Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wedding ring

I went to the jeweler and had my wedding ring cut off yesterday.

Don't worry, it doesn't mean anything other than that my hand is bigger. Or maybe the ring shrank. Anyway, though the tightness of the ring did not bother me, it has driven Barry crazy to see it looking tight and uncomfortable. I last took it off a few months ago. I have tried since, but it has not been possible and it hurts to try.

Anyway, Barry really wants me to get it resized for the next 25 or so years, so I went to Rose Jewelers today and the jeweler cut it off. I was envisioning something like a pair of wire cutters, but really it's a neat little thing that fits over the ring and he dials it down to cut through the soft gold. It was with a pang that I saw my ring with that hole in it. I know, I know, just a symbol. But I take that "unbroken circle" business pretty seriously.

Okay, so now the ring is in an envelope for awhile. The jeweler told me it'll be at least 6 months before my "dent" fills in enough that he can get an accurate new size for the ring. Last time I had the ring off, it was off for a good month and a half and didn't change much. I hope it is different this time.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A post a month, wow

Sorta forgot I had a blog there for awhile, heh.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving celebration with my parents driving down from the Cities, all three of our children gathered at our table, and two good friends of Barry's, Ron and Carolyn, whom I had never met before but who completed our gathering beautifully. Carolyn is a musician and so she and my parents had plenty to talk about.

Okay, so now that I'm sort of emerging from my triptophan-induced stupor, I have some exciting news to share: In a moment of insanity last month, I applied for the MBA with health care emphasis program at Viterbo, a cohort beginning this January, and yesterday I received my acceptance letter in the mail. Should all go well, in 2 years and about $16,000, I'll have an MBA with emphasis in health care administration.

If Kieffer indeed decides to go to Viterbo as he originally planned, next year 80% of the family will be Viterbo students. Poor Lil Miss A will be the only one left out.

When I look back at maybe 6 months ago, my life has changed so much. For the better. I have loved every stage of my life, and am prepared to love this one too. It's just very, very different!

PS - Just for fun, I thought I'd post my admission essay here:


I’m writing to apply for Viterbo’s Master’s in Business Administration with Health Care Emphasis. I began a new job a little over a month ago with Mayo Clinic Health Systems (MCHS) here in La Crosse, as a supervisor. This is a different management experience for me than any in the past. It’s a different company, certainly; no past employer I have had has ever talked about and lived Franciscan values or servant leadership! It’s thrilling. I, too, am different. I have a deeper desire to serve my staff than I have ever felt before. I want to be useful to MCHS for a long time. One way I can do that is to get more formal training in leadership, specifically leadership within a healthcare organization. I also have some particular challenges in this job, specifically managing a team of 35 direct reports, all but about 5 of whom work from home offices. My communication with them is by email or phone, with very little face to face time.
Viterbo’s postgraduate program seems exactly right. Mayo Clinic Health System’s mission, vision and values statements are based in those of the Franciscan sisters who founded Viterbo. I appreciate Viterbo’s emphasis on servant leadership, even in other academic programs. My husband and our eldest daughter are attending Viterbo right now, and our son is accepted for next year. We are turning into a Viterbo family. It just seems like the obvious choice: If I am to pursue this degree, Viterbo is the place. If I waited three years into my employment, MCHS would help pay for it, but I want the training now.
I have had quite a bit of leadership experience, both through work and my personal life. I served on the city council for a couple of years. I have been church treasurer and presented financial reports to the congregation. I have held officer positions in various professional and community groups, all of which required public speaking and behind-the-scenes coaching. I ran my own medical transcription business for several years, which included personal interaction with clients as well as supervision and coaching of employees and contracted staff. Through the years I have mentored many medical transcriptionists in the various stages of their learning processes. I was a transcription supervisor with a past employer, and now I am one again, with MCHS. I’m serving on the board of a local non-profit organization, The Way Station. I helped revive our local town summer festival, New Albin Days, after it had been in hiatus for over 10 years. I even volunteered briefly with Rudy Guiliani’s brief presidential candidacy. (I was not the reason he was not nominated.)
The most rewarding leadership position of all, however, has been as mother to my three children. They have not always been the most cooperative of followers, but we have taught one another a great deal. They are my joy.
As for what I can add to the team at Viterbo, how I could fit into a cohort group, I would offer my strengths of compassion and empathy. I am not by nature an outgoing person, but have made a point of cultivating traits that don’t come easily to a shy person, and now I don’t think anyone can tell that they are not natural traits. I am a big networker. If I am given a problem to solve, my first inclination is to query people I know and draw on their experiences. Working in a cohort group is how I prefer to work all the time, so it will make perfect sense to me. My bachelor’s degree is in theology. I have wide-ranging interests and enjoy many different types of people from many different backgrounds. I’m a good writer. I work hard at organization, as that also does not come naturally to me.
I have a specific area of concern that I am hoping I can address with my graduate education at Viterbo: The problem of human workers being replaced by technology, rather than assisted by technology, with a loss of jobs and also of quality. My profession, medical transcription, has been hit hard by technology and also by financial pressures that have encouraged outsourcing of work to workers in other countries. As a result, many US-based transcriptionists are unemployed or underemployed. I hope to find a way to make US-based, human-powered transcription the best option: Using technology as a valuable tool, but not allowing it to replace human workers, making the US-based worker the highest quality, most truly economical choice.
The job is going to change; that’s inevitable. I want to find a way to make it change to provide the best possible product using the talents of US-based, US-trained human beings. The thing is, I am running out of time. Health care as an industry is changing extremely quickly. Everything needs to be faster, cheaper, and more secure. Changing the process to capitalize on human strengths is not going to be the easiest solution, but I’m a firm believer that a human brain, human reasoning power, human intuition, can contribute to the telling of a patient’s health story more accurately, in a more nuanced fashion, than the smartest speech recognition computer. I also believe that a US-based transcriptionist, bound by US laws of confidentiality and a carefully cultivated sense of personal ethics, is a better choice than a transcriptionist overseas, who may be a fine person, yet lives under different laws and perhaps an entirely different code of ethics.
I’m convinced that this way is better. Yet it must also be competitive in pricing. That’s where it’s a very hard sell. Our old ways of doing the job are not cheaper than the machine, cheaper than outsourcing. We have to change to compete. Our talents are not in fast fingers, our talents are in our minds, our breadth of medical knowledge, our attention to detail, our reasoning skills that allow us to catch potential errors, our concern for protecting the patient’s record from confidentiality breaches. Part of my puzzle is how to put value on these talents and skills that will be measurable. When reimbursements are dropping and costs are rising, nobody wants to put money into the transcription department, which looks like a big blot of red ink on the balance sheets. I need to find the best way to prove its value to maximal reimbursements, to effective record-keeping, and ultimately to excellent patient care.
I’m passionate about this. Passionate enough to seek out the tools that I can use, including this master’s program.
I appreciate your considering me for the Viterbo MBA with Health Care Emphasis. I’m anxious to begin working with you and with my cohort group to see what all we can accomplish together that we never could achieve separately.