When I first married my husband 14 years ago, he was active duty Army, which transitioned into Army National Guard, then Army Reserves. I felt I had the logistics of this military lifestyle figured out with my husband working as a Reservist one weekend a month and two weeks a year. We had a pretty routine setup: He worked a corporate position, I was employed in healthcare in Wisconsin, and our twin boys were about to enter kindergarten. Around this time, one of my husband’s mentors suggested he look at the Active Guard Reserve program. He submitted a package and I soon learned of the career hurdles attached to be on the move.
No time for decision making
My husband found out his package was accepted, which meant the first assignment would take us to the east coast in 60 days. We had 48 hours to make a decision that would affect our lives for the next three years.
We looked on a map to see where this assignment was and what was nearby. How were the schools, where would we live, what about our house that we were living in, would our kids finish out the school year or leave? It was January and my husband would have to report by March. After mulling it over, we accepted.
The plan was, Chris would go ahead of us and I would stay back until the school year was completed. We would rent our home, and I would wrap up my job towards May, then focus on the logistics of moving. We would rent a house close to the reserve center since we knew where Chris would be working, and I would find a job somewhere in the area. I thought it would easily ‘just work out’ because I was accomplished with my previous position, enrolled in a selective leadership program, had plenty of clinic time, and was also tackling new program development for a large university hospital. Call me optimistic, but I wasn’t anticipating any problems leaving one position to start a new one out of state.
Healthcare is a good field to be in as a military wife, right?
Encountering the hurdles of moving a licensure
After my last day of work, I started to devote time towards our move. I reviewed the new state requirements needed for licensure and so forth at our next location. At this point in my career, I had worked in healthcare for about 18 years. Prior to having children, my husband and I had lived in four different states and I was familiar with obtaining new state licenses. I felt confident with my work history and experiences, so I winged it. But, moving east was a different animal. I was required to apply for two licenses and they had to be sequentially issued. I also had to complete mandatory state training, criminal history check, education verification, order transcripts, and provide documentation for national certifications. There were other required documents and licensing needed in addition to the state licenses, so the work added up right away.
It was also costly. I had paid over $1000 for state fees rather quickly into the process. Our new state required additional pharmacology course credits. I had already been practicing for many years and in good standing in my profession. I completed the course online in one week packing in hours of reading, cramming, and test taking to pass. The process was slow and draining. I would call the state board to check on the status of my licenses and they were waiting on this document or that document yet for verification and couldn’t help me other than encourage me to be patient. I never spent so much time on hold waiting to talk to a human and not a recording to follow up on everything. While jumping through the state hoops for licensing, I researched feverishly online for jobs. I spent many nights hunting for jobs, applying for jobs, while taking care of the kids during the day, trying to figure out schools, and providing some sort of summer vacation for them. I knew no one. My husband had to work and I picked up the slack at home after wrapping up our home in Wisconsin and surviving the trip out east. No such thing as a break.
On the job hunt
It took months to get all of my licenses in place. When I finally received them in the mail they were like gold to me as I worked so hard just to get them in my possession! I could finally breathe a sigh of relief and think seriously about working. Right? Wrong. The process of finding a job wasn’t much easier.
I applied everywhere I could and was willing to learn new things, compromise with type of work, you name it, but I didn’t get many calls back and kept wondering why. I felt my resume was strong and I never before had any trouble finding a position in healthcare. However, this was a different geographic with a saturated job market. At the same time, I was trying to tackle the application process with kids in tow. This meant doing job interviews from the bathroom so employers wouldn’t hear them arguing, or relying on my husband to come home to assist because we had childcare issues. Thankfully, by September, I landed a job, even though it wasn’t a position I was thrilled for.
This position was sold to me as a lucrative opportunity with on the job training in an area of healthcare that was unfamiliar to me. I cried my first day of work and promised myself I would ultimately do whatever was needed to return me to where I belonged: at an academic university hospital. I worked long days. And by long, all day in a facility and up all night being on call for multiple facilities. My quality of life was at its lowest and it was severely infringing on my family life. If my husband had a drill weekend or other obligations, it was very difficult to take care of my children. I was huddled in a corner of a soccer arena trying to answer calls. It was nuts. Eventually I resigned after six months of grinning and bearing it.
I ended up taking a leap of faith and emailed the director at a place I previously applied, explaining my situation as a military family. My approach was very honest and the supervisor took a chance on me. I can say he was one of the most kind and caring directors I have ever worked for and will always be grateful to him. The position spanned two years until we found out we would be relocating to Utah. With fresh PCS orders, I started the application process for new state licenses in Utah and received them in less than a month. It was a very smooth and painless process. I also started to apply for work before we left and had telephone interviews lined up once we were halfway across the U.S. in Wisconsin, visiting family, on our way to our new duty location. My GO TO interview bag was with me and I had my first telephone interview while with family. Due to my frustration with my experiences with the first move, and all of the backward planning I had to do, (some of it I do have to blame on myself), I developed my own process to being organized and ready to interview anywhere at any time with this second move.
Developing a process
As with every move, a wave of emotions begin and the mental lists begin. For me, it’s mixed feelings to leave a place of employment, determine how and when to tell them, and start the agony of dong it all over again somewhere new. I have learned to keep my resume on Google documents as I can access it at anytime and update it. Keeping your resume up to date is extremely important to prevent time delays and also to keep your work available.
Here’s Amanda’s top 10 tips for staying organized as a licensed professional
- Keep your resume up to date and accessible.
- Ask colleagues if they can be used as references once you’ve announced you will be leaving.
- Scan all licenses, certifications, and important work documents into Google Documents or create a file of important documents to have access to at all times.
- Do your research. Even if you don’t want to. Review the job market and state rules and regulations for your profession early.
- Keep track of costs.
- Have a GO-TO interview bag with your binder of licenses, certifications, and other documents always available with pens and note pads.
- Network online and read reviews of companies and employers.
- Apply for new jobs BEFORE you move. Write down key points about the position you applied for.
- Develop a list of interview questions to ask the new employer when they call.
- Ensure your new home location is close to where you will be working. Always plan on your military spouse to be gone at some point during the year.