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Train of Thought...
June 2004 - Bondage

Now there is a word to get the imagination fired up! How often do you go home at night feeling you would love a job where you didn't have to think, didn't have to make decisions and didn't have to think about the problems of tomorrow? Those burdens, however, are the difference between being in a state of servitude and being a free thinking, trusted and valued employee.

Why do we sometimes, hopefully only rarely, feel trapped in our jobs? Is it an actuality or is it a state of mind I wonder? I have as many frustrations as the next person, possibly more. Where do these come from? If the truth be known my frustrations arise from my wanting to get things done quickly and efficiently, wanting to achieve my goals and bringing my visions to fruition. I, however, work in a bureaucratic system that is designed to obfuscate, to disempower and to encourage servitude. That is the culture, and I chose to join it. There is little I can do about it, so I should not waste energy fighting it. This does not, however, mean I should roll over and adopt the same values.

Rather I must look for opportunities to chisel away at the foundations of the existing culture. One of the ways to do this is to let people know we are thinking professionals not mindless slaves. This is an area where ANZSRS is making big waves in the health community and we must seize every opportunity to promote our Society as a responsible Society of Professionals. Registration is a key factor here, promotion of quality assurance - read spirometry training - is another, ongoing education, credentialling - read CRFS - and Accreditation are also cornerstones of a professional organisation. The thrust of these activities will ensure that our clinical colleagues will slowly come to recognise the expertise and experience we have as a collective group. It will not happen overnight, but the pendulum will inexorably swing from the point of servitude to one of respect and value. Every one of us has a part to play in this, whether it be working on standards or demanding support to attend meetings and to participate in ongoing education. Many of us have big hurdles in front of us but these hurdles are jumpable with the right approach. Rules are but a challenge to be worked around.

Before we can demand the respect we deserve, we have to believe in ourselves. This does not mean being arrogant, but rather believing in our own value. With that conviction, however, comes the responsibility to maintain our knowledge, to maintain our competency and to demonstrate, by action, the beliefs we hold. Without that, we may be confident but we will lack all credibility. In short, we would simply be arrogant.

Maintenance of professional standards is one reason why CRFS is so important - not only for those attempting the exam but equally for those tutoring the candidates. Since CRFS defines but a point in time, we should also have a "MOPS" system in place as part of a registration process.

Cultural change happens slowly. I believe it is true, however, that it tends to follow an exponential path. There is no doubt in my mind that the change has started and has gone well beyond the point of being an experimental push. Your Boards and Executives, current and past, need your support to ensure the momentum continues to grow. They also deserve a big vote of thanks for the changes that have been achieved.

Pick the battle to be fought very carefully. Build your reputation for winning those battles and you will find the battles become bigger and your successes greater. Leave the frustrations behind and accept the culture in which you find yourself as being an external influence you have to manage. See obstacles as opportunities.

Bondage, then, is as much a state of mind as it is a physical encumbrance. Putting your frustrations in perspective will break a lot of the shackles that may well be weighing you down at the moment. Put your energies into what can be achieved and each piece of the foundation that crumbles away, as a result of your chiselling, will help make change inevitable. Above all else make sure you enjoy coming to work - at least most days!

Till next time,

Kevin

June, 2004

kevin.gain@health.wa.gov.au

 

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