Author Pamela Salgado, PA-C
Editor Elizabeth Moran, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC
Getting back to work as an Advanced Practice Provider (APP) after a period of leave can feel like a daunting task. If you were furloughed or laid off during the pandemic now is the time to work on these 10 steps to return to work as an APP.
Step 1: Update your Resume
There are many resources available to update your resume and help you stand out as a candidate. Melnic’s Resume Resources is a great place to start! At the top of your resume clearly laying out your credentials, including board certifications, licensures, and affiliations with any academies, i.e. California Academy of Physician Assistants, American Academy of Physician Assistants, etc. (see sample CV for more details). Under your career experiences list bullets, rather than paragraphs,to highlight key skills and responsibilities of your various roles in an easy to read format. Focus on the skills, procedures, and patient population that align with the job you are applying for. Also, include committee, quality improvement, educational, and leadership experiences. If you were recently furloughed, include your initial start date through the present as you are still employed. Always be sure to update your email address to the one you can keep for the duration of your career, as opposed to your current work email.
Step 2: Apply for Jobs
Applying for jobs can feel overwhelming. There are multiple search engines available to help you narrow down your search — for example, specific to your local area or various areas you would consider moving. Additionally, due to the pandemic, there has been an uptick in the availability of remote jobs, even in the healthcare sector. You can use Melnic to create a job alert, submit your resume, and begin receiving job searches. Working parents — doubling as homeschool teachers for their children this school year — may enjoy the flexibility of a per-diem job. Alternatively, if you have been laid off and are the sole income or provider of benefits for your family, consider looking into various affordable health care cost-sharing plans, such as COBRA, while you take your time to find the right next position for you.
Step 3: Consider Training for Telemedicine
With telemedicine services on the rise, there are many online tutorials available to learn how to navigate the nuances of various Electronic Medical Records. Depending on your operating system (Mac versus PC), you may need to access and download different applications you need in order to begin seeing patients via telemedicine. Remote job positions are starting to show up in various career searches, and though telemedicine is likely here to stay in some shape or form, there may be some uncertainty around the duration of these opportunities as the pandemic, and legislation, evolves. Check out more information here on: “7-steps to implementing a Telehealth program during COVID-19.”
Step 4: Self-Care
There are so many levels of stress when it comes to returning to work, especially during a pandemic. As health care providers work hard to care for the health and wellbeing of others, it is important for APPs to strive to care for themselves, too. .Maintaining healthy habits, such as exercise, rest, and healthy eating are of utmost priority. According to WoundSource Practice Accelerator, “Listening to a podcast too and from work, reading a good book, watching a movie, or listening to music” are all great methods used to de-stress. Self-care hobbies and activities may also include writing, cooking, organizing, meditating, walking, running, yoga, and more. As your schedule ramps up with a return to work, make sure to still carve out at least 30-60 minutes a day to do something that brings you joy.
Step 5: Navigate Childcare and Virtual Learning
With many schools closed to in-person sessions until the unforeseen future, childcare and learning options are a crucial consideration for working APP parents. Virtual learning is not ideal and can be extremely challenging for everyone involved, placing an added burden on parents and guardians. The uncertainty has caused many working parents to take their children’s education into their own hands. For example, some families have teamed up to form small learning groups, such as in San Diego County where “parents are creating ‘student pods’” and “hiring teachers as substitutes for virtual learning,” (Education 2020). However, the extra expense of paying an outside teacher is not feasible for all, especially considering the economic toll of the pandemic on so many American families. An organization called, “Uplift,” a “gap filling organization,” offers free tutoring to those in need(CBS News 8 team 2020).
Ultimately, all parents are just trying to navigate the best they can during an unprecedented time. Finding ways to engage children and make them eager to learn on a daily basis can feel harder than usual these days. Reaching out to other working parents can help to validate your feelings and remind you that you are not alone. Outside of work and virtual learning, seek safe, enjoyable activities away from screens for you and your children, such as reading, drawing, hiking, running, tennis, biking, and more.
Step 6: Continue Keeping up with CMEs
In order to maintain one’s certification, PAs need 100 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CMEs) and APRNs recently upped their requirement to 100 CME hours, with 25 CEs of Pharmacology every 2 years depending on the area of specialty. There are many CME courses available in on-line formats. Check out your affiliations and local university hospitals to observe grand rounds, interdisciplinary meetings, etc. Don’t forget to log your hours and save your certificates!
Step 7: Connect with Colleagues and Expand Your Network
You have heard the saying before — “connections are everything.” Every APP colleague offers a different, vast array of resources and opportunities to you. Now is not the time to be shy. Connect with your network of APP peers through Zoom meetings and activities. Join APP online groups online to leverage your connections. Whether through Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn, there are many groups that can help provide support during your return to work — just remember to keep your professional and personal accounts separate.
Step 8: Consider Locums Tenens Positions
Locum tenens positions are where APPs can fill temporary positions for other healthcare providers. Thes duration of these jobs can range from a few days to months and may require travel to a new part of the state or country. Similar to travel nursing positions, they provide airfare, room, and board, and typically pay a higher, more attractive rates. If you have the flexibility to temporarily move locations this could be a great opportunity for you!
Step 9: Maximize your Unemployment Benefits
Oftentimes laid off or furloughed employees are unaware of their unemployment benefits. There are multiple guides to applying for unemployment benefits during your time away from work. Check out edd.ca.gov to apply for state and federal benefits today.
Step 10: Enjoy your Decreased Workload
Though for some it is easier said than done, try to find the silver linings of a decreased workload. This may be the only opportunity in your career for an extended break from work until retirement! For those who are used to a busy daily schedule, packed with productivity, rest can actually be more difficult. To avoid feeling sluggish, try to stick to a routine throughout your day: make your bed every morning, get showered and dressed, make a list of things to do for the day, make a list of things to do for others, exercise, and enjoy the great outdoors. Indulge in all of the hobbies you don’t usually have time for. Consider utilizing this time to do projects around your home or organize your living space. Spend time catching up with family and friends, safely. Before you know it, you’ll be back on the treadmill of.
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Pamela has been a Physician Assistant for the last 10 years. She has always had a passion for working with children. She has worked in otolaryngology for the last nine years and loves it. She completed her undergraduate and graduate training at the University of California, Davis and earned her degree in neurobiology, physiology and behavior. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies in hopes of becoming a Chaplain PA. In her free time, Pamela loves spending time with her husband, a Head and Neck Surgeon, of 10 years, and three young daughters. She also loves sailing, traveling, and scuba diving. Pam has a website with additional articles, www.pamelasalgado.com