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Anika Adie

SFU Student Undergraduate
Health Sciences
Co-operative Education › Local Co-op

Experience Details
Application and Interview Tips
  • Practice makes perfect! Feeling nervous before a job interview is common, especially if you do not have much experience with interviews. I strongly encourage everyone to practice responding to common interview questions as you prepare for your interview. You can also find more job-specific interview questions online – especially scenario style queries. In addition to this practice, take advantage of the opportunity to do a mock interview with a co-op advisor. The SFU co-op advisors often have insight on the job positions you are applying for and can prepare you accordingly.
  • Educate yourself about the job! Research the company/organization and position to the best of your ability before the interview. You will likely be asked what you know about the job by your interviewers. Your response to this question will show them whether or not you are genuinely interested in working for them.
  • Work your angle! Know your transferable skills inside and out. Soft skills are especially important to show off because no matter what field you are going into. Communication, organization, and time management skills are critical for excelling at work.

Introduction + Preparation
Previous Experience

Although this was my first co-op position, I called on skills and experience from my previous jobs. My time in guest services equipped me with effective communication, trouble-shooting, and interpersonal skills. I have also worked as a tutor for several years in which I supported students with building academic confidence and study skills. This combined customer service and educational support experience prepared me to professionally respond to client questions, phone calls and emails; be empathetic with clients who may be stubborn, tired, and frustrated; and effectively communicate across language barriers.

During my Experience
Orientation and First Weeks

Orientation began several weeks ahead of my start date. As with all new Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) hires, I had to complete online coursework on the Provincial Violence Prevention Curriculum and confidentiality training before staring my new position.

Day 1 on the job was spent meeting my team (four other co-op students and several members of the VCH People Safety family) and learning the science behind fit testing and N95 respirators. Did you know that the “95” means the respirator is at least 95% effective against particles 0.3 microns in size? Also, the “N” signifies that the respirator does not protect against gases and vapours!

The rest of my co-op team’s first weeks on the job were more hands on. We got to try on all the different models of N95s, learn the process of fit testing, and begin fit testing each other. Before we knew it, we were running clinics for healthcare workers at Vancouver General Hospital, Richmond Hospital, Lions Gate Hospital, UBC Hospital and numerous community sites.

Day to Day

My primary job as an Occupational Health and Safety Assistant at VCH was to fit test healthcare workers who are likely to be exposed to airborne precaution spaces. N95 respirator fit testing reduces workers' risk of inhaling airborne contaminants and disease by ensuring that the respirator seals correctly on their face. In addition to fit testing, my team was tasked with electronic record-keeping, monitoring a fit test team email inbox, coordinating fit test clinics at different VCH hospitals and community sites, and general monthly progress reports related to respiratory protection.

Per WorkSafeBC regulations, fit test records are valid for one year. As a result, staff must be fit tested annually. My team strove to raise fit test compliance numbers in all applicable healthcare departments, especially in high-risk units including the ICU, Respiratory Therapy, and Emergency.

Learning and Adaptation

Over my 8 months at VCH, I have gotten the incredible chance to learn more about all sorts of healthcare jobs and explore dozens of hospital units. I have met many staff who have informed me about new jobs and subsectors within healthcare. One health educator I spoke to strongly encouraged my fellow students and I to pursue a career in health law, health computer science, or health informatics since she saw these fields as rapidly growing in the next few years.

Within my People Safety department, I have had the wonderful opportunity to shadow some of the healthcare professionals with whom I work. I have followed around a Violence Prevention Specialist, a Safety Advisor, and an Occupational Hygienist. Every professional has given me great insight into the possibilities of working in Occupational Health and Safety as well as the path they took to get there.

This job has been very team-oriented which has been a change from my previous work experience. I have learned that team dynamics make a significant impact on the workplace environment. I have concluded that positivity, gratitude, and effective communication are central to a happy team. I am deeply thankful that my fellow co-op students, supervisors, and overall department have encouraged team building, empathy, and genuine kindness for each other.

Accomplishments and Challenges

One of my steeper learning curves at this job has been acquiring the skill to run a fit testing clinic solo. My time management, problem solving, and customer service skills were put to the test on a few occasions. However, with time, I became increasingly proficient at managing the clinic with little to no hiccups.

Another big challenge was improving the communication between the fit test team and the various hospital departments. In particular, my co-op team and I had several incidences where we were bumped from a room in which we had set up our clinic due to miscommunications. My team eventually figured out the best people to speak to in each hospital unit to avoid these annoying situations. In addition, the co-op team came up with progressively effective means of promoting our fit test clinics and informing staff of their expired record.

Reflection & Tips

All in all, working as an Occupational Health and Safety Assistant at VCH has undoubtedly strengthened my desire to work in healthcare and passion for public health. My teamwork, communication, problem-solving, health education, and Microsoft Office skills have all greatly improved. I have gained invaluable exposure, knowledge, and insight into hospital departments, community sites, and the VCH organization. This job has increased my appreciation for doctors, nurses, and all healthcare workers. My time at VCH will undeniably continue to guide me for my future coursework and career.