Meet Jess Horwitz! A passionate leader and clinician, Jessica leads the multidisciplinary clinical teams at Nurx: medical, nursing and clinical development. She possesses varied clinical experience taking care of people across the lifespan, specialized expertise in HIV treatment and prevention, and a commitment to providing comprehensive and affirming sexual health services. She holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism and dual graduate degrees in Public Health (MPH) and Nursing (MSN), as well as a post-graduate certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Jessica lives in California with her husband and two young daughters (Courtesy of Nurx.com).
How did you reach your current career and what makes you love what you do?
I have had a really fun and interesting road finding my way to my current role at Nurx. I finished my undergraduate degree fueled with bleeding heart passion and optimism and embarked on a career in journalism and health policy. Feeling excited and a bit riotous about making right in the world by writing deep journalistic pieces by day and fighting injustice by night. This passion and in hindsight – slightly brash and naïve fervor led me to a variety of settings where I was writing, thinking, and working on issues of health care access and healthcare disparities. After a few years of this work and some personal life experiences along the way– I was inspired to turn the tables a bit on my policy and advocacy work and dive into direct patient care. With my only undergraduate science courses being a basic nutrition course entitled – Man’s Food and a less than scientific look at forest animals in a course called Wildlife Studies – I had work to do. But the organic chemistry and biology courses were worth it and becoming a nurse practitioner was the best professional decision I have made to date. With many years of direct patient care experience caring for people throughout their life – with a special interest in affirming sexual healthcare, women’s health, HIV medicine and gender affirming transgender primary care I found my niche. And with time, my time in the exam room started to involve time thinking about how I can meld my pre-clinical work with this work I have grown to love. I started to take on leadership roles within the clinical organizations I was working at and threaded policy and advocacy and improving access into my daily work once again. When the opportunity presented itself to take these experiences to a crazy little start up called Nurx, that was thinking about using an app to connect people to birth control and PrEP – I knew this was going to be my next adventure.
There are so many things that make me love what I do. I love that I can make an immense impact every single day on someone’s life. I love that I have the ability to support and lift up other female leaders. I love that what seems like a small act can literally be the thing that keeps a person from contracting HIV or the thing that enables a woman to access contraception so that she can go to college and be in charge of her future. I love thinking big. And turning those ideas into action.
What's your favorite part about disrupting the healthcare industry?
Where do I start?! First – I love that you specify that we are disrupting the healthcare industry. Because so often people refer to Nurx as disrupting healthcare. And I always clarify – that we are not disrupting healthcare. We are just disrupting how people access healthcare and innovating new ways of getting people the care they need. The healthcare is the same (if not better). Our clinicians are board certified MDs, NPs and PAs – it does not get more traditional than that. But – what we are doing is saying – this industry where the system has all of the power is NOT ok. And we are here to change that.
So – my favorite part is giving the power back to the person who needs access – changing the power dynamic that exists in so many parts of healthcare and creating systems that allow people to connect with clinicians to take control of their health and be met with knowledgeable, affirming and welcoming care – no matter where you live, what color skin you have, how much money you have or who you love.
What would you tell yourself when you were younger and/or what advice would you give other women?
Love yourself and give yourself a damn break!
I have two little girls and I feel the most important lesson I can give them is to love themselves – their mind, their body, their mistakes and their beautiful oops, their achievements and their let downs and to give themselves grace. We are always learning and growing (at least lets hope so) – some of the most incredible wins I have had came after really big let downs. When I was younger I had a harder time not being my biggest critique when things did not go as planned. Today – I let those things go. I embrace all the bumpy parts along with the beautiful parts of who I am and try my best to take this life as a long windy, wild, sometimes bumpy, sometimes smooth, often messy… but always beautiful road.
Who inspires you to live your best life?
My two little girls who are watching everything I do – no question inspire me to live my best life. I also have had some experiences that have taught me that life is short and can change in an instant. And this is my one wild and precious life – so I am going to do my best to put meaning into every day.
Is there something you were self-conscious about when you were younger and have learned to embrace today?
To be honest – not really. Sure – there were things my teenage self wished were a bit different – but from the time I was a young adult I had a pretty good sense of self and thrived on the confidence that became a bit of my identity. I wish I knew why that was - because it is one of the things I wish most for my girls – the self-confidence to love who they are!
What do you love about yourself?
I am bold and confident and willing to put myself out there. I love that about myself. And work hard to inspire and lift other women up as well.
What do you love about empowering women?
I swear I did not know this question was coming.
Now more than ever our tribe of women need to empower each other and lift each other up. And I take this responsibility very seriously. Sometimes all a women needs to take that next step at work, get out of a bad relationship, go back to school, feel confident in her decision of how to live her life or how to control her body – is the support and encouragement of another woman saying “You got this”. I have a lot of privilege in my life – but with that privilege comes responsibility to help others.
What are you excited about for the near future?
I am excited about the growth ahead for Nurx, expanding to more states, offering more comprehensive healthcare for the people we serve, and empowering people to demand better access to the care they need. It is an intense time we are living in politically – but it is also the time to lean in, do more and take action – and this inspires me, I hope it inspires others too. I am also learning to play the piano and this is an exciting new adventure that elicits emotion for me in a brand new way.