PUBLISHED: 4:58 PM on Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Nothing a little Gortex won't cure
I can't believe that I have been in Juneau seven years. There are days when it seems like it was only yesterday that I drove off of the blue canoe with my husband and pets in tow starting a new phase in our lives. The funny thing was that we intended to live here for three, maybe five years, and then move on. It was about career advancement at the time. Boy how things change!

When people find out that I work at the hospital, I usually get asked two questions. "Are you a doctor?" And when I say no they ask, "Are you a nurse?"

photo courtesy of Michelle Casey
  Author Michelle Casey, right, and her husband, Chris, a little soaked but happy after a day of fly-fishing.
While I highly respect both professions, I found out early on that my talents did not lay with providing direct patient care. First of all, I don't like blood, guts or bowel movements.

I have been working in the health care field for more than 15 years and most of that has been helping the people who take care of the patients. I enjoy knowing that what I do impacts your care, even if I don't take care of you myself.

There are so many different opportunities for work in health care that almost anyone can find work that they will feel is satisfying. Unless you are exposed to the different opportunities, you may never even think of health care as a career. I know that I didn't. I fell into health care by accident, but I love it!

So, what is the "Gortex" about? Well, when I interviewed for my first position at Bartlett, I remember going through a tough interview process. It seemed like the whole hospital was in the room, but it was really just the management team.

They asked a lot of questions about my qualifications and what I would "bring" to the facility but the questions that stuck out the most were about the weather.

"So, how do you do with rain?" Fine I said, I grew up in Seattle and I am used to low clouds and constant drizzle.

"Well, how about the dark?"

That was easy, I went to work in the dark, I came home in the dark and I worked in an office with no windows. Dark wasn't something that I was worried about.

The Gortex comment came about when I said "rain is nothing that a little Gortex won't cure." It is true.

Imagine everything that you would miss if you didn't get outside because of the rain. If we waited for a dry day, there are times it would appear that we would never get out at all.

My work at Bartlett has exposed me to all types of people and I get to meet new employees on a regular basis. It seems to me that you can usually tell who is going to stay, and who will move on, almost immediately. I have only been wrong on my assessments a couple of times, but I won't tell if you don't.

It isn't so much about the people who already live in Southeast, or have been here a least a year. There is a key when recruiting people from the "outside" - how well do they adapt?

Living in Alaska is a dream for many people. The excitement of living in the last frontier, all of this land and beautiful scenery is what people say they long for.

The allure quickly vanishes after you wear out your first pair of windshield wipers faster than you can believe, look up at the sky and wonder what that big yellow ball is that is making your eyes hurt, or shovel snow for what seems like days on end. This was the first place that I ever heard of people taking off work for a "Sun"day and not on a Sunday.

I found the key to living here is to be involved. Whether you are active with children, pets, intramural sports, outdoor activities, the arts or the multitude of non-profit agencies that need your assistance - keeping active and involved is the best way to stay healthy and happy.

Oh, and did I mention that the hospital is a great place to work?! I highly recommend that you check out the available opportunities to become part of the Bartlett team. The employees are your friends and neighbors and they care about what happens in the community. They are involved at work and outside of work.

As of the time I wrote this piece there were 26 positions posted in numerous departments, which required a variety of education/experience levels. There really is something for everyone. You should check it out!

As I mentioned earlier, we didn't intend on staying here forever but now we have no intention of leaving. Funny how things change when you are happy, contented and own decent rain gear.