A New Chapter

In mid-July, after six weeks of incredible turmoil at work during the CEO transition, I found myself suddenly unemployed. It was pretty shocking after six years (almost to the day) of dedicated service to the company, but many of the decisions made by the new CEO were suspect–the board of directors ended up “going in a different direction” a few months later appointing an acting CEO who probably should have been their pick in the first place (she certainly always was my number one choice). Regardless of how it happened, it was never a place I expected to find myself, and triggered something I can only describe as a minor existential crisis.

The three months following have beenĀ a journey of reflection and discovery. A few days after packing up my office, Scott and I had a planned vacation in Mendocino with the kids and his family. After three very emotional days, it was good to be on the opposite coast breathing the fresh ocean air and soaking up the sunshine. I needed to get away from the site of the trauma to start the healing process and be around loved ones who were totally disconnected from the situation. I felt like I didn’t know who I was immediately after leaving CHCB, but standing on the deck looking at the ocean without work e-mails or phone calls, I realized that I was not only unemployed but also unburdened. I hadn’t really had an uninterrupted vacation for six years, and I desperately needed one. By the time we were on the plane back to Vermont ten days later, I felt like I was actually reconnecting with the person I was when I graduated from Middlebury, the one not entirely consumed by the well being of The Health Centers at the expense of my personal life.

Back in Vermont, it was time to dedicate myself to finding a new job. I was lucky enough to have enough savings to live for up to six months without working, but given how hard finding a decent job can be in Vermont, I had no time to waste. Happily, I had a good network of professional contacts and was able to land interviews for a few positions in health IT relatively quickly. I had forgotten how arduous the whole process could be, but getting to the first interview was just the beginning. Between the two jobs I wanted, I was interviewed a total of a dozen times by as many people before I got to two good job offers. It took two solid months, but by mid-September, I had my pick between two very different but excellent options: a senior database administrator at a large regional hospital system or a technical services manager at the company that administers the Vermont Health Information Exchange. After six years of the managerial life, the prospect of really testing out the programming skills I’d learned over the years and through my WGU degree was pretty tempting. When the hospital offered significantly more money, it was a no-brainer with a family to support.

I’ve only just started at the hospital, but I think I’m really going to like this job. Sure, the hospital has its own challenges to work through, but I have an excellent manager, great coworkers, and the opportunity to really put my technical skills to good use, expanding them in the process. I may return to management someday, but for now, I’m excited to beĀ learning about datawarehousing, natural language processing, and so much more. Look ma, I’m a real programmer now!

Life’s journey is far from a straight line, and though I never saw this new chapter coming in quite this way, I think it’s just what I needed in some ways. It’s the start of a new adventure, and I’m excited to see what comes next. And for the paycheck. I’m really excited for the paycheck.