When Lisa Houle, MS, RRT, got the word that she would be laid off from her middle management job in the respiratory care department at Akron General Medical Center back in 2009, it wasn’t a complete surprise. The hospital was experiencing a downturn in revenue and patient volume, and upper management had already gone through a restructuring and round of layoffs of their own.

But like anyone who’s called in and told her services would no longer be needed, the news hit her pretty hard. “I was frustrated,” says the AARC member. “I felt that I was a high-performing contributor to the department and facility.”

All the typical questions started roaming through her mind: “Should I have . . . or could I have . . . or if I did ____ instead, would I still be employed?”

But life goes on, and so did Houle. After taking a week to herself to reflect and relax, she got busy updating her resume to include the classes she had taken as a part of the bachelor’s degree in health care administration she was working on at the time. She also made sure her experience as a direct patient care provider and RT supervisor were well stated.

“I purchased a book on writing a resume and interviewing skills to enhance both the resume and my interaction at potential interviews,” she says. “I also spoke with several physicians and other colleagues to ask them to represent me as a reference or obtain a reference letter.”

With these tools in place, she began perusing the online job opportunities. “I was looking specifically for a leadership position in a respiratory department,” she says. The going was tough. Hospitals in her area weren’t hiring, and it looked like she’d have to get creative to find the kind of job she wanted.

After discussing her options with her husband, she decided to widen her search; and seven weeks later she was offered the director of cardiopulmonary services position at Baptist Health La Grange in La Grange, KY. “The most difficult issue was the distance between my husband and me — about six hours,” she says. “However, I needed to work, and he was very supportive and we traveled alternate weekends to see each other.”

Now Houle says she couldn’t be happier. “I love it here,” reports the manager. “I have had many opportunities at La Grange that I may never have experienced at a different facility.” She currently heads up Patient Experience, chairs multiple facility committees, and has developed or co-developed a number of programs for staff and patients alike. Along the way she’s completed her master’s degree in leadership and change as well.

“My growth here has been amazing,” says Houle.

Her advice for anyone in a similar position? “Don’t be afraid to look outside your immediate area. You will find amazing opportunities and a bounty of new friends and colleagues to enrich your life.”