The World as I have known it for the last 15 years will be in the process of being turned inside out as you read this. I will have cleared my desk at Wellington Hospital for the last time, handed in my ID card and keys and said farewell to many friends and colleagues in every department of the hospital - and many patients as well. It is time for reflection.
When I came to Wellington Hospital all those years ago, I came to just that, Wellington Hospital run by the Wellington Hospital Board. We then became WellHealth and were run by a District Health Board. WellHealth in turn was followed by Capital Coast Health when we were a State Owned Company paying a dividend to Government (needless to say the dividend was rather large but negative!). Today we are again Wellington Hospital and run once more by a District Health Board. One is reminded of Grandpa's old axe; 6 new handles and 3 new heads, but it is still Grandpa's old axe.
During this time I have learned a great deal. I have learned how to do a great many things effectively. I have also learned how NOT to do things - possibly to an even greater extent! During what seems to have been almost constant restructuring, driven both internally and by Government, there has been one rock that has provided me with a sense of continuity, a sense of place. That rock has been my membership of ANZSRS. The friendship and support that has flowed from my involvement in the Society has formed the basis of my inspiration and passion for the profession.
I am not a sociable animal and it would not be unfair to say that I dread social functions. Why on earth then would I join a Society? I have people I am proud to call friends in every State of Australia as well as throughout New Zealand. Without attending the ASM's, I would be the poorer for never having met these people. Without being part of the Society my work in Wellington would have provided but a fraction of the reward I have reaped. Nor would the lab I am about to leave behind be even half the lab it is right now.
The networking that occurs at meetings has allowed me to reassess where the bar is and has given me the chance to keep up as it continues to rise. When I look back, the quality and professionalism of the service we deliver today far outstrips what we believed to be good service 10 years ago and I am sure the same will be true 10 years hence. I know that whenever I do something well, someone else is out there doing it better. That is good. BUT unless I listen and challenge, the bar is never raised at home. What better place is there to challenge - and be challenged! - than at ANZSRS meetings in the safe family-like environment they provide. Not once have I ever been put down for not knowing something or for getting it wrong.
My stint as Secretary was a very rewarding time and I learned a great deal about many things that had little to do with Respiratory Physiology. If I hadn't stuck my neck out, I would be much poorer for not having done so. Four months ago, I had no idea what was ahead of me when I "expressed possible interest" in being Web-site coordinator (let that be a lesson to you all!). Already ANZSRS.ORG seems to have taken on a life of its own. More to the point, I am thoroughly enjoying myself while helping (?) the Society at the same time.
I will shortly be heading off into the sunset as Royal Perth Hospital beckons me. I am filled with trepidation as I leave a heritage in Wellington that I will be judged on and will meet head on the expectations that precede me to Perth. I am also excited by the challenges that lie ahead. This leap is made easier because I know that I have the support and encouragement of a lot of people within the Society. It has indeed been very humbling how many members have contacted me to wish me well now the word is out. Once again, the Society is the rock providing continuity in an often turbulent life.
So, despite my being a loner by nature, joining ANZSRS is probably the single most important thing I have done while at Wellington Hospital. The second most important thing has been getting involved. The rewards of membership only truly start to flow once you get involved. I have taken membership for granted at times, and it has been very illuminating indeed to sit back and think about the last 15 years. Whether in Wellington or in Perth, I know I am part of the same big family and that is a truly wonderful feeling.
My challenge to you all is to cherish your membership - join first if need be! - and GET INVOLVED!
'til next time,
Kevin, August, 2002