Day 171 - Chris (2nd person I approached)
June 20, 2014 - Chris was wearing what looked to be hospital scrubs, when I approached him. He asked how long I needed to chat, and then said he had time. I asked if he was on break from work.
“No, I start at 7pm. I’m just filling time waiting. I like to get there at least 30 minutes early,” he said. It was 6pm. Clearly he’s dedicated.
Chris was born and raised in Port Alberni, at the head of the Alberni Inlet on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (BC). His father is Dutch, and his mother is from the Philippines.
“I have an older sister. She’s 15 months older than me. We got along pretty well as kids, but like most siblings, it’s gotten better as we’ve gotten older,” he said. In Grade 5 the local school boundaries were redrawn and Chris had to change schools.
“It was ok, there were other kids I knew from the first school who lived on the same side of town that I did, so I knew other kids already. In Junior high we all switched schools again, which meant I saw the other kids from the first elementary school I went to,” he said. Chris had a particular liking for sciences and math.
“I remember competing in the Provincial Math Finals and I only got one question wrong. To this day I remember that question. I probably couldn’t even do that math anymore, but I remember that question. I really liked Chemistry as well,” said Chris.
When it came time to go to university, Chris made a conscious decision to leave the Island.
“A lot of my friends went to UVic (University of Victoria) because they wanted to stay on the Island. I wanted to explore and venture out into a bigger city. I also was interested in Pharmacology, and there wasn’t a Pharmacology school at UVic. So I moved to Vancouver and went to UBC (University of British Columbia),” he said.
“When I started I was taking General Sciences. I thought that as I liked chemistry in high school, I’d like to go further with that. I was able to go back home during the summer and worked in a Pharmacy. There's an organization at UBC called iCON that helps students find volunteer work to gain experience in relevant fields. I did volunteer work in a Seniors care home as well. I was considering becoming a pharmacologist. Organic Chemistry kicked my ass,” said Chris, laughing while looking like he was going to curl up into a fetal ball of anxiety.
“After two years, I switched to BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology) and enrolled in the Nursing program.”
The Nursing program didn’t allow any time for Chris to go back to Port Alberni. For the next three and half years, Chris lived in a basement suite in Vancouver and went to school full-time.
“I was able to transfer some of the credits from UBC toward my nursing program. I got credit for the biology that I had taken, so the two years at UBC were still to my advantage,” he said. After completing the nursing program, Chris decided to take some time off.
“I had just put in five and a half years of school, and I wanted a break. I didn’t really do anything. It was time to just relax and take things easy. After two months off, I started to look for a job. It was harder than I thought. It took me another three months to find work, so in the end, I had five months off after school.” Chris got a job working at a local hospital.
“I’m working in the Neurological Sciences ward. We’re looking after patients who have had brain surgery, or trauma because of injury or disease. I’ve been on this ward for over two years now. It’s an amazing team, I learn every day and it’s a very supportive environment,” said Chris. His girlfriend is an Architect. They’ve been seeing one another for about four months.
Even though Chris is working hard and paying off his student loans, he’s already thinking about his future.
“I’ve been thinking that after paying off my debt from five years of school, somewhere down the road, I might go back to school. UVic has a double Masters program in Nursing and Health Sciences Informatics. That’s four years,” he says.
“I’d maybe have to move to Victoria, but nowadays you can do a lot via distance learning. We’ll see.” Informatics seems to be the new buzz term in health care. I asked Chris what it means in this instance.
"It’s looking at how we deliver health care. Simplified, it’s delivering care utilizing technology. So instead of having a patient's chart on paper on a clipboard at the end of their bed, it might be on an iPad, or at least in digital format. It’s about the science of administration. There’s opportunities for going further into administration and the set-up of care, the planning. And research as well,” says Chris. We agree that a double Masters program is a lot of work.
“Yeah, it would mean another four years of school, and more student loans. It’s recommended that you not work at all while in the program. It’s that intense.” #notastranger