Saturday, July 3, 2010

An explanation

So I mentioned the job didn't work out, but I didn't go into it too much. I figured I have some time right now, so I might as well. But first, a little background...

I have a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in counseling. I have a little over 2 years experience working with seriously mentally ill adults. (I received that experience after receiving my bachelor's degree. I decided I wanted to do a little more than what my job description entailed, so I ended up going back to school for my master's degree.)

I was what was called a case manager. And after a year doing that, I got a "promotion" to a team where I'd work with acutely ill clients who needed more attention, so I had a smaller case load. I also had to be on call, and my job title was changed to mental health worker.

After receiving my counseling degree, I ended up moving from Arizona to Washington. The mental health field has been difficult for me to get into up here. Most jobs that require a master's degree are looking for one in social work (and although I have applied for some of those jobs, I haven't been interviewed for even one of them), or they also want you to be licensed (which you have to have post-master's experience to get). So I have been looking into jobs that don't necessarily require a master's degree. I'm "over-qualified" for some of these jobs, but I need to get my foot in the door. Some of them require certification as a Mental Health Professional (MHP). In order to get that certification (which doesn't exist in Arizona, by the way), you have to have 2 years experience working in mental health (got that) under someone who is a MHP (don't have that, because the certification doesn't exist in Arizona).

So when I was told about an administrative job (clearly not my ideal or anywhere near it, but I'm desperate!) with a company that provides mental health services, I looked into other jobs with that company on their website before the interview. Unfortunately, I didn't find any I would be qualified for. So I went to the interview for the administrative job anyway. And while there, they saw my experience and education and suggested I apply for a job title very similar to Mental Health Professional and told me that working in the job would help me get the MHP certification (at least a step in the right direction to finally open some doors after living here 3 1/2 years). I told them I either didn't see it on the website or realized I wasn't fully qualified for it. But the man interviewing me insisted I was qualified and suggested I apply. So I told him I would when I got home.

Looking at the qualifications for that position, I definitely didn't feel qualified. But I took their word for it and applied anyway. And they hired me. Why didn't I feel qualified? Well, they wanted someone with knowledge of basic nursing skills, including nursing interventions. And they said certification as a CNA or its equivalent was acceptable to indicate the nursing skills knowledge.

So when I showed up for my first day of on-the-job orientation, I wasn't feeling very confident about the job. And within the first 10 minutes, I knew I was not in the right place. The position is basically an orderly position. I finally got my hands on a position description and understood why the nursing skills part was important. In the job description there are lots of things I'm comfortable with or even would be okay with (although not ideal). However, the "collects stool, urine and other specimens, as requested, on assigned clients" was a HUGE red flag for me. Yeah. There's a reason I didn't go into nursing. And there was also the "assists clients with hygienic care" part I wasn't comfortable with. I'd been told that first day something about wiping adults' butts when they refused to after they used the facilities. I honestly don't think I could handle that. I also was offered a series of the Hep B vaccine, with a warning that I might be exposed to various diseases through contact with bodily fluids, etc (I'd been told people might fling bodily fluids at me). There's even a note on the job description that indicates I'd be working with bio-hazards such as blood borne pathogens, sewage, hospital waste, etc. Woah. SO out of my league.

I admire people who can do that sort of thing, but I know I'm not one of them. Besides, while the pay was decent, I don't think I should have to go to work and suffer doing things that make me want to vomit or otherwise repulse me (or even make me extremely uncomfortable) just for the sake of having a job.
Administrative work is sounding mighty appealing if this is the only kind of mental health job I can get.


Elizabeth Larson said...

whoa! definetly not something that is for everyone. I worked as a CNA for a few months at one point in my life thinking it would be nice to give back somehow before I had decided what I wanted to do in life...and yeah, not so much for me. So I totally get it that it's not for you. Some people are just made for it, and are good at it. Not me! Keep looking and plugging along. It's too bad the job market/requirements are so different there from AZ. That just makes it so much harder. Good luck!

Jahn said...

"I have a little over 2 years experience working with seriously mentally ill adults. (I received that experience after receiving my bachelor's degree.....)"


I thought you got it on LinkUp.

Debra said...

Well, I did go on LinkUP after I got my bachelor's degree.... :P

conner posse said...

While I am VERY grateful for the people who hold the jobs of wiping adult butts and collecting "specimen"...blechh...I could NEVER do that myself. I would be so grossed out. I'm excited for you and the new job at the bookstore!