Peter Hico and Martin Hill are two healthcare professionals at the QEII Health Sciences Centre who care for patients every day, but in very different ways. One works directly with patients in the emergency department and the other works in a lab behind the scenes.
Despite working for the same organization and sharing the same motivating goal: to help patients get better, the two men had never met face to face before taking part in a volunteer job shadow event called Freaky Friday.
“It is a unique way to see other people’s jobs, work environment and pace,” says Peter, a QEII critical care paramedic.
Launched in spring 2018 by the QEII Foundation and sponsored by Johnson Insurance, Freaky Friday gave Peter and Martin the opportunity to step into the other’s shoes for a day to intimately see the role each plays within the healthcare system, and why they love what they do.
“It was definitely out of my comfort zone,” says Martin.
They didn’t literally swap jobs for the day — Peter wasn’t looking at patient test results, and Martin wasn’t looking after patients in the emergency department — but they did get a better understanding of each other’s roles and their specific areas of care.
Martin, a laboratory technologist in the QEII’s microbiology laboratory, spends his working days in a white lab coat peering into petri dishes to help doctors determine if a patient has strep throat or a more serious, life-threatening infection. For Freaky Friday, he stepped out of his busy lab and into the unpredictability of the QEII’s emergency department.
“It was fun,” says Martin. “Peter is a good guy.”
During a 12-hour shift, Peter, a friendly, extroverted person who smiles easily and often, never knows what is going to come through the doors. He does everything from casting broken bones to suturing head injuries, to tending burns. Wanting to give Martin, the quieter, more reserved of the two men, an authentic experience in the emergency room, Peter taught him how to insert an IV and cast a hand and wrist. Sitting back and acting like a patient, he then allowed Martin to perform the tasks on him. They joked that thankfully there were no screams, tears or blood during the procedures.
“He was very quick to pick up things,” says Peter.
Having the chance to get closer to direct patient care was something Martin appreciated since he is usually removed from it in the lab. In contrast, when Peter visited him in the lab, away from all the patients in the emergency department he found it “peaceful and quiet.”
Donning a lab coat and gloves, he enjoyed looking at samples in petri dishes, learning more about how to identify infections and the importance of not spoiling a single sample.
“You know that all the samples were collected from a human host. That was kind of neat,” he says.
Being able to look more closely at another person’s job, as well as step outside of your specialized job and see how it fits into the bigger picture, was both eye-opening and humbling for Martin.
“There’s thousands of people working at this organization and I only know a handful of them,” says Martin.
Freaky Friday proved to be a good way for him to get to know a few more.
“The day we got together everyone was happy,” says Peter. “Everyone felt proud of their jobs.”