I had a job once that required me to attend lots and lots of meetings. With lots and lots of people. Most of them pretty highly paid. I’d get there on time. I was really busy at that job, and meetings were a necessary evil. In my naivety, I thought everyone else attending these meetings was of the same mind and in the same situation. That being “I have lots to do, so let’s get the meeting started and done so that I can get back to the business at hand.” WRONG. On arriving at these meetings, my first thought would generally be “Is this where the meeting is? Where IS everyone?” Slowly the other attendees would trickle in in pairs or trios, laughing and sharing completely non-work related stories. Ten or so minutes after the meeting should have been in full swing, the perpetrator of the meeting would show up WITH COFFEE AND COOKIES or something. Mill around the table. Get coffee. Eat a cookie. Share more stories….. Fifteen minutes or so after the meeting should have been in full swing, the perpetrator would encourage everyone to come to order. By now, twenty of my precious work minutes have been frittered away.
I confess! Perhaps I was wound a little too tightly. But after a few of these meetings starting this way, I was pretty irate. So I sat down, on my own time, and figured out generally how much each person made and broke that down into twenty minute “pay periods”. And I added up just how much that twenty minutes of wasted time was costing for all of us to sit there and chit chat and eat cookies. And I multiplied that by how many meetings we’d average in a year. At the next available opportunity, I shared this information. The cost was astonishing. And, I proposed that in the future we start on time, and if people felt the need to spend twenty minutes frittering that they do so at the end of the meeting so that I could get back to work. I was in my 20’s and the youngest at these meetings. I wasn’t well received, but the next meeting DID start on time.
Which brings me to the title of this posting. Orientation to a new job. An even more monumental waste of money and time and a huge financial burden to employers! Oh my goodness! Every new job I have I find that new and more elaborate layers of ridiculous things need to be done under the guise of “orientation”. I have spent literally hour upon hour in “orientation”. I have watched video after video (things like “Sexual Harassment and You”, “Blood Borne Pathogens”, “Age specific Approach to Patient Care”, “Playing With Radiation”, “Fun With Magnets”, “Checklists and How the World Revolves Around Them”, “Eating With Your Mouth Closed”, “Flushing After You Go”, etc.) each I am sure born of the need to defend the company against frivolous lawsuits from employees and customers. And I have done competency after competency. I have had to sign forms that verify that I have SEEN other forms. Listen, I used to run a program that placed Automated External Defibrillators into the community, and I still had to get training on how to use an AED. I could WRITE the book on that! I have spent hours and hours poring over this documenation, taking that test, and initialing that I have initialed all the things that require my initials. And I have saved these precious documents in triplicate. One for the main office, one for the facility where I work, and one for me to make future copies off of when the others are lost or otherwise destroyed in some sort of office natural disaster. Some of this stuff I can understand. I SHOULD prove that I can correctly start an IV, take a blood sugar, and insert a urinary catheter (although I do find that having to recertify that I can do these things annually to be burdensome…what? Have I forgotten since last year???), BUT WHY OH WHY do I have to take a test with questions like “What do the initials OSHA stand for?”. And “Name four things that we strive to achieve in order to maintain the highest customer satisfaction”. I’m a nurse! Do you think they’ll find it humorous that my number one answer was “Get “em out alive”?!! (kidding!)
OH, one of the funniest scenes in the movie “Save Your Back” or “We Got Your Back”, or whatever it was called, was of a secretary walking to her desk with a single package of copy paper. She demonstrated how to bend from the knees and not from your back to place this small item ON A DESK! She bent her knees about TWO inches to do so. I nearly screamed, “HEY LADY!!!! If you straighten your elbows, you won’t have to wreck your knees like that!”
And it’s not quite over yet! Thursday I get to go to something called a “Safety Extravaganza”. I almost can’t wait! I am hoping for freebies, like goggles, and a CPR shield, or maybe steel-toed boots (I can use those in Zambia this summer). Now that’s some safety I can use! Extravaganza? Hmmmm. Didn’t somebody once say “You can put a dress on a dog, it’s still a dog”?