“Did your father happen to be a science teacher at Britannia Secondary?”
Not the first question you expect to be asked when you’re called for a job interview. But that’s exactly what Three Links Human Resources Director Georgina Pon asked Jennifer Dalawrak when she called her about her application to be the care centre’s Clinical Leader.
“Yes,” said Jennifer.
“Your dad electrocuted me in Science 9!” said Georgina.
Fortunately, Jennifer’s tarnished family reputation did not overshadow her excellent nursing skills. She went on to be our Clinical Leader for four years, providing excellent, low-voltage support to the care team. As she approaches her retirement at the end of this month, the time she spends educating others is what stands out for her as the most gratifying part of her job her. “I love teaching Gentle Persuasive Approach,” says Jennifer. Her Wednesday GPA sessions are where she shares tips and techniques on how to have compassionate, low-stress interactions with people who have dementia. “I enjoy passing knowledge on to the next generation of healers,” says Jennifer.
As she thinks back on her career, Jennifer remembers studying at the now-defunct VGH school of nursing, where they used to starch their nursing caps, paste them to the fridge to dry and then fold them up and pin them to their hair. “In our first year we wore a plain cap,” Jenifer explains, “then in the second year we hot a blue band, in the third year we got a black band, and in our last six months we got a cap pin.” She also remembers the web of tunnels under VGH that allowed the nursing students to walk from their residence at 12th and Heather to the hospital without getting wet on rainy days.
After graduating, Jennifer worked for many years as an operating room nurse. Her biggest night was during the Stanley Cup riot of 1994. “They called code orange and I had to look through my manual to figure out that that meant disaster. I had to make a list of staff who were ready and make a plan for the night. In the midst of all that, the OR phone was ringing off the hook with reporters who had somehow got the number for our direct line.” By the time she finished her shift at 7:00am, much of the city had already been cleaned up.
After retiring, Jennifer’s next step will be to learn how to be a personal trainer and take a course in teaching yoga for overcoming trauma. She hopes to help people in middle age with health problems to turn their lives onto a better track. She’s also looking forward to keeping her dad company on his Okanagan apple-picking trips and making sure he keeps his batteries and wiring under wraps.