"Can I help you?" asked Rakestraw, who is a career coach for the Nursing Center of Excellence. "He said he'd found the HR office, but it was closed."
As they talked further, Carey mentioned that he was looking for a job and Rakestraw told him he had come to the right place and invited him to her office for a longer chat.
Carey, who had worked in sales and client management and co-founded two information technology companies that sold in early 2000, told her that after caring for his father for the past several years, he'd decided to pursue a career in healthcare, possibly in respiratory therapy or radiology. Toward that end, he wanted to get started in the field while going to school.
Rakestraw reviewed the open entry-level positions and gave him a list to look over. Carey went home, researched his options and applied for a position as a telemetry monitor technician the next day.
"There has been tons of information and lots to absorb, but I have found that I have a great group of outstanding coworkers to help me," says Carey, who began work on Oct 18, starting with a two-day training course and exam. His first five to six weeks will be spent in orientation with a preceptor to ensure he understands his job duties, which primarily are to carefully observe patients' cardiac rates and rhythms from a centralized monitoring station and notify nursing staff of any notable changes.
Kaitlyn Sanders, the unit's manager, is excited to have Carey join her team.
"He really took the time to get to know what the position would be and whether it would be a good fit for him before interviewing," says Sanders, who was happy to have found someone who in addition to his background in informational technology seemed truly interested in our department and organization as a whole. "He's going to be a great fit for us."
Carey says that COVID-19 and his father's treatment for his failing heart during the pandemic caused him to reflect on his own life and how he wanted to spend his time going forward.
"For me, there was a lot of synergy for my dad's healing, physically and spiritually during COVID," says Carey, whose father's quality of life has vastly improved after undergoing two procedures performed by Bassem Chehab, MD, and Brett Grizzell, MD, who lead Ascension Via Christi's Structural Heart team.
"I think the same happened for me as I sat back and looked at what the next 10 years would look like," he says, adding that like other people, COVID-19 has caused him to value his time differently.
As a self-employed consultant to start-up tech companies, he was tired of working 80-plus hours a week to keep his enterprise going during the pandemic. He decided he wanted some work-life balance and was willing to start over to achieve it. He decided that healthcare offered the stability, career growth and longevity he wanted, as well as the opportunity to do meaningful work.
It took a chance meeting with Raketraw to help him to get started.
Grant, who already has a bachelor's degree in general studies, returned to Wichita State University this fall to begin working on the prerequisites needed to pursue an advanced role in healthcare.
Working three 12-hour night shifts a week allows Carey to work full time, attend school and still have the work-life balance he had been lacking. He plans to help pay for school through tuition reimbursement and scholarships available to Ascension Via Christi associates.
While he has not yet determined his course of study, he estimates that he has at least two more years of school ahead of him.
Ultimately, he says, "I would love to work more directly with Dr. Chehab and Dr. Grizzell and their team."
But for now, he is enjoying working in Rhythm Central, which allows him to play a role in the care of patients like his father.