Jumping In

So…I decided to do something that scares me. It is out of my comfort zone, I haven’t done it for many years, and I’m not sure if I can reach my goal….

I’m going to write an exam. It doesn’t sound like much when I type it out, but I haven’t written an exam involving therapeutics and patient management since my University days. It will require many hours of research and studying…time that I don’t really have actually. Between my sometimes more than full time work hours, home schooling and the boys hockey schedule, I’m not sure where I will carve out the study time. It seems crazy to add something so time consuming to my life.

The exam is to help me reach a goal I’ve been thinking about. Over the past year I’ve been contemplating what type of specialty I might pursue within Pharmacy practice. Not that I need one.  I can continue to practice Pharmacy as I am now, but to specialize will allow me to work more one on one with patients, as well as apply for further prescribing rights. So I decided to write the Certified Diabetes Educator exam. In essence this means working one on one with patients that have diabetes, but it also encompasses what I am passionate about:  being engaged with people, empowering patients with knowledge, and optimizing drug therapy.

As I’ve started to gather the material to study, I’ve felt myself many times wanting to just back out. What would be the big deal? I can go on as I am, I have a good career.  I don’t need a few extra letters behind my name and all this extra work.  Who needs career goals anyway?

And if I don’t tell anybody I’m working on this….well…if it becomes too onerous I can just not do it.  (I’m not even sure I’m going to hit the “publish” button on this post!)

So this week I’ve really thought about what it is I am truly afraid of.

Hard work? …..not really.

What I am afraid of is failure. What will it say about me if I fail?

During this week, within my circle of friends and colleagues there have been a few that have inspired me to just jump in and do it.  Their inspiration was unintentional and comes by way of them sharing parts of their lives with others; so I thought I’d share these inspirational people with you.

This week I took time to check out a web-site created by a couple colleagues of mine.  Hugo Leung and Kit Poon developed Pharmbase,  a site for Alberta Pharmacists to connect to each other outside of differences in practice.  It took a dream, an enormous amount of time and I’m sure significant financial resources to develop the site, and in my opinion, courage and fortitude to put it out there for their colleagues.  That is inspiring.

Over the past few months a friend of mine had to come to terms with the delayed growth and development of her youngest daughter.  Stephanie, a photographer and home school mom, stepped outside her comfort zone to allow her daughter to be poked and prodded by specialists,  and watch her baby go through numerous assessments and medical tests.  Reading her story continues to inspire me.

Licensed by flickr Shared by thriol

Another source of inspiration for me this week is a friend who was striving to reach a professional goal.  George, an educator and speaker who works for Parkland School Division, set out to produce a Keynote video.  Having never produced such a video, it was a task that took an enormous amount of time and energy, caused some frustration and had him working within uncertainty.  He persisted with the project and in the end completed his goal.  I’m sure there were times it was tempting to walk away from it, so I found this to be inspiring in my own decision to move forward and jump into a new challenge.

In deciding to do something I was afraid of, I also had to consider what I was teaching my boys.  I don’t want them to be afraid of trying something for fear of failure, therefore I need to model that.

 So, I have decided to just jump in.  To fearlessly move forward.  If I don’t do it, then the choice is to remain stagnant, and that is just not me.  I refuse to be defined by success or failure.

And perhaps I will have to re-read this post a few times along the way.

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Combination Education

This past week I was chatting with an educator in Australia about many things, including the unique school program I’ve been a part of for several years.  When she asked me if I blog about it (as she was interested in learning more about the program) I had to say no.

It got me thinking that maybe it was about time I at least wrote a post.  I’ve had many people ask me about the logistics of our school program and how it looks for the kids, parents and teachers.   So it’s about time I put pen to paper…or rather fingers to the keyboard, about this fantastic school program.

In the Classroom with the Grade Two's

Stony Creek is a Program of choice within the Parkland School Division.  The structure of the program involves 2 days of classroom instruction where students are in the classroom learning Social Studies, Science, Art and Gym.  The other three days a week students learn at home, in essence home school, in the subjects of Math, Language Arts and Health.

But this doesn’t explain what the program really is.  Part of the beauty of the program structure is that once a month every parent involved in the program is in the classroom with the kids for the day (about 40 families presently).  And on the other end, also once a month, the teacher comes to each student’s home so the student can share his home school work with the teacher.  In practice, this lends itself to the formation of a community where I, as a parent, know each of the kids in the classroom quite well.  I also know the teachers on a level that normally I wouldn’t by having them in my home every month.

Typically the same two teachers are teaching the kids from grades 1 to 6 so they get to know each child’s learning style, strengths and areas for growth quite well over the years, as well as getting a picture of their family life.  And it’s even better for the kids who are beyond excited every month to show their teacher not only their school work, but their pets, their hobbies and anything else they can drag out.  My kids always make tea for their teacher and love sharing a cup while they show off their projects.  And they equally love the days I am in the classroom with them.

Home School day for Ben

One of the best features of the program, for me, is the extra time it gives me with my kids.  Not to say that homeschooling is not a pile of work……it is.  The prep alone is time consuming, but the rewards make it so worth it.  My oldest son Ben just entered “regular” school for the first time this year and is now realizing how lucky he was to have 6 years at home and in the Stony Creek Program.

The youngest always learns with his brothers

My son Noah, in Grade Three, continues to enjoy the program.  He can explore topics he enjoys like History and Mythology, while covering core learning objectives.  I can tailor Math to his learning style and work one on one with him until he really understands concepts.  I have a choice as to what type of resources best fit my child for these subjects as long as Alberta Learning Objectives are met.  It really is personalized, child centered learning, at it’s best.  And the mix of one on one learning at home and group learning at school is phenomenal.

In the years I have been involved in Stony Creek I have come to have a deep appreciation for the teaching profession.  Many of my friends and family are teachers and many teachers I have worked with have become friends. I have spent amazing days in the classroom with kids I have come to love over the years, and have equally amazing days at home seeing my kids delve into areas of interest that we would not have had time to explore if they were in a classroom full time.

Engaged

Lately I’ve heard similar comments from different colleagues and it’s caused me to do some thinking. What is it that keeps me “in the game”?  What fuels my passion for my work,  my desire to continuously grow and change?

In any field, including health care, it is easy to become complacent.  Do the job, make no mistakes, go home and refuel so you’re ready for the next day.  I’ve had discussions with many colleagues over the past few weeks who are feeling burned out, unable to make the impact they would like, some basically waiting for retirement.

It’s caused me to think about the next 25 years of my working life.  How do I want to live them out as a professional?  What do I enjoy about health care and Pharmacy?  Tough questions, but I started small, thinking about what I enjoy on a day-to-day basis in my work.  Well….I’ll admit that it’s not the paper work, dealing with insurance companies or the myriad of technical functions that need to be done.  What I enjoy is engagement.

I love to debate the finer points of treatment strategy with colleagues. I love educating patients. I love solving therapeutic problems and making a difference in someone’s life.

These are the fuel for my passion.  I must admit though that there usually isn’t enough of that fuel in my daily work to sustain me.

Shared by Scalino via Flickr

Often when I work with colleagues there isn’t time to discuss patient care or innovative practice.  And a lot of the time I am working alone.  There isn’t much I can do about either of those circumstances.  Health Care is a business and the bottom line always stands.

I have found though, another source that was a big turning point for me in renewing my interest and passion for health care.  Since I started tapping into social media I find I am fuelled up and energized by the connection I make with other professionals and the constant access to innovative learning.  The networking I do with other professionals peaks my interest, has me exploring areas of health care I never would have previously, and keeps me active in “sharpening the saw” as Stephen Covey would say.

That may sound strange as social media is usually thought of as a way to connect and “chat” with friends.  I, however, have been using social media, primarily Twitter, to tap into a vast stream of professionals interested in doing the same thing I am. That is sharing ideas and resources and not being afraid to disagree and hash out a topic.

My twitter connections are varied in the fields of pharmacy, medicine, nursing, education, politics and other areas of personal interest. The posting these fine people do provides me with a continually changing, challenging and interesting access to learning.

One of the components I love about Twitter is the ability to hold the equivalent of an online meeting. Usually called a meet-up or chat. Some of the ones I participate in for example are #meded which are folks interested in improving medical education.  Also #hcsm which stands for Health Care Social Media.  These meet-ups involve interested parties discussing  the same topic at the same time.

I’ve also followed conferences on Twitter such as #med2.0 which was held at Stanford this year. Attendants at a conference send tweets out about what they are hearing and learning (along with pictures, slides, even video) and I following along can engage in real-time discussion with participants.

Bottom line for me is that I need to be engaged to find work interesting. If I don’t try to solve a patient’s problem, explore therapeutics or learn some new pharmacology, it’s not interesting to me and I’m just putting in time.  I need to keep expanding my world.  And with social networking that expansion has become global.