Sunday, November 29, 2009

News—bad or good, depending on how I choose to view it

I learned last month that I will be joining the ranks of the unemployed at the end of this year. This was a terrible shock to me, not because it was so unexpected (although it was completely unexpected), but because I have so loved this job that I moved across the continent to take only a year ago. I believe I have done good work, managing an outpatient palliative care program that was, by anyone’s standards, very successful. Nonetheless, it appears that this work is not sustainable, it does not generate much income and it does not support the more substantial task of managing a hospital based palliative care service. It speaks to the reality that health care services are fragmented, that continuity of care has been lost in our current manner of providing healthcare, and the efforts to paste back some of the linkages between hospital and home are mostly fledgling and unsupportable. So, after a year I have been asked to resign my position so the practice can look for someone more suitable to its needs.

I’ve waited a month to write this because I wasn’t quite ready to broadcast the truth. I’ve just felt too ashamed and embarrassed to let people know. Although I suppose there were some clues that it wasn’t working out flawlessly, stupidly, I really had no idea, thought things were going well. Hell’s bells. I guess I just have had a knack for working for persons with huge personalities; have to just chalk this up as another episode where my intensity clashed with a rigid ego, and as usual, I’m the one packing.

So what am I going to do? I’ve taken stock. I should be eligible for unemployment compensation, which will be a great help if I do not find another job right away. The timing was favorable in some ways, as just after the shock of learning that I am losing my job, I attended the second part of the Harvard Palliative Care and Education Program in Boston and during the week there, I felt an enormous amount of support and encouragement. It seems very likely that I will be able to find work in my field, just have to suck it up and do the thing again, change my life totally once again. Actually, I’m starting to get up to speed. I’ve had one job interview and another one next week, two more planned for the following week. It is likely that I’ll find another job in palliative care in Washington and stay here. I love the Pacific NW, and even though I may not find a job in the Seattle area, and may have to move again, I‘ve decided that I want to stay in this area.

So that’s the story, folks. Just wanted you to know. I’m fine. If you know me, you know I’m open to change and am good at rolling with the punches. This situation reminded me of Ede, my mom, who after many years of stable employment, in her late sixties lost first one job and then another, wasn’t ready to retire, so found one last job, retiring in her 70s. I'll turn 60 in February, and am certainly not ready for retirement, at least not financially! I’ll let you know the next chapter after I’ve written it.


  1. wow- I am sorry to hear that.... I enjoy your blogs and will look forward to More as you get reestablished... No doubt a difficult position- our home PC program has taken a big hit lately also...
    Wishig you well- and I will remember you in my prayers- that it all works out for good..

  2. This sucks, what a pain for you and a loss for them. Well, you know where to stay should you venture east for job interviews. Though I bet the Emerald City will not let a treasure like you leave so easily.
    All my best Dear Risa,

  3. I recently went thru something similar that knocked the air out of my lungs it was so painful to me. Sorry to hear that this happened to you. I love reading your blogs. Please stay in the writing business!

  4. Sorry to hear that Risa (right before PCEP too!) I worry about palliative care if we can't figure out how to actually span the continuum of care. At some point in the future I would love to hear any lessons learned about creating or sustaining an outpatient palliative care programs. Good luck in the job hunt.

  5. That news absolutely sucks - more so for you, but I still didn't like hearing it.

    I am glad that you not only attended the HMS program, but that it was a source of support. When I attended their first 2-day nursing conference in 2003, I just knew that I wanted to hang and join with other palliative/hospice nurses. The vibe was right.

    Good luck with the search. Looking sucks, too (been there, done it) - but can also be oddly exciting if things start clicking.

    Unless you strongly object, I'd like to mention this post in December's PCGR that I'm now putting together. I'd already planned to highlight your post on Kol Nidre.

  6. Risa,

    What a bummer. PCEP is a great place to get support. I am a 2003-4 grad from the program and there were a lot of great people I still stay in touch with. If you are interested in Kansas City, I am sure I could find something for you with all the programs in the area.

    But I understand if you want to stay in the Pacific NW. Keep blogging please. We need your voice to be heard.

  7. I’ve linked to your site in this month’s edition of Palliative Care Grand Rounds.

    Check it out here:

    Thanks, Jerry