The Importance of Maintaining Business Connections During a Pandemic
Written by: AIHC Member Karen Giacomo, BA, CHA, CPC
Maintaining business connections and building new professional relationships via networking has become drastically complicated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many healthcare executives that previously struggled with this social part of their profession, it now seems insurmountable. Nonetheless, continuing to branch out and preserve your communications with colleagues has never been more necessary.
What happens when you are in the middle of multiple interviews with a health system several states away from where you reside, for a position you are very interested in, and a pandemic happens?
It makes you re-evaluate everything.
I felt stuck with no options. I think fear and stress were key in my decision to not accept the offer that I received 2 months into the pandemic. I had concerns about relocating, potential layoffs with being a new employee, along with learning the benefits that had tipped the scales into me considering the offer were being reduced or terminated. So, I decided to play it safe.
I had a good job with a premier healthcare organization that was not laying off and would eventually only slightly reduce one benefit due to the pandemic. With so many of my friends and acquaintances losing jobs, seeing reduced hours, or being ‘essential workers’ putting themselves at risk every day, I made the safe decision.
I was nervous because, at the time, I did not know what was going to happen with my current employer. But being a very large enterprise, I felt it was safer to stay. They could weather the storm more than most and during a pandemic, healthcare would be a priority service. While not happy, I was comfortable.
Yes, I felt I was stuck and as if I did not have any opportunity to grow professionally. I was not feeling challenged in my current position as I had been in it for 3+ years, but I had a good boss and a good team. Also, I had moved to work at home a few months before the pandemic happened and I preferred it to driving an hour and 20 minutes round trip to the office each day, especially in the winter.
So, early in the pandemic, I let all those things we were all feeling, fearing and stressing over impact my employment decision. I did not take the job and relocate, nor did I actively pursue other opportunities. I would stay stuck.
That changed recently when a professional long time contact of mine, knowing I was not satisfied in my current position, reached out to me about an opening with his company that was a perfect fit for my education, experience and skill set. I cannot stress the importance of making and maintaining a professional network.
I still struggled with whether to go down the road of changing jobs, but I could not let fear and comfort rule. After all, healthcare is always changing and if there is one thing I have learned in 30 years of being in this industry, it is that you must overcome your fears, accept change instead of fighting it and look for new challenges to rise to. I wanted more professionally and while the pandemic still raged on, I would not let it stop me from advancing myself.
I researched the company and was very impressed. I reviewed the job responsibilities, asked questions during the interview, reviewed the benefits and weighed everything. Even though we were in a pandemic, the timing was right. The company was right. The team was right. I started my new position in January 2021!
Yes, there would be some stress learning the new job and I could not know what changes might occur within this company due to the pandemic, but I also knew if we were not in a pandemic, I would jump at this opportunity, so I did.
I leave you with this advice: if you see a position that looks like the next step in your journey, apply. Do the due diligence and research the company. Ask the questions. They should tell you what impact COVID has had on them. Yes, the interviews are virtual, and the work may be too for a time, but if it is the right position, make the move. You might not get the chance to again. Do what you would have done if we were not in a pandemic.
And most of all, if around others, wear the mask and stay 6 feet apart!
Karen’s article is to inspire other AIHC members and other health care professionals subscribed to our blog. Karen is an AIHC Certified Healthcare Auditor and has served as a volunteer to help update the Auditing for Professionals online course and is an AIHC subject matter contributor.