My 1st Blog

My name is Stephanie.  I am not the type of person to share about myself or voice my opinion (unless of course I know you and then you can’t stop me), so blogging is something new to me.  I am a pretty down to earth kind of person who doesn’t need much in life.   I enjoy consistency, knowing exactly what my day is going to be like, where I’m going and what I’m doing. I’m happy when I have a plan.  Not to say I don’t enjoy doing something spontaneous, getting out in the world, meeting new people or doing new things, but I am happy to stay home, work in my garden and play with my kids. I like living in, what I call, my “bubble”.

I’ve had so many secretary (and no, I don’t find that word derogatory) jobs in my life but they were all temporary. I had no consistency in my work life, no job that I could call my “career”.  Then I started, what I called, my favorite job of all time.  I was a Ward Clerk (secretary) on the surgical floor in our local hospital for 9 years and truly loved my job!  I could do my job with my eyes closed even though the floor I worked on is one of the busiest and most challenging floors in our hospital.  It was nice to have just one job that I did exceptionally well (or so I was told).

Then one day life decided that I needed a change.

I started working as a secretary for Plan A Health Care Staffing.  I knew a lot (or so I thought) about the business because it was my best friend’s “baby” and I had been around the Plan A Vision since it was born.  The difference between being around a company and working for it is very different. For me, after being in the same job for 9 years, going to work and knowing exactly what to do, was comforting; having to learn the ins and outs of a new job, however, was frustrating. Ever-evolving policies and procedures, client care, interviewing, hiring and dealing with staff, making sure our files were up to date, organizing orientation, taking care of bills and making sure the office ran smoothly…there was so much to learn!

After 2 years, I am happy to say I can again do my job with my eyes closed and I can talk about Plan A with confidence!  Working at the hospital gave me first-hand knowledge of what happens when not enough staff is there to take care of a patient and the same goes for Long Term Care residents. I love the Vision we bring to our community;  helping our elderly receive the care they deserve in their homes makes the change and challenges of learning a new job worth it. There is nothing more satisfying than watching our shifts disappear because the staff that we hired understand our vision and want to make a difference in the lives of our elderly too.  This is a “career” that makes me feel that I am making a difference in the world even if it’s just a small one.

Well guess what…. the girl who loves consistency is changing it up again!!

I was asked to take on the role as the Franchise Coordinator for Plan A Long Term Staffing and Recruitment Inc.  Again, I am going to have to learn a new job and a different type of position, too. I’m now going to be in charge of, technically, a new business.  I have to be more than the secretary, I have to be in charge of every aspect of starting a new business.  Learning how to run a Franchise from the ground up without policies to rely on (I’m big on policies) is difficult but I am pushing myself “outside of my box” and learning as I go. I am so lucky that I get to work with my best friend who is now also my mentor.  With her guidance, knowledge and business background and my administrative skills and an affinity to following the rules, I am confident that this new venture will be challenging and rewarding.  I have finally found my new favourite “career”!

Steph Candid

How We Put the PRO in Productivity

We all know the feeling: Monday morning, halfway through your first coffee… thinking you have a manageable day ahead, and them BAM, things get crazy. Deadlines, problems to be solved, errands to be ran. Your to-do list is growing by the second. 

Here is how we manage our time to make sure that everything gets done, and done well:

The Trusty Notepad: We would be lost without our notepads. The messy scribble that lives on their pages helps us to get all the little ‘to-do’s’ out of our heads while we are focusing on other tasks.

Our best practice? Each night we create a to-do list for the next day; things that were not completed that day, appointments, projects – the big things. That way, when we come in the next morning we don’t waste anytime refocusing. We know what we need to do and what the day should be dedicated to.

Have you heard of Bullet Journalling? This method is entirely focused on helping you do more in less time. This is something Sarah and I have just learned about and are looking to implement into our daily lives. If you find yourself trying to squeeze more and more into your jammed packed days I encourage you to read up on the method here: http://bulletjournal.com/ Let us know how it works for you!

Mini Meetings: In our small office, it is easy for me to turn to Sarah whenever I have a question or would like her input on something, but these little interruptions seriously inhibit our productivity. We realized this pretty early on and decided to swap in our constant chatter (read ‘cooonstant’) for a few ‘Mini Meetings’ each day, where we check in with each other, discuss any problems, and share feedback and ideas.

Not only does this allow us to concentrate more fully on our individual tasks for the rest of the day, but it helps us to only ask the important questions and to collect our thoughts more fully before bringing them to the soundboard.

Furry Friends: We love having our office pooch, Simcoe. While it may seem that having a dog in the office would inhibit productivity and be a bit of a time suck, we find it is just the opposite! 

Apart from Simcoe being a major stress reliever, having him in the office with us forces us to to get outside and take a breather. Giving yourself proper breaks is so fundamental to productivity, but it is often the first thing we deprive ourselves of, especially as business owners.

By taking time to get out of the office and re-collect our thoughts, even if it is just for 5 minutes, we come back feeling refreshed and more motivated to tackle the rest of the day.

And… did I mention he is adorable?

That’s it for me. What helps to keep your day running smoothly? I would love to hear your tips and tricks! 

Rachael

I am Lucky!

My name is Sheri-Ann Morin, owner of Plan A Algoma. Today I have decided to take the plunge and share with you what led me to open a Plan A in my community.

I was always content with my job within the school board. I cannot remember ever thinking “I don’t want to go to work!” I will tell you, however, that I was always looking forward to summer vacation. When you work in an environment with 700 plus kids, the need for a break is almost always on the back of your mind—always! It was like clockwork; just a few days into summer vacation and I would find myself bored and needing to do more.  I wanted to create a life for myself where I didn’t always want to be on vacation. One day, I asked myself a simple question: “Sheri, when was the last time you were most happy and doing what you love?” I instantly had my answer: I knew I wanted to be my own boss again. I’ve been an entrepreneur in the past, and I was still attached to this feeling. The problem with being an entrepreneur is coming up with a good idea. I wanted to do something that would not only change my life in a positive way, but also better the lives of others, too.  This is when I found Plan A, a company based on helping Long Term Facilities with shortages in staffing. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of this? I read a book recently that said “Good entrepreneurs are not, per say, lucky or smart, they are just smart enough to realize when they are getting lucky.”-Bo Peabody.  This quote signifies my feelings of my partnership with Sheri Tomchick, founder of Plan A Health Care Staffing Solutions.  Plan A is a fundamentally innovative and morally compelling company with passion, energy and activity which I am grateful and proud to be a part of. When I purchased this model/franchise, I was not sure what to expect, but the process has been nothing more than exceptional and smooth. The continuous support and passion for me to be successful shines through in an authentic, caring way. The Plan A Sudbury Team has gone above and beyond. I want to thank Sheri Tomchick of Plan A and her A-mazing team.  You can clearly see the passion when a team really, really cares about doing what they are doing, and the natural by-product of this is quality, excellence, impressed customers, happy employees and a new franchisee owner who is smart enough to realize that I am lucky!

Kevanna Portraits

-Sheri-Ann Morin, Owner of Plan A Algoma


Have a case of the “entrepreneurial itch”? Dreaming of becoming your own boss? Now’s the time! Open a Plan A franchise in your area! Our staffing agency is the first of its kind to use StaffStat – revolutionary shift-filling software – to connect health care professionals to open shifts in Long Term Care homes in their community! No need to call down lists to fill shifts – simply focus on the exciting day-to-day tasks of running your very own business! For more information about this inevitably successful opportunity, please connect with Sheri Tomchick today at opportunity@planahealthcarestaffing.ca. To learn more about our dynamic businesses, visit http://www.planahealthcarestaffing.ca and http://www.staffstat.ca.

 

What It’s Like Being in Business With My Sister

fullsizerender-2One of the questions Rachael and I get asked most often is what it is like working with our sister. People ask a range of sibling related questions: “who is older?”, “are you twins?”, “do you always get along?”, and so on. While Rachael and I are relatively new to business, family run business is something we have always been exposed to through our parents. With this combined experience, these are a few of the considerations we have taken, and observations I have made:

  • Skills matter most: While it may seem like Rachael and I are a pair out of convenience, it’s not true at all. Our individual talents and strengths are actually quite different and complementary! With my background in nursing, and Rachael’s background in business, we very naturally gravitate to different areas. Besides the obvious, there are other aspects of business where our natural skills have expressed themselves over the past several months; Rachael for example is very natural in customer service while I gravitate more intrinsically toward hiring and training. Recognizing and allowing for this has been such an energy saver. While developing new skills (especially the ones that don’t come easily!) is important, having a business partner that complements your existing skills, while bringing new ones into the partnership, is synergy at its finest! Rachael and I do share many sisterly qualities, but recognizing and nurturing our differences is serving us, and our business, very well!
  • Sometimes we’re not family: Anyone with siblings can appreciate that sometimes in our closest relationships familiarity can inhibit consideration. Looking back to August, when the idea of ‘Plan A Nipissing’ was vague and abstract, this was the first conversation Rachael and I had. We recognized that in order for our partnership to be successful, we would need to respect each other constantly, not allowing ourselves to take the liberties siblings often allow themselves out of frustration or tiredness. Rachael and I have been diligent in treating each other with the respect you would naturally afford a co-worker. While it may seem obvious or simple, this has been a newly learnt behaviour, and a complete game changer in many ways.
  • Partners since birth: One of the biggest benefits of knowing my ‘business partner’ intimately has been the ability to have truly honest conversations. While boundaries must be created and respected, being sisters also means that Rachael and I have been working together for our whole lives. In this, we are comfortable being a sounding board for each other’s ‘rough draft’ ideas. We constantly discuss ways to make our business better and more efficient. I think that being comfortable initiating conversations about unpolished ideas, knowing that 8/10 times the idea may go nowhere, has benefited us greatly!

If you are considering entering into a business partnership with a loved one I would encourage an honest assessment of the following: are your natural talents different and complementary? Are you both committed to maintaining respect for the other, especially when it is not easy? And, are you prepared to both give and receive feedback in terms of an honest sounding board? So far, these have been the major contributors to our successful and enjoyable business sister-ship! Oh, and in case you too are wondering: I am older, we are not twins (but people ask often!), and we almost always get along – we are sisters after all! 😉

Sarah

 

 

 

Two Weeks in With Plan A Nipissing!

New on the A Dot scene, I’m very excited to introduce myself, Rachael, as one half of the new partnership that is Plan A Nipissing; operating out of North Bay as of exactly 15 days ago. You may remember my business partner, Sarah Hargan, for her blog contribution to the A Dot back in May. Sarah has been working for Plan A in various designations since 2012, and as you can read in her post, has loved every moment of her Plan A career.

With my background in business and communication, and Sarah’s practical knowledge as both an RPN and RN, I like to think we make a pretty perfect team. While this business partnership may be new for Sarah and I, the truth is that we’ve been in cahoots for give-or-take 23 years. Babies in business suits? Not exactly…We’re sisters!

While Sarah and I navigate the months and years to come, we know there will be unique challenges. We anticipate growing pains, learning curves, and valuable lessons learned along the way. We hope that by sharing our journey with you, we might be a catalyst for others, making the path into franchising and business ownership a transparent one.

As we settle in for our third Monday on the job, we thought we would share with you two realizations from our first two weeks:

  1. You’re your best as yourself, don’t fight it. One becomes an entrepreneur first and foremost because they trust themselves, in who they are and what they are capable of. While our doors may have opened on November 7th, our Plan A journey first hatched in early August. Before this, Sarah and I had both spent months backpacking; unsure of what our next steps would be. Looking back on the last four months we have experienced an identity shift like never before. As young professionals it can be a challenge to merge personal and professional roles, feeling like we’re wearing someone else’s shoes.  Already, we have realized that there is no benefit to wearing shoes that don’t fit. Am I stretching this shoe imagery? – Stay with me – We’ve found that in community interactions, interviews, and client negotiations, being ourselves serves us best.  For us, this means being honest about our strengths and weaknesses, asking lots of questions – and most important to us, making a point to enjoy it all. While we’re not claiming to have become experts at this overnight, we are claiming that we’ve discovered the importance of authenticity as a practice in both personal and professional sustainability.
  1. Knowing and appreciating the strength of your networkIf it takes a village to raise a child, we’re certain it takes at least that to launch a business. While Sarah and I may be the face of Plan A in North Bay, it is more than our strengths, wisdom and hard work that contribute to its’ success. Being a franchise, we have inherited a team of unbelievably passionate, dedicated, and smart women. On a daily basis these ladies have provided answers, encouragement, and an embodiment of what it takes to be A-Team quality.  As if this weren’t enough, we have seen a tribe of family, friends, and new community contacts who have gone above and beyond to prepare, support, and empower us. The lesson here is recognizing that we are not alone, and humbly acknowledging that all of our future accomplishments will rest on an array of external contributions.

That’s all for now, but every month or so we will be dropping back in to share highlights from North Bay, the N-Dot… Not quite as smooth, but we’ll work on it!

Until next time…

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Reflections on a Year of Employment with Plan A

What an incredible ride the past year has been. I’ve just returned home after a whirlwind adventure that has taken me around the world in 82 days. I’m simultaneously exhausted and electrified by the things I have seen and done. I’ve spent the past 48 hours drinking in home; sharing meals with friends and family, cuddling my cat, and driving places without needing Google Maps! I’ve found myself seeking out quiet moments where I can let my mind drift back through the sights, sounds and experiences that have filled this last chapter, and I am blown away by my good fortune.

I can’t tell you how often I am asked some variation of the following questions: Do you have a job? What do you do? Did you have to quit to travel? How can you afford to travel? Are you going to find a job when you get home? My answer: “I have the best job in the world! I work for a company called Plan A.  I make great money agency nursing and have the flexibility to take shifts as I want or need to.  When I want to travel I can, knowing that I will have work when I return”.

This flexibility has seen me through Greece, Turkey and the Philippines since late January. I’m so spoiled by my work with Plan A that I can’t imagine a job that doesn’t foster simultaneous personal and professional growth. My travels took me first to the Greek island of Lesvos where I spent five weeks volunteering as a nurse with Middle Eastern refugees landing all over the island’s shorelines. My love for the caretaking aspect of nursing was stretched and made new here; I soothed crying children, carried old women, found dry clothing for wet people and formula for hungry babies.

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Originally I had planned to return home following my volunteer work in Greece, but as February came to a close my plans had changed. Turkey and the Philippines were such an unexpected treat. They happen to be two of the places in the world where I have encountered the most genuine kindness and generosity from locals. In Turkey I sat on a mountaintop and watched dozens of hot air balloons drift across the skyline at sunrise, I soaked in ancient hot baths, I was scrubbed cleaner than ever in a Turkish bath. The Philippines’ marine adventures didn’t disappoint; I came face-to-face with biggest fish in the ocean – the whale shark! I sank to 110 feet below the ocean’s surface and swam through old World War II shipwrecks, and I tried unsuccessfully to keep track of the countless sharks swimming in the crystal clear waters below me as I dove the world’s second largest barrier reef.

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When people ask questions about my employment status, they are concerned about money, however my love for Plan A goes much deeper than this – I work for people who love and care about nursing and me. This is more rare than it should be.  I’ve been encouraged more than once by Plan A’s founder Sheri Tomchick to continue my adventures.  The support to do what I want personally and professionally is life-giving. It inspires me to work hard when I am home, it stretches my compassion and understanding in all situations. My work at Plan A has grown me professionally by its indirect investment in me personally.

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Maybe travel isn’t what fuels you. Maybe it is time with your family, working for a cause you believe in, or feeling unwaveringly supported by your employer. I can’t imagine a scenario where Plan A isn’t an incredible employment option. Then again, maybe you are like me. Maybe you dream of travel, and your feet itch for the unexpected and obscure destinations that no typical two week vacation period could provide. In addition to the last three months, in this past year Plan A has allowed me the flexibility (and funding!) to spend one month in Bermuda, two months in Alaska and the Yukon, a week in Cuba, and three weeks in Argentina and Chile. I’ve climbed mountains and salsa danced, delivered baby goats and watched pods of whales swim into the distance. So, I guess the ‘secret’ is out. The key ingredient to my fulfilling life of adventure and spontaneity is my work at Plan A Health Care Staffing Solutions Inc. It really is the #BestJobEver.

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So…What is Music Therapy? Part 2

Music Therapy or Not Music Therapy – that is the question!

As March comes to an end, I have to thank several people and outlets that have let me share about music therapy. One of those people is Sheri Tomchick and The A Dot Team. Thank you!

There are new outlets that are recognizing Music therapy Month at a national level. This is the first year that Health Canada’s Calendar for Health Promotion Days recognizes March as Music Therapy Month. Go see for yourself: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/calend/index-eng.php

I hope you enjoyed the past blog on the different elements of music therapy. Today, I would like to share what is music therapy and what is not music therapy.

Accredited Music Therapists are trained healthcare professionals like Registered Nurses, Registered Social Workers and Registered Physiotherapists. We are educated at a University level by majoring in Music Therapy at a Bachelor’s or Masters Level. This education provides us with the skills to develop music therapy sessions to work with:

  • Older adults to lessen the effects of Dementia.
  • Children and adults to reduce Asthma episodes.
  • Hospitalized patients to reduce pain.
  • Children who have Autism to improve communication capabilities.
  • Premature infants to improve sleep patterns and increase weight gain.
  • People who have Parkinson’s disease to improve motor function.

There are several ways music can be used therapeutically in many different settings.  (And I highly recommend the use of any of these approaches in the appropriate setting.) These examples of therapeutic music are very useful, but are not clinical music therapy:

  • A person with Alzheimer’s listening to an iPod with headphones of his/her favorite songs.
  • Groups such as Bedside Musicians, Musicians on Call, Music Practitioners, and Sound Healers
  • Celebrities performing at hospitals and/or schools
  • A piano player in the lobby of a hospital or nursing home.
  • Nurses playing background music for patients
  • Artists in residence
  • Arts educators
  • A choir singing on the pediatric floor of a hospital
  • From Kimberly Sena Moore, Ph.D., MT-BC, Music Therapy Maven

It is important to make sure an Accredited Music Therapist is involved if you are participating in ‘music therapy’. To find an Accredited Music Therapist near you, please check out:

http://www.musictherapy.ca/en/information/mta-credentials.html

or

http://www.musictherapyontario.com/find-a-music-therapist

I welcome you, the reader, to contact me if you wish to learn more about music therapy or Kadence Music Therapy. Please connect with me online:

Email: contact@kadencemusictherapy.com
Website: http://www.kadencemusictherapy.com
Facebook: Kadence Music Therapy
Twitter: @kadencemt

It has been a pleasure blogging for The A Dot.

Sincerely,

Kylie Klym RP, MTA

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