In North Carolina, there have been two major hospital mergers announced. One is between UNC Health Care and Carolinas HealthCare System. The other is between ECU and Vidant. With mergers almost always come layoffs. In just the second half of 2017 hospital mergers have gone hand in hand with layoffs in Philadelphia, Boston, Oregon, Chicago, and more. It is near certain to happen in North Carolina as well.

It is always difficult to lose a job. It can shake a person's confidence, impact relationships and lead to financial hardship. But for health care workers, who have dedicated their lives to helping the sick and injured, to be told that their work no longer has value, that pain can be particularly acute. Especially as they watch the quality of care diminish at their former employer, knowing they could have made a difference.

A 1997 study looked at the coping mechanisms of people dealing with hospital layoffs in Canada. According to the study, preparation is the most important way to handle stress.

"Those using problem-focussed coping methods were found to cope more effectively than those using emotion-focussed methods. Advanced planning and coordination of outplacement services is recommended to reduce the trauma of closure and ensure a smooth job transition or relocation."

So if you think it is likely your job is in danger due to one of these hospital mergers, it is best to start planning now. Other effective methods included positive thinking, seeking help, and accepting the circumstances.

Religion and emotional expression were less effective at helping people cope, but still provided a positive influence.

Denial was not helpful at all.

If you are concerned about your job security as a result of the UNC/Carolinas HealthCare or the ECU/Vidant mergers lesson is this: the best thing to do is to start planning now. Teach out to your support network and community for help, and try to remain positive.

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