by Missional Impact


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Adversity at Work Can Clarify Your Purpose

Vicki Crane, an expert and mentor in leadership excellence and healthcare administration, shares a personal story about being resisting the urge to quit.
 

Missional Impact | mentor interview with Vicki Crane

 

Regardless of where you work or what you do, at some point you will wonder why the Lord has you in your current job. Most likely, this will happen when adversity hits. What can you do in those cases? Missional Impact asked Vicki Crane, one of our mentors, to share just such an instance from her career when she felt relentlessly pressured to give up.
 

Vicki and the Mountains of Adversity

When I was asked to join the leadership team of a prestigious academic medical center, I was thrilled to be hear of their confidence that I was absolutely the person to take them to the next level —no national search, no competition for the job, no doubt that I was the one to lead the charge. Although my husband and I prayed and pondered this miraculous job offer, it was easy to accept as the Lord’s will for my life.

After accepting the job but before starting it, I briefly basked in the rosy glow of success. Meanwhile, the center had a tragic medication error that made national news. Then, shortly after I arrived, it became obvious through talking with key physicians, leaders, and the staff that many basic, essential services were not in place in my areas of responsibility. The problems that led to those errors didn’t happen on my watch but fixing them would be on my shoulders. On top of the quality concerns, the drug expense had tripled in the last few years despite drug control programs and a substantial reduction had to be achieved simultaneously.

I felt betrayed. I wanted to quit. My old employer would have welcomed me back with open arms. But then my husband, in his objective, scriptural way of thinking, asked, “Why do you think the Lord placed you there, gave you this job?” I decided to stay the course and see how the Lord (not I) would handle what the adversities ahead.

I felt betrayed. I wanted to quit. My old employer would have welcomed me back with open arms. 

In my early prayers, I wanted the Lord to move the mountains ahead of me. He didn’t do that. But he did give me the ability and the agility to climb them and keep walking with him. It became set in my mind that this was an opportunity —not an adversity — for faith and spiritual growth similar conceptually to Deborah facing iron chariots, Jehoshaphat facing five armies, Nehemiah before the Persian king, and Daniel in the lions’ den. I had to depend on the Lord or fail.

Mountain #1: Medication safety | The medication system was thoroughly charted and analyzed. Many fail points were revealed in diverse areas e.g. training, independent double checks for dangerous drugs, timeliness of drug delivery to the patient care provider. After the investigation was presented to senior management by fail points and ranking of their potential adverse impact, there was broad support to implement the majority of the recommendations immediately and consider the rest in the upcoming budget cycle.

Mountain #2: Drug budget | Usually, in this type of setting, the pharmacy and physicians are seen as being responsible for controlling drug costs while maintaining quality of drug therapy. This time, a systemwide initiative occurred where each division and its leadership were responsible for analyzing drug costs in their respective divisions and then coming together with all leadership for systemwide initiatives. Many extraordinary results occurred, but one of the best was the initiation of the patient assistance programs which have resulted in saving the system millions of dollars annually (with no decrease in quality) as well as assisting the large population of indigent patients in having state of the art drug therapy.

Mountain #3: Quality management | A clinical safety committee was formed with oversight in order to not only implement quality standards but maintain and enhance them. Arguably the greatest gain was seen in changing the culture to one of continuous quality improvement. The clinical safety committee continued and evolved, and the medical center benefits from continuous quality management and advocacy from key physicians and leaders.  

 

Reflecting on What Happened

When people — leaders, staff, patients — observe that you don’t fall apart in bad circumstances, they logically wonder why. Why are you not panicking and stressed out like everyone else? Why are you different? Questions like these are invitations to talk about your faith. Thus, the greatest opportunity, not adversity, came through this crisis. An additional benefit was to advance in my own spiritual and professional life.

…the greatest opportunity, not adversity, came through this crisis.

From cursing to blessing | And it was all grace, all the Lord’s doing. Before the mountains of adversity, there was little understanding of continuous quality improvement or of teamwork between divisions. Afterward, a major change ensued in quality culture and was actively sustained. Over the next decades of employment and promotions there, I wanted to quit on more than one occasion. Why didn’t I? Because I always remembered that first year and how the Lord had turned cursing to extraordinary blessing for the whole health care system.

No fear | Adversity is not something to be afraid of or try to get out of. Whatever the circumstances, they are God’s circumstances, not yours. Meet them head-on by asking for strength and wisdom to apply the Scripture you have in your soul to the adversity. A prayer for strength in adversity shows that you understand adversity is an opportunity for you to grow spiritually and humanly. Then, adversity becomes an opportunity to see the Lord handle the difficulties and to demonstrate to others around you the difference he has made in your life.

A critical turning point | As believers in Christ, our first thoughts in adversity (and even in prosperity) should be to think about why the Lord has put us in that situation. There is nothing wrong with praying for an adversity to be taken away, but our next statement should be the words of Jesus to his Father, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). If God’s plan is for you to stay in that adversity, there is a positive reason for it (Genesis 50:20Romans 8:28). Understanding that is a critical turning point in your thinking, your words, and your actions. Then you will have the opportunity to represent the Lord as an ambassador and to grow spiritually.

Bad circumstances or people problems do not impugn God’s perfect character or plan, but they do reveal your faith. Though trials, God demonstrates that he is the only object of our faith. We trust God to bring about the harvest in his way and in his timing. A person who hangs in there and does a good job will be vindicated by the Lord. 

  

Photo by Matt Sclarandis at Unsplash

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

MEET THIS MENTOR

Vicki CraneVicki Crane, a pharmacist-MBA, held progressive leadership positions in pharmacy, systemwide administration, and patient safety. Her practice focus included patient safety, transforming care through behavior changes, coaching and mentoring the leadership team, process redesign and technology innovation, and cost-effective, outcomes management. Vicki retired in 2013 but makes her expertise available in Missional Impact’s Mentor Network. | Read Vicki’s full bio. | Send a question to Vicki.

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