After 25 years in one area of University Hospital, I made a huge change. I went from the post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) to Endoscopy and GI Clinic at Redwood Health Center. It taught me a lot about myself, about resiliency, and about our system’s commitment to learning and community.

1. Give yourself (and new employees) time to adjust

After years in the same department, much of my work was done on autopilot. That is part of why I needed a change. But I was shocked by how much time and energy it takes to learn things like, “where’s the bathroom?” “what’s my new phone number?” It made me much more compassionate to new employees who are learning so much all at once.

Another challenging adjustment was getting to know my new work family. I felt a deep connection with everyone in the PACU. I had hired and worked beside them, in some cases for decades. I knew their family members’ names. We had a history together.

I thought I’d be able to connect and relate to my new team right away. I didn’t give myself permission to take some time to let new relationships develop. I expected it to happen faster and easier that it did. It took time.

2. Know what makes a good day for you

In the PACU, I had plenty of opportunity to provide direct patient care and it was (usually) the best part of my day. At Redwood, months went by with my focus on the managerial aspects of the job and I desperately missed the ability to provide direct patient care. I had not realized how different the patient care in Endoscopy would be and I no longer felt proficient stepping in. 

It had always been my mantra that I would not ask my team to do anything that I wasn't willing to do myself. If they call in sick, I need to be able to cover them. If they say a certain task is too hard or can’t be done a certain way, I need to be able to say, “You’re right — I’ve been in your shoes. Let’s fix it.” I needed to get back to my core value of being able to support every member of my team and the patient at the bedside, not just from my desk.

3. Supporting a culture of learning

Cynthia paved the way for me to take a month off from my manager responsibilities and learn how to be an endoscopy nurse. She has built such a strong community of managers that value a culture of learning. Her team is characterized by trust and support. I’ve learned in the last year the kind of impact relationship-building can have. My colleagues have my back.

My staff did without a dedicated manager on-site for a month. The other Endoscopy managers stepped in to cover my manager responsibilities. The whole team supported me in this endeavor. Once I allowed myself some time to adjust, identified what really brings me fulfillment and then got the right education and training, I was finally able to successfully transition to my new role. The fact that everyone pulled together to make it happen actually strengthened the entire team.