Sunday, August 22, 2010

Saying goodbye to: The Stollery Children's Hospital

Is it this time already? The days seem to be zooming by with lightning speed. Friday marked the last day of work for Dallas and I at our respective work places. Edmonton has been so generous with respect to employment for us both. When we first moved here I was able to transfer to a branch of TD Canada Trust with ease and carry on with my illustrious student-career as a bank teller, and Dallas started his electrician apprenticeship right away as well. However, we have both moved on since those first jobs in Edmonton. Dallas has spent the past two years with Optimum Electrical and I have been employed at the Stollery Children's Hospital for approximately two years as well.

August 20 has long been the potential date we would finish working and being the full-time job of transitioning to Victoria, but it seemed to come so quickly. I first came to know the Stollery in Fall 2007 when I did my first BSW practicum. I had an amazing preceptor (who is now a good friend) and started to figure out what social work actually looked like in a practice setting. The team of social workers at the Stollery and the University of Alberta Hospital (which exist in the same giant building) are a knowledgeable, hard-working, professional and dedicated group of individuals. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by peers who are willing to lead by example, encourage me to take on new challenges in practice and to serve the patients and families in our care.

After finishing my degree in spring 2008 I decided to begin work at the hospital. Though my status has been "casual" for a large part of my employment, I have worked a great deal. Over the years I have had the opportunity to work on every unit of the Stollery, from PICU to ambulatory care. I have worked on teams with brilliant staff and physicians, and have met countless families who face the challenges of having a sick child with strength and determination. I am truly honoured to have provided care to the children and families who have walked through those doors with the ever-smiling white and pink bear above them. Each one of my interactions has shaped my practice, provided times to grow and learn more about myself and those around me.

Given that we are moving to a smaller city, I do not know if I will ever have the opportunity to work in a setting like the Stollery, serving patients from 4 provinces and 3 territories. I consider it an honour that I have spent the past two years - the first two or so of my career as social worker - in such an incredible place. On Friday when I walked through the front doors of the massive building, my eyes filled with tears. I was able to spend much of the day sharing my gratitude with my co-workers and the staff of the units who have believed in and supported me on my journey. It was a day well spent.

What does it all mean? (like that silly double rainbow...) Well, I figure that I am going to spend a lot of time at work, b/c that is how things seem to go here in North America, so I might as well enjoy myself. Perhaps the word "enjoy" is superficial, because certainly I did not enjoy each day at the Stollery. Work loads were high and my job was to provide support to families whose children were sick, or dying, or somewhere in between. It was, and will always be, difficult work. But so rewarding, so rich. I hope that I will have more opportunities in the future to be surrounded by equally dedicated groups of people and see the resilience and light in patients in the darkest of times. Although I don't yet know what "work" will look like in Victoria, I enter the next phase of this thing knowing that I have strong roots. Thank you, Stollery Children's Hospital, for all you have taught me.


  1. yeah - that was an amazing first job with SO much experience to have under your belt. a well-written description of your feelings for this hospital - i am CERTAIN they will miss you. you are awesome. (i especially liked the reference to the double rainbow...heehee)

  2. Oh Rachel, what a beautiful post. Edmonton is a hard city to fall in love with, and becomes so much harder to move away from.

    I am thankful that I lived in the same city with you as you began your journey with seemed like such a good fit and I know you will be missed there. However, Victoria is waiting for you and your social work methods, however your talents become employed. xo, jennymccann, social worker, former edmontonian.