Thirty years ago, I never believed I would be working in a hospital, dealing with tubes of blood and bottles of urine. At that time, my life revolved around music. I played piano, played clarinet in the school band, sang in the school choir and the church choir. At the age of 23, I graduated from Memorial University with degrees in music and music education, but after a few years of teaching I knew this just was not the career for me.
During high school, university, and my first couple of years of teaching, I worked part-time at McDonalds. The easiest thing to do at the time was to work full-time at McDonalds and work my way up their career ladder. Over the next couple of years, I learned the business side, completed courses in McDonalds’ management practices, and I did work my way up through their steps of management. As long as I was learning and kept busy, I was happy.
However, after the birth of my gorgeous daughter, the love of my life, I struggled and needed to put my life in perspective. I knew I didn’t want to be around burgers and fries forever and I knew I wasn’t living up to my full potential. I took a personality test one night that set me on a path of becoming a medical laboratory technologist. I waited three more years on a wait list to get into the College of the North Atlantic and it took me four years to complete the program. It was the most accomplished I had felt in a long time to have completed a very demanding program and to get hired into Eastern Health.
I have been working in the Biochemistry Lab at the Health Sciences Centre for five years, and I can honestly say I like my job! I’ve seen miraculous changes within the lab over these past five years including new instrumentation and standardizing of work procedures. Recently, we have been using Lean – the Toyota philosophy to standardize work, eliminate wasted time, supplies, work – to come up with ways to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care.
Recently, I have had the opportunity to work with the Lean team of managers. I’ve participated in gathering information and helping implement some new ideas on how we can improve our workplace. My experience at McDonalds has come out a lot! If the fries weren’t cooked, or the burger didn’t come up through the kitchen in time, the customers couldn’t get served. Here at Eastern Health, we are all dependent on each other as well. The doctors, nurses, lab techs, X-ray techs, housekeeping, porters, and basically everyone here, are all responsible for the service we give to our customers. Our customer is the patient!
Every time I hold a tube of blood or a bottle of urine, I am holding a patient. It may be a part of someone’s routine checkup or someone may be in a critical care situation and the results I put out may be in dire need.
So in the final analysis of it all, I can now say that I am living with a job that has a purpose and does make me feel fulfilled. And although it seemed to take a long time to get here my past experiences have helped me work in a fast-paced, customer-oriented career.
… And in my spare time, I sing in two choirs and still get to enjoy my first love, music! ■
This story was written by Sharron Power, a medical laboratory technologist with Eastern Health.