BY MICHELLE M. CROOK, BSN, RN, CRRN, CCM, BCPA
Hello, fellow CMs! In last month’s issue, we reviewed the experience of being laid off, along with the emotions that frequently occur with such a sudden change. We also covered some self-preservation techniques and interventions to help you to cope, connect with others and discover your next opportunity. This month, I present additional actionable items and helpful tips that will likely be quite helpful to you now and in the future.
I found that maintaining a daily routine was paramount to ensure that I kept myself motivated and as upbeat as possible. Set your alarm, get up, get dressed and have a “to do” list without overwhelming yourself. Treat job hunting as the full-time job that it is, but be sure to take breaks. Be good to yourself!
Although it may sound cliché, getting fresh air, sunshine and exercise really help to keep us mentally and physically healthy. However, this does not mean that you need to run marathons or spend hours at the park or gym. A little really does go a long way, and it’s OK if you have only 10 to 15 minutes to spare. Start slowly, if that is more comfortable for you, and build up your tolerance gradually. Picture each step you take as being one step closer to your new job, that next goal or an amazing accomplishment. Walk with a friend, put in your earbuds and listen to music or call a family member or friend while you are out and about. Be sure to check with your physician, as needed, before starting a new exercise program and do what makes you feel strong and confident. Is it a cloudy, cold, rainy day? How about a manicure and coffee or tea with a friend? Now that sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
Additional activities that often get the “feel good” juices flowing include yoga, Pilates-type exercises, meditation, journaling and volunteering. Gentle stretching, getting a massage or having your hair cut and styled can do wonders for your demeanor. If you belong to a faith-based organization, you will likely find comfort and camaraderie there. Support groups and weekend retreats were also very helpful to me, even though they had to be virtual at the time. Spending time with family and friends was priceless, and the support I received from them was invaluable.
If you experience depression, anxiety and/or other concerning feelings, please do not wait to get help. Mental health is just as important as physical and spiritual health. Remember that YOU are loved, cherished and essential to those around you!
Speaking of self-care, it is essential to ensure that you have reliable health insurance, whether it is through COBRA temporarily, a spouse’s/partner’s plan, an interim/short term policy or from the marketplace at healthcare.gov. It is also advisable to speak with insurance brokers in your area, as needed, and seek out state-specific resources. Be sure to check out cms.gov to see if you may qualify for government sponsored programs, waivers or other offerings.
In between my busy job searches and interviews, I took care of some of those tasks that I never seemed to have time for (aka: procrastination in my case!). It turned out to be a good time to take continuing education classes and log my hours into the various portals. This does not need to be costly because there are many free CEUs available. Just be sure to confirm that they are from a reliable source that is compatible with your CEU requirements.
This was also a good opportunity to take some time to fill in my calendar (both electronic and manual for me) with birthdays, anniversaries, renewal dates for my professional licenses and certifications and other important dates. Getting this done was very satisfying to me, as it was something that I always meant to do but never had time to complete. I also joined a few new professional organizations to expand my reach, make new connections and join like-minded individuals whom I enjoyed getting to know and who turned out to be quite supportive as well.
Exploring my local Small Business Association resources and taking complimentary online classes were valuable experiences for me. I wanted to have a Plan B, just in case I was not able to find a job within a reasonable period of time. I learned the perks and challenges of starting a small business, discussed options with my accountant and obtained the names of local business attorneys and financial professionals.
I made time to organize my usernames and passwords, especially since I found that I had to open several new accounts to apply for jobs at different companies. If you start off on the right foot and keep yourself organized, or in my case semi-organized, you will be able to log onto those sites quickly when needed. I know how frustrating it can be to search for those little sticky notes when you are in the middle of completing a job application when the clock is ticking.
As you consider what you want for your next job or career move, try to look from the outside in. I started this process by making a list of things that I love to do and what literally makes my heart sing. You know that feeling when you cannot help but feel giddy? That’s what I’m referring to. Thus, I combined my love of volunteering with my passion for writing by authoring articles for submission to professional journals, blogs and websites. I also took virtual writing classes and contributed to a book that is now sold on Amazon. Little did I know, at the time, that my writing experience and enhanced skills in this area would help me land a job that I enjoy and that would allow me to utilize my skills and professional expertise in a very meaningful way.
Whether you are looking for your next career opportunity, becoming an independent consultant, opening a business or maybe even considering early retirement, this is your time to explore and focus on all of the possibilities that are available to you. Get up, get out, grab that chance to find your passion, and you will find that life has a way of guiding us to what we are meant to do. I wish you every success and sincerely hope that you will always take care of YOU!
Michelle M. Crook, BSN, RN, CRRN, CCM, BCPA, received a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree from Northern Illinois University. She has a well-rounded professional background and carries the following qualifications in addition to her registered nurse credential: certified rehabilitation registered nurse, certified case manager and board-certified patient advocate. Throughout her nursing career, Michelle has been a strong patient and family advocate and has a wealth of experience in both clinical and business healthcare settings. Michelle serves as a state advocacy ambassador for the Celiac Disease Foundation, is an American Heart Association CPR/AED/first aid instructor and volunteers for her local health ministry. Her areas of expertise include neurology, clinical case management, care transitions, healthcare advocacy and clinical program management. Michelle is also a published author and has a passion for writing. She is currently the clinical programs director for the Alliance to Cure Cavernous Malformation.