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Susy Olson, El Cerrito, CA

Dave and Sally McClure
Susy Olson

I started my work career with two jobs — a day job in a restaurant and a night job belly dancing at various venues in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1984 I went to work at PG&E as a “relief secretary,” a sort of in-house “temp” secretarial position.

Back when I started at PG&E, I believed I would end up retiring from the company. Most people I knew thought it was a good thing to stay at a company like that until “retirement.” I provided administrative support in a variety of departments within corporate headquarters, including Environmental Services, Electric Supply and Corporate Communications.

However, 15 years later, there were some major management changes that prompted me to move on.

‘Time out to reboot my spirit’

I rebooted myself to work at a dotcom, and then again at another startup, one of which grew too fast in the dotcom boom, and then closed its business in about two years’ time. It took those two dotcom failures to show me that I needed to take some time to figure out what I wanted to do next.

I also took time out to reboot my spirit. To have some fun and get moving again, I joined a dance group, Jamila Salimpour’s Bal Anat Troupe, which had been a popular attraction in the Renaissance Faires in the 1970s. Suhaila Salimpour’s dance company honored Jamila’s Bal Anat with a summer revival in June 2001. We performed at Broadway Studio in San Francisco – my three minutes of fame with Bal Anat.

I also enrolled in a home study course in medical terminology. After the rush of leaving the big corporate job, and the transition to two fast-paced frenzied dotcoms, I wanted to get a skill I could work with from home. I had used shorthand and done transcription in my previous jobs, so I knew I could learn another language – medical terminology. I also thought starting a business at home would be in good alignment with my wishes at the time.

To gain medical transcription experience, I worked at an agency, essentially starting over again. It certainly didn’t pay much starting out. However, the agency experience helped me get a position I heard about through new friends in my transcription network.

The value of staying connected

Rebooting sometimes means staying connected — staying out in the workforce, rather than working from home. I transcribed for a couple years in the hospital setting. Then, I was tapped for a need in the Trauma Program. They needed a registrar who understood medical terms.

I recognized that I could learn another new skill in chart abstraction and database management. I love to read and write, and that translates well in chart abstraction. I am gaining statistical experience working with registry reporting.

Happy to have found another way

Now I am working at Marin General Hospital (a Trauma Center) in Marin County as the Trauma Registrar. I never thought I would be working with ER nurses, a database and statistics, but that's what I do, and I enjoy it. Our community education focus is promoting bicycle safety and reducing elderly falls, since bike accidents and falls account for a large part of the trauma demographics in Marin County.

I am happy to have found another way to make my way in life in the healthcare field, part of a terrific trauma team at a Level III Trauma Center. I support the medical staff with data that is used to track and trend issues and to provide a basis for educational and performance improvement processes.

Another rebooting in the future?

My partner, Don, and I live in the East Bay. We practice yoga, tai chi and meditation. That helps keep us grounded and in relatively good shape as time goes by.

On my commute to work in Marin from the East Bay, I pass by San Quentin Prison every day. I know there are some amazing inside programs there. I'm thinking of learning how to tutor reading and writing so I can volunteer there. Maybe there’s another rebooting in my future!

Tips for rebooters

Being open to change and being flexible to trying new things is key to rebooting. It represents staying connected to life-long learning. And that translates well for keeping youthful at any age!

I believe any potential rebooter should exercise patience and perseverance with oneself. Make time for play, meditation and stay connected with family and friends. All of that will keep the spirit up during the rebooting process.

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