Stepping Down From Work
For the first time since starting college, I am not working. I am finishing my final year as an undergrad, and in the eight years that I have been an academic student, mostly part time, I have always worked. As a result, school has been one priority of many, but could never be my primary focus.
In the past four years I have worked in adult mental health, and in seniors’ care. Working in health and studying public health has been an excellent experience. I can appreciate how work experience really can compliment academic studies, and at the same time how my learning influences my work in human services.
We Need Each Other
Recently, new health orders have changed the nature of the work environment for me. Public health orders require vaccination as a condition of employment. This requirement has forced some of us to make uncomfortable decisions, to vaccinate when that would not really be our preferred choice, or to step down from work, sticking by our principals.
I am reminded that a vaccine requirement is not a policy to protect the worker, but the co-workers and the populations served. The mandate is there not to protect me, but to protect others from me.
Some of my colleagues have resigned. Others have made a different choice to keep their jobs. One person I know is lying to keep her private clients. For my part, I am taking this time to re-evaluate my career and my roles in healthcare. I am starting to re-evaluate my priorities and considering what will my life look like after school.
There is division between those who are vaccinated and those who choose not to, and this is especially evident in the workplace. There is inequality where daily Covid testing is required for one group, but not others. And for a time, only unvaccinated people needed to wear masks. I am of the belief that my medical choices are private, and so is my choice to vaccinate or not. The real reason I am stepping back from work – I am uncomfortable with the divisions that are forming around me.
I wish that people had more tolerance for other people’s choices and compassion for the situations that people find themselves in. Some people, for personal reasons, will not take the vaccine. That doesn’t make them an “antivaxer.”
Some people just won’t get the shot, so we need to find a way to move on as a society. Yes, sometimes that means stepping down from their role in healthcare. However, to those who choose to stay, and be subject to daily Covid screening tests, they are perhaps doing so under the spotlight of a disapproving co-worker, supervisor, or even manager. We have become less tolerant of each other, and the dividing line is becoming apparent.
This division is creating hatred and intolerances between families, friends, co-workers, and neighbours. People need to be able to make a different choice without being viewed negatively.
Diversity is Strength
In my view, we are at risk of loosing our tolerance to opposing world views. Diversity is our strength. Our ability to debate the issues is what defines a culture of tolerance and inclusivity.
Thankfully we do not all think alike. We are not of one mind following the one in front of us, like soldiers in a regime with ultimate control. We are free to choose our own minds, and we are capable of making our own choices, separate from the rest.
We have all become so defensive and guarded against one other. It is this fear that the other person is harbouring some deadly pathogen that puts us on edge. Regardless of our vaccine status, we are all human, and we deserve to be treated with the same respect as anyone making a different choice.
So please, next time you feel the need to ask someone their vaccination status – don’t (unless you are legally required to). Instead, ask them how their day is. Believe me that your compassion will go a long way to help bridge this divide.
With isolation, distancing, and loss of access to regular life, we need to be more caring and appreciative of each other. Let us not add burden to an already difficult situation, and remember that we have all been in this together since the start.