Sunday, February 7, 2016

Training herself into unemployment

Dianne Slane trained herself out of a job she loved.

Training herself into unemployment

Dianne Slane
Dianne Slane

Dianne Slane trained herself out of a job she loved. For years, Slane worked at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, particularly helping doctors handle the paperwork for electrocardiograms. They even trained her to administer them. Part of her job was to complete an electronic record of the procedure.

It was all good until the hospital got a new software system. "What I used to type, the doctors could handle by hitting one button and the computer would take care of the rest," she said.

Because Slane was so competent, the hospital sent her to Florida to be trained on the new system. Then she came back and trained the doctors. "The doctors told me I was going to train myself out of a job," she said. They were right, although she did stay on for a while filling in for various administrative assistants who were on leaves. When they returned, she was out of work as of June 2010, after 13 years.

"I would like to get into another hospital," she said. "What I really liked was going out and seeing the patients. It kind of made me feel good, knowing that I could help them in a way," she said.

She particularly appreciated the hospital's elderly patients. "They are funny and you learn a lot sitting there and talking to them," she said. 

Slane also would enjoy a job in a doctors' office. She believes that the front desk personnel sets the tone for the practice. "If you walk in and there's a cranky person, that's not good," she said. What does she contribute, besides the usual range of administrative assistant skills?

"I'd like to say I'm bubbly, but I don't want to sound like an airhead," she laughed.

Boredom is the worst part of being unemployed, and it frightens her that the jobs she is seeing are paying $9 an hour. That's really not enough. "You can't live on that," she said.

Meanwhile, she has been volunteering, primarily as an administrative assistant at the American Red Cross in Bucks County. "I volunteer so I'm not sitting around being a lazy blob," she said. But then, the Red Cross closed its Bucks office, "so I kind of got laid off from volunteering," she said, only half-laughing. Now she drives a Red Cross van, transporting children in a the Red Cross shelter to various programs and some of the shelter's residents to jobs.

She lives in Langhorne with her husband, who used to be retired until Slane lost her job. Now he works part time in a department store.

Update: As of December 2011, Slane is still looking for work.

  • Dianne Slane
  • Hometown: Langhorne
  • Profession: Administrative assistant, specializing in healthcare
  • Experience: Transcribed results for electrocardiograms. Also administered them. Filed patient charts. Handled scheduling. Excellent computer skills and ability to train others on software. Maintained patient confidentiality. 
  • E-mail address:
  • Dianne Slane's resume

Read past profiles in the Looking for Work series. The series continues here on Fridays.

Read my Jobbing blog for more news/views on the work place.


The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should do their own background checks.

Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or

Inquirer Staff Writer
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About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

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Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
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