Starting a new job during a pandemic

It was early March, I still remember the incredulous voices of my former colleagues when I announced I got a great new job at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH). What was I thinking starting at a hospital during a pandemic?

To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about that. I had decided on a career change. I wanted to get back to my passion, connecting and communicating with my community. I was thrilled to get the job.

Before I started there were phone calls about how my role would be unique. I would be redeployed on day one to help with the PPE program. So, that’s how I went from Senior Communications Specialist to frontline worker during COVID -19 (or frontline adjacent, as I like to say).

I met staff I would never have met working traditional office hours. I made friends. I felt frantic.

I spent 11 weeks as a PPE Team Lead, working 3-11 p.m. I learned about the science of transmission of COVID-19, the realities of PPE conservation, the challenges of ordering PPE during a pandemic where the whole world is looking for the same things. I learned how to properly don and doff. I learned to trouble shoot on the fly.

I met staff I would never have met working traditional office hours. I made friends. I felt frantic. I laughed. I walked 12,000 steps a night. More than anything I felt like I was making a difference. I was helping keep people safe and making sure that all of the staff could go home at the end of a shift as safe as possible.

I am now working in the job I was hired for as a Senior Communications Specialist. I work with different business units across the hospital sharing their stories and helping them communicate essential information.  It’s a job that during my first 11-weeks at MSH provided me with an amazing team that welcomed me but only saw me for a few minutes a day.  I was like a house guest who just shows up for dinners.

I can’t imagine a more immersive and intense way to start a new job. I am smarter, stronger and more connected to MSH than I would’ve imagined. I will be a better communicator because of it.