CASE STUDY #2. Now What?
Ann Scheck McAlearney
Kelly Carmon had been working at West Liberty Health System for four years, and she was starting to wonder about what was next for her career.
She remembered her graduate school experience in health administration fondly, especially now that she had been in the same position for three full years since her first promotion. The excitement of learning new things and the terror of exams and presentations were seemingly distant memories. Instead, she felt stuck in her present job as manager of operations for the division of cardiology. West Liberty Health System was a large, multihospital system located in a competitive Midwestern market. Though West Liberty was both large and doing fine financially, Carmon’s expectation that she could grow and learn within the health system was not becoming a reality. She found that the real day-to-day existence of this operations management position was about as unglamorous as she could imagine, and she was unable to envision a promotion in her near future. Carmon had tried to continue to read and learn on the job, but there just wasn’t enough time in the day. The firefighting of operations and real time crises was always her first priority, and she was afraid that she would soon be unable to remember how to analyze the business case for a new venture or how to think strategically about just about anything.
As Carmon returned home at the end of the week, she decided things had to change. Even though West Liberty had seemed like a good and caring employer when she interviewed all those years ago, the company now seemed much better at talking about caring about employees than actually doing something about it. When Carmon looked back on the past three years, she realized that she had yet to successfully participate in any seminar or educational class offered by the health system because she could never seem to get away from her job. She also realized that she was not alone. Her friends in other departments had similar complaints, and they often felt that the only way they were able to take a break was to leave the country -but nobody had enough time or money to do that frequently.
At 25, Carmon was still single, but she was starting to feel that the time she was investing in her career was not paying off professionally- and it was certainly not helping her social life. Feeling burned out and disappointed, Carmon knew she needed to do something different, but she didn’t know what. She wanted to take the educational programs West Liberty offered, but she needed to find some protected time. She also needed to figure out how to navigate tl1e politics and chaos of West Liberty.
Carmon set up a meeting with her boss, Patricia Edwards, director of cardiology, to voice her concerns. Although she told Edwards tl1at the reason for the meeting was “professional development,” she wasn’t sure that Edwards understood, what Carmon meant; she also wasn’t confident that Edwards would be able to provide the guidance Carmon sought. She had other mentors at West Liberty who had suggested different ways to develop herself professionally, but Carmon knew she had to get Edwards’s support before she could reallocate her time to focus on her professional development.
In preparing for her meeting with Edwards, Carmon considered what information she should send to Edwards ahead of time and what she should leave for the actual meeting. Knowing Edwards hated to be caught off guard, Carmon decided to compile all of her preliminary planning ideas in a “for your eyes only” document that she could send a week in advance of the meeting. She knew Edwards’s time was limited, but she wanted to make sure Edwards understood how important this issue was to her future at West Liberty. Carmon was dependent on Edwards’s buy-in to help her achieve her professional development goals, and she felt that a personal professional development plan would provide a solid framework with which she could guide the discussion. Knowing her resume would be a good starting point, she decided to update it (see exhibit -resume for Kelly Carmon) before considering her next steps.
Case Questions to consider:
1. What constraints does Carmon face within her position? What options does she have to overcome tl1ose constraints?
2. What can Carmon do in her present position to learn on the job?
3. What should Carmon do to prepare for the meeting with Edwards?
4. What should be part of Carmon’s personal professional development plan?
5. What documents should Carmon bring or send in advance of the meeting?