The Commuter Club

March 19, 2010

My commute is about as far as it can possibly be on this island. I live on the Northwest (ish) corner of the island, and I work on the Southeast corner. Without traffic, it’s about 45 minutes, but with traffic it’s an hour and a half. Luckily, my shift avoids rush hour.

As I’ve said before, this is my second week of work. Sadly, I already got a speeding ticket last Friday on my drive home.

They seem to have a surplus of cops here, and what makes it worse is that most of them aren’t even in marked police cars. Apparently, the Hawaii PD solved a budget problem by having cops use their personal cars as patrol cars. So you’ll see a normal looking SUV, but it has a blue light sitting on top, and that’s the enemy….well, the commuter’s enemy anyway.

I actually got pulled over by a motorcycle cop waiting for me under an overpass, so this doesn’t apply to me, but I think these unmarked cop cars are pretty sneaky. They’ll be sitting there innocently on the side of the road, and when it’s dark and you can’t see the light perched on top of the car, you could easily speed on by without realizing you just provoked a cop.

But to combat the overabundance of sneaky cops, it seems that Hawaiian commuters have decided to band together. I’ve started to notice that whenever someone passes a speed trap, they’ll warn oncoming traffic by flashing their headlights. I noticed it twice today, and I just think it’s so considerate. I decided to pass the favor on myself when I saw the evil cops waiting in the shadows, and I’m sure I saved a couple people speeding tickets.

So that’s just another reason I love Hawaii’s aloha spirit.

It’s too bad I still owe $135 on that stupid ticket though (I was only going 60 on the freeway!!!)

Working Girl

March 18, 2010

I’m into my second week of training, and it’s been quite an adjustment!

The first week I went in from 10-3, did a little training here and there, no big deal. But this week I’m working full 8 hour shifts from 3-11pm! From 3-5 I’m shadowing my trainer at the ER admit desk, which is super fast paced and exciting…except half the time I don’t know what’s going on. Then from 5-9 I meet the other new admitting hires down in the IT training room, where we’re learning how to use the computer programs necessary for our job. Then from 9-11 it’s back up to to the front lines, where I continue to be excited and overwhelmed by the commotion of the ER.

I’m starting to get the hang of some things, like getting signatures from patients and giving them wrist bands. Last night I was running all over the ER, feelng very professional. I also got to register one patient, and complete a doctor change request, all on my own. I can tell I’m going to enjoy the job once I get the flow of everything.

Last night was particularly intense, because we had a young boy come in by ambulance who had been in an accident. He was flat lined when he came in, but there was a lot of commotion with identifying who he was, and then the whole family came in and it was really tragic. There were also a lot of other patients coming in all night, so the ER was really full. It might sound bad, but all of the commotion made me kind of excited…Maybe it made me realize the importance of my job, and it felt good to know that I could do my job and help the other people. The quicker I work, the quicker they are seen. I think I’m cut out for this sort of work.

I go in tonight for the same shift, and then on Friday I’m trainng with the switchboard operator all evening. Saturday I’m off and then Sundy I do my first full shift at the Admit desk. I’m pretty excited!

We’re still waiting to hear about that perfect apartment. We were able to submit a complete application on Monday, and they’re just verifying our information. I really hope it works out, but if it doesn’t, hopefully there’s something even better waiting for us!

Chasing Rainbows

March 10, 2010

Here in Hawaii, it’s safe to say that we get our fair share of rainbows. It’s been rainig a lot lately, so we’ve had quie a few. Today, on my way home from work, I snapped this picture, because the rainbow was the best I’ve seen. Of course, the picture doesn’t begin to do it justice, but I promise it was amazing. Everybody else pulled over too, to take photos (note the car in front of me). The pasture I’m stopped next to is a horse pasture (see the sign!), and it would have been great to get a shot of the horses and the green grass with the rainbow and the blue sky….but I was rushing to get home and don’t really have any photography skills. But a full rainbow is still impressive!

This has been my first week of work, and it’s been so great to be busy!

Monday was orientation, where we spent 8 hours listening to the heads of various departments talk about the hospital’s mission, vision and values.  We also watched movies on customer service, how to handle a natural disaster or flu pandemic, MRI safety, bariatric sensitivity training, Confidentiality, and so so much more. Castle Medical Center really does seem like a great place to work, and now I can be glad I didn’t get a position at any of those other hosptials! We got copies of the 2008 quality review, which illustrates the hospital’s superiority 🙂 We were ranked the best hosptial in Hawaii! Go Castle!

Yesterday I started training in my department, and it’s been a little less exciting. I sat at a computer for five hours yesterday, going through training modules and then taking quizzes on what I learned. I also got my uniform, which is an aloha shirt, of course!

Today was another 5 hour day, but I got to sit in with the PBX (switchboard) lady to get trained on the switchboard for the first half. Admitting covers for PBX when they go on breaks, so we have to  know how to do the transfers, page people on the intercom, and also how to handle codes! I got to listen in on the calls with a headset, and it was fun seeing how she handeled it all. She had to call security to go to the morgue for  pickup, but they call it the “holding room”….creepy!

The drive down and back hasn’t been too bad, except that it’s sucking up a lot of gas! I filled up over the weekend, and then had to fill again last night, and I’m already at half a tank! It seems like it costs me about $10 or more per day to drive there and back…but it’s worth it. Yay for employment!

Expectations of Excellence

February 21, 2010

I passed my driver’s license test…100%!

Who's a resident of Hawaii? That's right, I am.

They confiscated my California driver’s license when they gave me this one, and at first I was disappointed…but then I realized that it expires in April anyway. And now I get a license with a rainbow on it! Plus, it’s one step closer to getting residency for school.

I’m feeling more and more secure about my nursing school plan. As I was falling asleep last night I thought about how my expectations for myself have changed over the years. When I was in junior high/high school, and even before that, I always expected a lot. I was smart, my friends were smart, and I remember feeling like was wasn’t bad at anything. I did well at sports, music, school…and while it was a lot of pressure sometimes, I always felt that I did my best when I was busiest. Then in my Sophomore year of high school I got a part in the school musical, 42nd Street. It required going to after-school rehearsal several times a week, and I after complaining about it for a while, I realized I could just quit. There was time to find a replacement, so I told the director that I was quitting. That was shortly after I didn’t make the volleyball team for the first time. Then basketball season came around, and I didn’t even try out. I started to realize that I didn’t have to expect so much from myself. If the majority of other people can be mediocre, why not me?

Thinking back, I really regret those high school decisions. I regret a lot of high school decisions. They bled into my life after high school; I went to a school that didn’t challenge me,  I chose a major that didn’t challenge me, and I continued to expect less of myself. I always got A’s in school and held part-time jobs, but I didn’t have any exciting ambitions. My first full-time job was challenging, and I think that’s when I started to remember how good it feels to excel.

So last night, as I was falling asleep, I thought about how I want to be amazing. I don’t want to find just any career and be a good employee, I want to find a career where I can really excel. I want to be excellent, and I want other people to recognize that excellence in me. I think I can find that in nursing. I’m glad that nursing is challenging, because I want to be constantly challenged, so that I can constantly prove myself. I don’t want to ever forget how amazing I am , and from now on I want to set myself up for success…not just success, but excellence.

My first hospital job!

February 17, 2010

I need a phrase that expresses the opposite of  “when it rains, it pours”, because what I need to say is that when the good starts coming, it keeps on coming!

Today I got the official offer of employment from Castle Medical Center. They stuck me with a TB test, stabbed me in both arms to suck out my blood, and took my urine in a cup…and I  loved every minute of it. They’re trying to line me up for a March 8th orientation, but I think that I could be done with all of my pre-employment stuff in time for the February 26th orientation, so I’m rushing myself.

The position is per-diem, which  I believe I mentioned in a previous post, and means that I won’t have a set schedule, but will be able to pick up any extra shifts that might become available. So if someone goes on vacation, I’ll cover, and if there’s a special project I’ll be the one to do it, or if someone wants a day off, they can ask me to cover for them. The hourly pay is higher than if I was full-time, because I don’t get benefits, but I don’t mind for now. Hopefully I can move into a benefited position soon enough. They also let me know that a part-time position should be opening up soon, and that as an employee I will be able to snatch that up to get some set hours, in addition to any per-diem hours I take.

It’s really a perfect situation for me, especially since I’m planning on starting school again soon. It allows me flexibility to go on vacations also, since I’ll essentially be able to set my own schedule.

Look how pretty it is 🙂

There is a wellness center at the hospital that offers all kinds of classes, many of which are free for employees. I’m particularly interested in the exercise classes and cooking classes! I love a good free resource. They even have a Career Development department, to help you explore your career options with the hospital.

The Hawaiian adventure is starting to seem more permanent now! We both have perfect jobs that will allow us time to go to school, we have cars, we have each other, and we have beautiful Hawaii as a setting. I couldn’t possibly ask for more.

The Clouds Have Parted!

February 11, 2010

I know I’m the biggest baby on earth for having ever thought that my life was hard. I live in Hawaii on the beach with one of the most wonderful people I know, and I haven’t had to work since November. But it was just so hard to appreciate all of the good when I had the fear of permanent unemployment looming over me! But thankfully, this week, the clouds have truly parted, and the sun is shining through!

First, Filippo got the call from Luibueno’s, the new restaurant opening here in Haleiwa, that they did select him for a server position. Hooray! I knew they would hire him because he’s perfect for the position, but it has been months now since he first applied, so it’s been a stressful waiting game.

After he got the call, we had to drive to Backpackers to tell everybody (his friends are staying at the hostel down the street), and as we were coming around Waimea Bay and the sun was shining, I asked Filippo “Are the clouds parting? Are the dark and dreary days over?” Of course he has always had a better attitude than I have, so he reminded me that there never were any dark and dreary days. In that moment I felt a surge of hope that maybe all the hours of searching and applying and interviewing would finally start to pay off.

And I was right! On Friday I got an email from the Recruiter at Hawaii Pacific Health, a company I had interviewed with before, but had unfortunately not selected me for a Patient Service Representative position. Annie, the Recruiter, had sent me a flyer stating that a number of positions are open in the Revenue Cycle Department for Office Clerk. The positions are temporary, but a full-time, ten-week assignment sounds great to me!

On Monday I got called for an interview, which I scheduled for today (Wednesday) after an information session for the Nursing Program at Kapi’olani Community College. When I got to the interview, they had me take a very simple computer skills assessment, and then brought me in to interview with two members of the Revenue Cycle Department. They told me the details of the job, asked me about my experience, and then left me sitting there as they had a little discussion about me. When they came back they asked me what my goals were in the position, and I honestly told them that I was hoping to get my foot in the door, so that I could grow into higher-paying positions in the company, and that I was considering pursuing nursing within the next couple of years.

Apparently, that was what they wanted to hear! As one of them walked me to the Human Resources Department, he told me that his only hesitancy about hiring me was that I seem to be a people person, and good with patients, and this position is not people-oriented at all. Had I not just wanted that foot in the door of the company, he wouldn’t have selected me.

So, lucky me! Beginning March 8th, I get to work full-time. They haven’t decided on a location for us yet, but said they are considering the Harbor Court building, which is a gorgeous building downtown that I would LOVE to work in.

As great as this all is, it gets even better.

While I was waiting to go into the interview, I got a call from the Recruiter at Castle Medical Center, the Adventist Health facility here on Oahu. I had applied for an Admitter position, and she wanted to see me for an interview! So tomorrow at 3 I have another interview! Maybe I’ll get lucky and they’ll have to fight over me 🙂 Life is good.

I haven’t really been inspired to write anything this week. Probably the most significant aspect of my week is that I’m starting to have a change of attitude regarding the whole job search, and my entire plan for my life. I have been feeling like there must be a reason that I’m getting so much resistance in job searching and whatnot. I started to question everything, wondering if maybe my whole plan for the way things were supposed to go here in Hawaii was faulty. I started to wonder if maybe we shouldn’t have moved here, or maybe I’m choosing the wrong career path, or maybe I have the wrong plans for schooling…lots of confusion in my head.

So I took some steps to try to figure it out. I observed two speech pathologists in Honolulu, to get a feel for the career I had blindly been considering. I was able to observe some amazing cases, but strangely I couldn’t really see myself sitting in the Speech Pathologist’s chair. The women I observed were working with children with developmental disabilities mostly, and it became clear that this field requires a LOT of patience. The progress was slow, and with some of them it seemed like they might never reach a level of normal communication. I’m used to working with medicine that has quick results, and I like being able to give good news and provide solutions. Being a Speech Pathologist would require celebrating small victories, knowing that you might never reach the finish line with some individuals. I feel selfish and immature letting this challenge cause me to question my decision to pursue Speech Pathology, but I just can’t start down a path that I’m not 100% sure about. Maybe I do have the patience and temperament for the job, but  just imagined myself being frustrated with the job.

I haven’t completely written off the idea, but I’ve decided to consider other options as well. I’m feeling particularly intrigued by going to nursing school. I believe there are only three or four prerequisite classes I would need to take, and it seems like it’s easier to get into nursing school here than in California. I’m planning to speak with an advisor about it this week or next. The amount of time in school would be about the same as for Speech Pathology, and they make about the same amount of money. After becoming an RN, you can also go to grad school to focus on a specialty, or to become a NP, or even do anesthesia. So there are lots of options. We’ll see how it goes.

So besides my career/school crisis (which was really quite peaceful), we did some fun stuff this week. We went downtown on Tuesday for a concert in celebration of Mozart’s birthday, and we stopped by a couple galleries here in Haleiwa for Art Walk last night. We also had dinner and good conversation at a friend’s house on Thursday, and two nights of yoga. Oh, and I signed up for volunteer Docent training at the Bishop Museum downtown. It’s four hours of training once a week for two months, but it sounds really interesting to me, so I’m excited for that.

To sum up, here’s a couple of quotes from one of the books I’m reading, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle.

“One thing we do know: Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at this moment.”

“Whenever tragic loss occurs, you either resist or you yield. Some people become bitter or deeply resentful; others become compassionate, wise, and loving. Yielding means inner acceptance of what is. You are open to life. Resistance is an inner contraction, a hardening of the shell of the ego. You are closed. Whatever action you take in a state of inner resistance (which we could also call negativity) will create more outer resistance, and the universe will not be on your side; life will not be helpful. If the shutters are closed, the sunlight cannot come in. When you yield internally, when you surrender, a new dimension of consciousness opens up. If  action is possible or necessary, your action will be in alignment with the whole and supported by creative intelligence. . . Circumstances and people then become helpful, cooperative. Coincidences happen. If no action is possible, you rest in the peace and inner stillness that come with surrender. You rest in God. “

Beautiful Ceiling at the Mozart Concert

Young, Fabulous & Broke

January 24, 2010

Filippo and I went to the Waialua Farmer’s Market for the first time this morning, (which had an excellent selection of local, bargain-priced produce), and then to the Library, which was just down the street. While there I picked up a few books, and I’ve been having fun diving into them.

The book that inspired me to write this is Suze Orman’s The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke . It came out in 2005, so some of the details are a bit off  (it doesn’t take the recession into consideration), but most of her suggestions are spot on.

In particular, she urges her young, fabulous and broke readers not to settle for whatever job pays the bills. She wants us to make the career moves now that will set us down in a place that we will be happy with 20 years down the line, even if that means less income right now.

She writes: “I just made up my mind that there was a big difference between and job that simply paid the bills and a career that I could enjoy and grow in. I wanted a career. I want you to make that same choice for yourself. Yes, I know it is hard. Yes, I know it takes courage. But at the same time, you are in a perfect position to make that change. When you are young, fabulous and broke, you have far more flexibility than you will ten or twenty years down the line. Use that to your advantage today to build that better future.”

What sound advice for the place I am right now. I don’t have any job, but I’m limiting myself to applying for jobs that will make me decent money, instead of jobs that will give me an advantage in my future career. Sure, I’ve been staying within the medical field, so I’ve got the right idea. But since I haven’t had any luck actually getting a job, maybe it’s time for me to go directly to my career goal. So I left a message for Oahu Speech Language Pathology, asking if I could come volunteer for them. I’ve been talking about doing this since before I got here, but I had wanted to start earning some money first.

Go me.

Suze then goes on to surprisingly suggest that we young, fabulous people go into debt to pay for our living expenses, if necessary. Hopefully it won’t come to that for me. But her point seems valid:

The best way to make money is to look for an undervalued asset, borrow money to invest in it, and then hold on until it appreciates enough that you can sell it, pay off your loan, and pocket a nice profit. . . You stirke me as an incredibly undervalued asset. You have a great education, great skills, and great energy. You  have what it takes to succeed in a career that truly interests and excites you. . . All you need is time to make your mark in the field of your dreams. The time to pay your dues is now.”

What a great day! I started out in kind of a bad mood because my online job search wasn’t getting me anywhere. But then, at 2:54 PM, I got a call from an unknown number on my cell phone. I expected a telemarketer, but no! It was a woman calling from Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children! She wanted to set up an interview with me for a Patient Service Representative position!

Here’s the job description:

“Under the direct supervision of the department manager or designee, acts as a liaison between patients and the professional staff by facilitating clerical and reception responsibilities and assisting in administrative tasks.  Interviews, registers, admits, updates, and creates patients’ medical records.  Performs accurate, complete, and timely processing of all professional/ technical fees generated by department providers.”

I can TOTALLY do this job. I’m really hoping this is the one I’ve been waiting for. That wonderful job that I’ve imagined myself having since I got here. My fingers are crossed! I think I’m going  to keep having butterflies in my stomach until after the interview on Thursday morning.

In other good news, a friend (who is also job searching) told me about a job fair that we can go to on Wednesday. So if the interview doesn’t go well, I will hopefully have some other leads to follow from this job fair.

This afternoon we took a hike on the Kaunala Trail at the end of Pupukea Road here on the North Shore. It was a gorgeous hike, with some great valley views. The trail took us through a eucalyptus grove that smelled wonderful and reminded me of San Diego’s Balboa Park.  I also picked some tea leaves to make lei’s with one of these days. On our way back down the hill, we stopped again at the Heiau to see the view of Waimea Bay. A big swell came in again last night, so some of the crazy big wave riders were out, and it’s always fun to watch them risk their lives :p

I’m so relieved that my days of stressing out over the job search may be coming to an end. I’ll try not to count my eggs before they’ve hatched, but if I get this job, I am going to be SO excited. So everybody please send your thoughts and prayers my way on Thursday morning!