Any entity that absorbs new individuals into its organization tries to start it all off by some form of indoctrination. This doesn’t always have a negative connotation and in many cases it says something about the kind of place one is going to be working at. There are however conflicting streams at work here as my enthusiasm to begin work has waned somewhat. It may seem that the excitement would have been more exuberant but inside I was using all of the motivating tricks I could in order to get myself going. Why would this afflict me in such a manner such as this? I wondered in silence about this. This isn’t about work. I am very fortunate to be here and to be starting this position. The job came at just the right time. It took a bit of patience to get through all of the bureaucratic processes needed for me to be officially accepted into the fold but the day has finally arrived.
When I was on my sabbatical from work unpacking I oftentimes awoke early in the morning unable to continue sleeping. Oftentimes it was five or six in the morning and I was full of energy unable to lay there. On my first day I awoke feeling sluggish and slow. It took more than just coffee and fresh air to get me going. Sitting there at the beginning of the presentation what I was about to go through was going to be informative and that some attention had to be paid to what was going on. They were going to talk about the way this system operated and what the central their values are. Values are an important central organizing theme through which an organization makes its decisions. It is meant to be something that inspires its workforce to do the best that it can. The healthcare profession requires people to be their best as we see all kinds of things and all kinds of people. We are involved at the most intimate and important stages of a person’s life. Sometimes they are joyous moments but often they are also hard times when it is clear that life will be missing someone soon.
In the UK I would have had to go through a yearly training session. Every year it is mandated that certain things are refreshed so that the most accurate and up to date information regarding the rights and obligations of each employee in healthcare are reviewed and reinforced. Important life resuscitation techniques are reviewed as are the proper safe techniques related to patient mobility and transfers. I will have to endure these sessions myself. The health authority mandates that each new incoming employee undergo these days before any work commences. All of the important information regarding benefits and how to manage one’s online work profile to access all of these things was covered first. I felt the lids of my eyes become heavy as slide after slide was shown with various different pieces of info.
Health and Safety is in the best interest of everyone involved. We went over how all of the various hazardous materials are labelled and how we deal with incidents involving them. They didn’t reinforce fire safety as much as they have in the UK. They did go over the importance of reporting incidents as well as near misses so that these incidents can be tabulated and learned from. Change happens when there is an incident that causes something serious. The system wants to anticipate these tragic events in order to prevent them from happening in the first place.
We had the classic hand washing presentation that talked about the seriousness of nosocomial infections. Those are the infections that are acquired in the healthcare setting. The most important part of preventing the spread of infections is hand washing. Traces can be made of the people that have come in contact with a particular patient and those workers can then be warned of any potential hazards that they have encountered. There is an increasing number of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and the loss of these pharmaceuticals signals a change in how healthcare is managed. Increasingly the strategy is turning towards containment of the pathogens until a patient is healthy enough to deal with it. Antibiotics give us the opportunity to heal. Bacterial infections cause our bodies to focus on them by instigating a cascade of reactions within our body to resist that intrusion. That takes those resources away from healing the original cause of their visit to the hospital in the first place. This is important but it is up to the individual to be disciplined enough to follow the guidelines.
Speaking of resistance we are also expected to be immunized against a host of viruses. These behave differently from bacteria as they rely on our mechanisms to thrive. Immunization allows the body to be resistant to these diseases by having antibodies that recognize them and neutralize them. So we are taught about defending ourselves as well as those in our care from the pathogens that may potentially cause harm. These things are all around us waiting for an opportune time and favourable events to coalesce allowing them to flourish. These topics are familiar to me from my studies and general interest in the news. We have had health scares in different parts of the world that have resulted in hysteria initially and then over time have calmed down as the problem was isolated, studied, and mitigated. This approach is scaled down to the individual within a hospital setting. We have tools at our disposal that allow us to understand the problems much better than ever before. The problem with dealing with this is often financial it limits the resources available to deal with the problem necessitating the need for strategy to deal with situations as they arise. Situations invariably arise as we all know.
Not only do we have to look out for things that we can’t see but we also have to look out for people doing us harm. Anyone could be a threat. It can happen Anywhere and at Anytime. We moved on to Workplace Assessment Violence Education (WAVE). The presenter of this series of slides was really enthusiastic about this topic. He stood out because he was in shape, in really good shape actually. He told us a bit about his background and all of the things that lead him to becoming an employee of the health region. He emphasised his law enforcement experience and how attitude affects how we behave at work. He spoke to us a few times during the day and would be involved with our Manual Handling training although they call it Transfer Lift Repositioning or TLR training here. There is a love of acronyms here. Basically we have to assess the situation that we find ourselves in at all times. People undergoing treatment or those who are watching loved ones going through it have tremendous pressures and stresses on their shoulders. The presenter relayed something from his own experience as he talked about getting an epinephrine shot to counteract a reaction to a bug bite. He was never warned about the side effects and those caused him considerable discomfort leading him to react physically. He woke up handcuffed to the bed and was further shamed by some paperwork he had to get signed following his ordeal. It illustrated the need for communication that needs to happen at every stage of an interaction. Always approach a person from an oblique angle and assess the person’s likelihood of violent behavior.
We finished off the day by going through all of the steps of safely lifting a box off of the floor. It sounds simple enough but the body mechanics involved in this task does not come naturally to a lot of people. Many more than expected. Back injuries are one of the leading causes of workplace injuries and it is important for any employer to instruct their employees in the correct posture required for this activity. I’ve been lifting and carrying things all of my life and this something that I myself have worked on as the older I get the more important it is for myself to maintain physical well being. This is the importance of squatting properly. The strength and dexterity required for this exercise will be what helps determine healthy back longevity.
There was another day of this. I should be happy and excited that I got a new job but for whatever reason this wasn’t satisfying. This is a mandatory training session that I have to attend. I was in despair as my two and a half month sabbatical from work came to an end. Valentines day was tomorrow and I had given my love her present already in the form of a mustache that I shaved off in the morning. Chrl has a thing for ‘staches and since I allowed my facial hair to reach epic proportions I could fashion it into anything I wanted. When Chrl and her partner were practicing their oral presentation I had just come out of the shower with it newly formed. Her partner got a bit tripped up and couldn’t look at me without laughing a little. Their presentation dealt with a legal argument so I figured that if they were able to remain composed with me looking at them while stroking my remaining facial hair they’d do alright. They presented while I was in training.
My malaise continued throughout the next few days. I think it had to do with the upcoming relationship appreciation day. I tried to get better sleep but it often seems like it is a lottery. The only thing that can be controlled is the amount of activity that facilitates the need for rest. We began the next day of inductions with union representatives meeting with us and informing us of our rights as workers. Anything related to workplace activity can be discussed with a union steward and we can have a representative with us acting as a witness during any reprimands that we may or may not receive during the course of our career. We moved on to healthy workplaces and privacy. This extends to talking about anything related to work and the potential for dismissal. This is an issue that I am acutely aware of. I can’t go around discussing the specifics of what I do and to whom. There is probably too much identifiable information for someone with nefarious intent to cause irreparable harm to my career. Social media is a big culprit in this. We talked about instances in Canada where to much info was shared by someone from the inside. This info was then seen by someone and reported to the authorities. Often this leads to dismissal.
Hot on the heels of this discussion we had a presentation on Ethics. The presenter was a doctor of philosophy and dealt with counseling the health region regarding ethical quandaries that sometimes come up during the course of day to day operations. People from diverse backgrounds, laws and regulations, beliefs, as well as differing opinions coalesce into difficult situations. Situations that need to sometimes be explored more philosophically. Bioethics exist to deal with issues that are specifically tied with medical quandaries.We discussed an exemplary ethical dilemma and listened as different factors affected the outcome of our decision. The original theft is seen with an increasingly different perception once various aspects are factored in. I enjoyed this discussion as we actually had a bonafide expert and not a presenter winging it about a topic.
We next dealt with an issue that is a dark spot in Canada’s history. That has to do with the treatment of First Nations people of Canada. The presenter wanted to talk about a difficult issue and kind of stumbled in some spots. In her defence it is a hard subject to talk about without charging it politically. The issue is a longstanding policy of the Canadian government to assimilate the original people of Canada into the colonial milieu. This would make it easier for the government to undermine that population and take over their land. All throughout Canada there are Treaty negotiations that are ongoing. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission delved into Residential Schools and their impact on this population of people. Imagine having your children taken away from you and be placed in boarding schools. There the children were forbidden from speaking their native language and also prevented from practicing their traditions. This was cultural genocide and it lasted for a long time. Inside the schools pupils were subjected to punishment for not conforming to the norms of their particular supervisors. The result of this government policy is the fracturing of a population. Social problems developed as traditions and knowledge were diminished and erased. The video that we watched had people that went through this trauma talking about the impact that it had to them and their communities. Imagine if it was your family that had to endure this.
Quite the heavy topic after lunch but it is important to have this perspective in mind. I am now living in a new province in a different part of the country. The relationship out here between people is different than the one in BC. It is something about Canada that is not often mentioned but it is a view that always finds new ways of expressing itself in our society. We can see this in the form of immigrants coming to a new place and seeking a better life. There can be a backlash and a nationalism springs up to counteract the perceived threat to the fabric of society. First Nations People were seen as inferior to colonial people and the thinking behind residential schools was to educate or civilise the people. Today we see what the government has done with shame but outstanding treaties have not been upheld or finalized and the shame hasn’t materialized action to mitigate the wrongs that were done.
The rest of the day went to more discussion and presentations about further aspects of our jobs. We participated as much as we could and towards the end were shown how to find work using the website available to us. In the end we evaluated the presenters and left late from the orientation. It was a bit frustrating to leave late. I had dinner to cook. I’ll address that in another post.
The final day had to do with TLR or manual handling. We were instructed by the excited man from a few days ago. He was enthusiastic with his instruction and we all got to be both the patient and the mover using all of the various equipment that we were expected to use. Some of this equipment is missing from the UK like the overhead patient lift. THis would greatly reduce the amount of injuries suffered by staff during patient moves. There was three of us taking this course: a nurse, a physiotherapist, and myself. I was the only male in this course. Courses like this require our participation as we are able to see and feel what a patient is going through during a move. I essentially know what I am doing but I don’t have a certificate proving it hence this course. By the end of it all I was happy to go home having been thoroughly inducted into the new system.
The job situation in the province in the government funded healthcare system is somewhat dire for outsiders. The province has run up a significant deficit and there will have to be some belt tightening. Not only that but the contract that my union has with the government is expiring at the end of March and the provincial health regions are amalgamating into one in order to improve efficiency and cost. The combination of all of these factors illustrates all of the potential problems that can arise in the future. The impression that I have gained from the presentations regardless of how I felt going through them is that things get done here. There is a degree of rigidity that is needed but there is also a degree of reasonableness that ensures that projects get done successfully. Why is there a huge deficit? I don’t really know but I am endeavouring to learn as much as I can about this province and where I am. Colonial habitation stretches back about 150 to 200 years. People tended to keep going but a major influx of europeans settled here in the early 1900s. More history will follow…