Sometimes we don’t realize how much we love someone until they move on in life. Whether it’s our children going off the college, getting their first apartment, getting married, or those we have known for some time, changing careers or moving to another state. We get so used to their presence; we never stop to realize how quickly time has passed when their path leads them on to new ventures.
Today I went to the hospital where I took my surgical technician training. One of the instructors, who was new as a teacher when I went through my class, was there completing her last day there as an instructor in a hospital setting. She has this amazing job opportunity to work in a nursing school with more students and responsibilities. This teacher, who is also a friend, I never imagined moving past the hospital that we worked. She’s been there for twenty years starting out as an LNA to becoming a Surgical Technician to a Surgical Technician instructor. It is as though she was part of the foundation as the hospital began to grow. She is going to be missed.
Let me share a little bit about this woman who, although a short time for me compared to others, has been an influence in my life. Every morning before class there was always a warm smile on her face to greet us. She loved the students and the staff with whom she worked. Her enthusiasm for surgical technician work was contagious. She found everything to be exciting. Yet, she was particular about things being sterile and making sure things were organized. It was her mission that we understood how to work efficiently so that the procedures would start and finish smoothly, even for us as students.
This woman was and still is a cheerleader for co-workers, physicians, students, and her family. And her love and passion for life, as well as her job, were like sunshine on a sunless day. Her heart was filled with compassion for those who needed hope, struggling or in pain. One thing I remembered most was that if a student was struggling on a concept or skill she wouldn’t hesitate to take the extra time needed. Time after class was no exception. Her heart was eager to share what had become natural for her, where she would review and repetitively go over information and skills, in order that her students would succeed with confidence.
I smile as I remember the surgeries I assisted on, not having noticed her watching, where she would come running up to me after smiling wider than anyone could smile, with her own excitement to know that a job was well done. I’ve never known a teacher before, that put so much of herself into her job to be sure that her students truly understood what was being taught. She was serious when necessary, critiqued and instructed when mistakes were made, but never reprimanding to make one feel less of a person or a failure as they learned.
I’m sure much of how she taught was a result of her experience, her desire for students to do well, but also her predecessor who I also had the privilege of learning from. They both believed in teaching others all that they knew. They both had accountable passion, where they taught from mistakes they learned, yet sharing a wealth of information they knew, supported by an encouraging system of belief in their students.
There is more to being a surgical technician than knowing about all the different surgeries, remembering the names of all the instruments and what their purpose is, along with making sure things are sterile, being prepared for specific needs of each surgeon, passing instruments efficiently to the team. It takes knowledge, patience, tolerance, endurance, flexibility, compassion, a sense of humor, responsibility for one’s own mistakes and owning up to them, as well as being a team player among a group of different personalities that might clash from time to time.
I write this blog note as I was reminded of a moment in time where I was the student, at times being subject to things I wasn’t quite sure I would survive. Yet, as I walked into the classroom today, I found myself hugging a friend who carried me through some challenges in life. I might not be working as a surgical technician today, but what I gained from that class and the time I worked as a technician, was how much teamwork was vital in the outcome of life. Not just for the patient, but also for ourselves. Teamwork builds confidence, stability, unity and pride.
To my friend and teacher, I will never forget the skills you taught, your passion in life as I wish you well. Janva, continue to be the light for all those you teach so that they can spread your sunshine and passion in each day of their lives.