Forum

Career Change

Hi I am a team leader and clinical lead in my chosen field in the NHS. I have had my role adapted to accommodate my MS. I am now starting to feel this can no longer be and maybe I should retrain or go down academic route. I wish to continue to work as in early 40s, young family,financial reasons and sanity reasons! I can no longer write, drive,walk long distances, give presentations. In my job I must attend meetings to provide info from our profession and my locality, my speech is unpredictable, I now find these meetings stressful. I have a responsibility to offer support and guidance to staff but because of my speech am finding this increasingly difficult. I do worry that I am blocking someone else from this role. I am tired protraying the image of someone who just gets on with it. Have you any ideas?..loads of managerial experience/project management in nhs but need a career with less talking!

Facing a career change in your 40s is daunting enough but throw MS into the mix and it’s doubly so.
My thoughts would be not to throw the baby out with the bathwater and look for a sideways (or even demotion) move that would allow you to use the skills that you already have without putting stress on those areas affected by MS.

It’s hard to take a lesser role when you know that the “healthy you” has climbed the ladder and worked hard to get where you are. I’m sorry to be harsh but those days are gone. Many of us have faced the loss of a career that we loved but that’s just the way it is – unfortunately.
Years ago I worked with a senior manager who had to give up his role for health reasons. He took a tier 2 job instead. Overnight he went from being my boss’s boss to my colleague. I’ve never met anyone happier. He said that the weight of the world had gone from his shoulders even though he was back doing something he was promoted out of 15 years before!

The one thing I would suggest is to think carefully about going part time if this is suggested. I have spoken to quite a few people who have done this and found that they worked many more hours than they were actually paid for. It could also have a detrimental affect on your pension if you are forced to go down the ill health retirement route in the future.

I hope that you find something suitable - Good Luck

Jane

A lot of wisdom here, just a shame that it does not apply to me as I had never really started a career on this side of the North Sea. What I would like to say (again) is ‘stay where you are’ but do change into a more suitable position within the NHS. Do not give up on the NHS (and there are no political reasons for this statement…) as it is an unpredictable jungle out there, especially for (older… sorry!) people like us who are ‘carrying’ a long term illness with them…

And surely the NHS WILL support and understands your position don’t they?

Hi

how do i start, there are good ideas returned in your post from others on the forum, and I believe this has come from experiences that we all have had over the years, I dont know how long you have been diagnosed with MS, but I was told by a medical bod that your body breaks down and it takes your mind a year to catch up, ha in my case lets say seven years and it is only now that i am accepting it. Saying that I had a very big glass of wine on saturday as I handed over my sports car for a nifty mobility corsa and everyone kept saying what is your problem, because i wasn’t looking forward to it, but the problem was that in the old days I would have been exchanging my car for similar to what i had. I am fine now just needed to get it out of my system so reason for a big glass of wine.

Now that is the reality, but sometimes you have to look at what you have. You have worked hard got to the level you are at, I know because things started to go pear shapped for me in my early 40s, after climbing up the career ladder, I suggest that you look to see what you can still do in your chosen area, also you mentioned finances have you checked what benefits you are entitled to, you may be surprised. Also you have a young family , time with them will be invaluable.

I now spend some time volunteering with the CAB so would give them a call. They have access to benefit information, also some of them have access to employment lawyers who could help with regards going down alternative routes. Irronically I now get more satisfation from my time with the CAB than the last few years of work.

So the way forward can be positive, find out all the options.

trish

Hi

Some great practical advice - all of which I would go along with.

What first struck me as a read your post was that it focuses very much on what you can’t do rather than on what you can do. I think it would help you to take your time and reflect before rushing into a new career. William Bridges’ work on transition says that there are three stages in any transition, be it a career or personal transition, or for most of us with MS, both of these.

These three stages involve first, Letting Go - of habits, behaviours, beliefs, people, our view of ourselves etc. This leaves space for the second stage where we can explore who or what we want to be in the future - this is the Neutral Zone. It is a scary, chaotic but creative space and you have to give it time. It is when you are in this ‘not-knowing’ space that transformation and renewal can take place. Finally, when you have explored your options and motivations, using both cognitive approaches AND by taking time to be still and tune into your subconscious or intuition, you move to the third stage - a New Beginning.

As a career and transition coach this is the space in which I work, not so much with those with chronic health conditions, but more often with people in their forties or fities facing a mid or late-career transition. I have some resources and newsletter articles I have written which I am happy to send to you, or to anyone else on the site, who sends me a private message with an email address.

If you do not wish to do this I suggest you ask yourself the following questions as a starter for 10:

  • What are my core values - those things that are really important to me? (When our values are reflected in the work we do we feel happier and less likely to suffer stress at work).

  • What skills do I have AND still enjoy using?

  • What skills/experience/knowledge do I have that could be of value to others? And how could I make them available to others within the physical constraints caused by my MS?

  • What options are there to apply these skills, knowledge and experience in a different role within the NHS? And who can help me identify other options with my current employer ? A manager, work colleague, mentor, HR department?

It may be though that you have a bit more ‘letting go’ to do first before you start exploring your future options. Maybe you need to let go of the image of yourself as someone who gets on with it ? (I wonder if this has stopped you asking for help from others?) So I would start by asking yourself:

‘What do I need to let go? What else?’

I wish you the very best with your future career and life. Do let us know how it works out.

Best wishes

Hilary