Community Connections for Health Care

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by Joan Bachman

Time drags, rushes, stands still. Days of the week have no function. All of a sudden it is Friday and the list isn’t full of checkmarks so Saturday means catchup. -- retirement with covid

2020: I’ve become more conscious of personal identity this year – my own and others’. Mostly, I struggle with the sharp differences (changes?) in stated beliefs between individuals and groups of people and the resulting actions. Reading selected books has helped me to understand how the U.S. got to where we are as a country today. Much of the information was new to me or at least provided insight from a different perspective. However, nowhere in the reading were there lessons of encouragement for healing conversation.

From the uncomfortable realm of life “out there”, I turned to the reality of my own identity. Last year I resigned from a number of organizational responsibilities to free the calendar for summer road trips. You know that couldn’t happen. Change will continue as this year I relinquish health professional licensure. This has been a tough but logical decision. The licensure has served as an important identity for me for many years and supported my purposes of supporting others to achieve their full potential. Turns out, identity is an important asset and dispersal or change not simple.

1959 – Our Mercy School of Nursing graduated class went to Bismarck to take the State Board of Nursing Exams. I remember it as a 2-day paper and pencil test in a room in the State Capitol building. Maybe that’s true?? I passed and was licensed as a Registered Nurse. (Tripped on the ironing board and broke my little toe the day the letter came!) I have maintained licensure continually since then. My nursing practice changed greatly over these 60 years from bedside nursing to management to regulating to writing and consulting. Bedside nursing practice looks much different now than it did in 1959. Thank God for the bedside service during this crisis!

1972 -- I took and passed the national exam to be licensed as a Nursing Home Administrator only because the opportunity arose. Timing was just right to take over the hospital and nursing home in Lisbon the next year. Unfortunately, I allowed that license to lapse while I was in Colorado and had to rewrite the exams in 1986. I did pass and have maintained licensure since.

1985 – Education had been a constant since high school. I graduated from Regis College in Denver while employed in Sterling, CO. Regis offered an accelerated adult format – semester credit for one class a week for 6 weeks. That education was an intentional departure from nursing and I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. That knowledge has been useful in many ways and will remain so.

1989 – Because of years of overall responsibility and occasional necessary practice of medical record completion in healthcare facilities, it made sense to learn the real deal. I successfully completed the distance-learning course to earn certification as an Accredited Record Technician (ART -- now Registered Health Information Manager [RHIT]). This was back in the dark ages of paper and pen and the United States Postal Service, before the current time of distance learning via internet and ZOOM. But the system worked well. I let that certification lapse in 2012.

My licensure identity change is a reminder back to other identities: changing from wearing a white uniform with my Mercy cap to wearing a suit and 3 inch heels. Both served as uniforms, and therefore identity. Later on, moving from regular to the irregular hours of consulting and interim work meant less team work, less dressing up and more jeans except for church. Again, less visible professional identity. Covid seems to have pretty well finished the job of removing part of my personal identity by leaving most of my wardrobe untouched all summer in favor of gardening clothes – well, that is an identity too, I guess. It seemed almost silly to switch the closet from summer to winter wardrobe, knowing that it will hang there until spring, lonesome and getting dusty. Thank goodness for my continuing belief that God is good and solid family connections that keep those important identities intact. I’m not ready to fade into the woodwork! There are still people and causes to support, memories to resurrect and document. There are also still highways to explore, even if only day trips for the next few months.

If you haven’t lately reviewed your several identities, I encourage you to make that trip. Good exercise and memories.

About the Author

Joan Bachman

Joan Bachman is a Registered Nurse, Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Registered Health Information Technician, and Faith Community Nurse. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Joan has experience as a Nurse, Administrator, Developer, Trainer, Grant Writer, and served as Administrator of SD State Survey Agency. She has consulted with health care facilities and nonprofit organizations and presented leadership training. Joan is the author of Guidebook for Assisted Living Facilities and Senior Service Providers and Guidebook for Physician Services in the Nursing Facility, and she has published in professional journals.


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