Don’t stop until you are proud.
This mantra, handwritten on a scrap of paper, sat next to my desk for the past three years. During that time, I had a concussion, had to take a brief leave of absence, finished my MBA, and somehow squeezed in more than 250 medical articles. I love my job, the company and everything healthcare (at the very core) stands for. It was never a path I set out to take, but it has given me perspective about life, provided me with unmatched empathy, and the realization of how quickly things can change. Each day is a gift, and every small act of kindness can make all the difference.
I started “on the floor.” Bedside. There, I made friendships. Watched as people were given life sentences in the way of diagnosis. Some defied their odds. While others, perfectly healthy even, did not. And I had to say goodbye to many wonderful people. You see, there really aren’t explanations for why these things happen. They just do. Life does not always make sense, but in a way, you learn to trust the process. You hope there is a higher power guiding everything, with intention and purpose. All you can do is treat others with kindness, respect, and savor each moment like the gift it is.
This was validated by a chance encounter that will always be close to my heart. I had a patient who was diagnosed with colon cancer. She told me that life is like a puzzle. You start putting the pieces together, with no idea of how it will turn out. But then, at the very end, everything comes together and makes sense. She passed just days later. For the first time working in healthcare, I cried. Because of the things spoken in our conversation, I knew she did what she needed to do. She was at peace, and I was so sure that it was a sign.
Since that point in time, I’ve been in… 4 other roles. All in healthcare. I’ve supported work on suicide awareness and prevention. (Something that hits very close to home for me.) I helped create a campaign that bridged Alzheimer’s disease, with senior life, neurosciences, and behavioral health. Because, really, it takes a team to navigate the journey that is Alzheimer’s disease. When the world spoke of injustice, I created a piece that tackled why mental health disparities in the Black community persist. I shared how our organization was making a tangible difference by partnering with these communities to give them funding for extended helplines in the midst of the pandemic. I pushed for an article that spoke about our program for transgendered individuals, and the importance of gender identity and trans-competent care. honestly, this is really only the tip of the iceberg.
I can say that in my time in healthcare, I have been an integral part of crafting the voice of many important discussions. There’s a quote… “Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.” I know I will never be the loudest in the room, and anyone who knows me is very well aware of that. But, I like to think I work hard silently and let my work be my voice.
When you’re uncomfortable, that means you’re growing. I believe it’s time for me to leave healthcare and take another leap of faith. I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished and I believe this prolonged chapter was intended to teach me about life. And, give me the framework to be an advocate for others.
Along the way, I’ve been fortunate to been mentored by many talented, strong individuals (mostly women mind you) who have helped me grow. Helped me be who I am today. This is not lost on me. And, I continue to lean on them for clarity. I want to take the lessons I’ve learned and combine them with everything my MBA taught me. What working in healthcare through COVID taught me. I will never be a CEO, and don’t really care to be. But, make no mistake. My voice will be heard.
Now it’s time to get uncomfortable. It’s a leap of faith. And hopefully, when everything is said and done, it really will come together like a puzzle. Until then, I’m just working out the pieces.