“In the end, what we regret most are the chances we never took.”
Disclaimer: This post is long… I am feeling all the feels this week and this is my therapy – as so many writers can relate. Read along if you like, but this one is for me.
This week was a big week for me – professionally, personally, mentally… I stepped back from a very happy, impactful and uniquely wonderful chapter in my professional career. Many who know me know I am so passionate about working with the underserved – in particular, refugees and immigrants – especially the Latino community. Born and raised in South Central Texas in a family who always served and loved on others in our community, it has been a natural progression – from volunteering at a young age, creating/leading large public health initiatives for many years and then working clinically for an FQHC – community health center. I have never been one to shy away from change (even though it is very unsettling to go through it).
Last spring, I was offered an opportunity that I was not seeking… An enticing opportunity to be on leadership. To be part of a start-up (under the leadership of a very successful CEO) from the ground up. To help build the strategy and services offered. To hire and grow a line of providers to serve others in a big way. This company has the ability to provide life-changing healthcare/support care to aging seniors and their families. This is an urgent need I have become acutely aware of in my practice and also through the recent illness and passing of my dear father-in-law. Watching, first-hand, through the eyes of my mother-in-law and my husband, there is no doubt there is so much more support we can offer aging seniors and caregivers.
BUT, I was hesitant… I loved my job. I made a difference daily to our community and to people who truly have a lack of dignified healthcare and support. The environment was great. My colleagues were committed and fun. I had a fantastic boss who was supportive and encouraging. I’d been there almost 5 years and it was the job I sought out when I moved to Richmond from Texas (which was a HUGE transition.) And, honestly, the job had become part of my identity. Most people who knew me knew where I worked and who I served. Yes, I was feeling a bit of burnout post COVID but overall,… it was not an easy decision.
However, throughout my life and career, I have sought out or been offered unique experiences that alter the course of my future. During college I was a high school counselor at the medical school for a summer science program for teens. During that time, I met a neighboring PhD candidate who was also an Army veterinarian. He let me help him with surgeries and taught me a lot about research. Shortly after his graduation, he offered me a spot in a post-bach program in Maryland doing chemical warfare research with the Army. This was fascinating as it was during the time of weapons of mass destruction concerns and 9/11. I am still friends and colleagues with the people I met there and I got to enjoy the adventure of living in the mid-Atlantic fresh out of college.
This experience led me to graduate school. As a public health student, I spent significant time abroad and helped with HIV/AIDS initiatives in Honduras. From this experience, I worked in HIV/AIDS research initiatives for UTHSC-Houston with two cutting edge, life-saving Infectious Disease doctors and, eventually, joined an HIV non-profit in Phoenix where I led grant writing efforts and worked my way up to the number 2 position next to the CEO leading all advancement initiatives. This CEO is still a colleague and a person I consider a valuable mentor. And, these examples go on and on over the past 20+ years in the working world…
My resume is not linear, in the traditional sense, but the zig-zag has allowed me to have such well-rounded, rich experiences. I looked through the doors… and the windows with the underlying moral compass that each role must make an impact to a person, group or community.
So, all of this to say… Despite being content in my job, the more I thought about it, I knew I could not pass up this new role. I’m excited to use my experiences and knowledge to join an innovative leadership team making a difference in a new way – more “behind the scenes” yet with a hopeful large impact.
So, this week I left my full-time role at The Daily Planet Health Services (Daily Planet Health Services - Daily Planet Health Services (dailyplanetva.org). I was showered by more love that I ever expected. A surprise staff party with the CEO, CMO, my most wonderful MA and all my dear colleagues, gifts, patient letters… oh the letters! Bring on the waterworks.
So, here’s to transitions, new challenges and taking it all day-by-day.
“Every risk is worth taking as long as it’s for a good cause and contributes to a good life.”
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