
- “Why did you choose to apply?” …
- “What is your biggest strength?” …
- “What is your biggest weakness?” …
- “How do you see the future of healthcare?” …
- “How do you stay informed on current events and advancements in healthcare?”