Adaptability, flexibility, and change are all things that are not my friend. I like things to stay as routine as possible.
...and then COVID-19 happened.
When you first come into this program, you are taught that you will have to be flexible when it comes to conducting service. Service for each member looks different because we all play different roles at our host sites. For me, I serve as an Outreach Coordinator at the Jacksonville Speech and Hearing Center, but being flexible is important for every position with NHC. We learn how to think on our feet and how to adapt to any situation we might be faced with. Working in public health, being adaptable is crucial, since each day is different, i.e., we’re experiencing a pandemic, and everything has needed to change.
Luckily, the National Health Corps Florida has prepared me for that.
Like many others, my day-to-day routine has been flipped upside down due to the current pandemic. I stopped serving in my office and started serving from home. I converted the vanity in my room into a desk. I stopped doing community outreach in person. Zoom meetings became a daily thing. A lot of change has happened since March, and I’ve had to adapt to a lot and be more flexible when it comes to service.
As an outreach coordinator, I found myself stumped on how to conduct community outreach while social distancing and serving from home. How am I supposed to help our patients if I can’t even be near them? I had to be creative, figuring out how I can still serve the Jacksonville community from home. I was frustrated and discouraged. But then I realized, I was prepared for this. Our training taught us how to move forward and adapt in situations like these.
As time went on, I began to come up with different initiatives on how I can still serve our patients. This included calling them to see if their hearing aids are working correctly, if they needed any repairs, etc. I also began to develop procedures and protocols for our clinic to implement once we were able to start seeing patients in the office again. I had to embrace the major changes that were happening around me, and accept the new “normal” of service, and once I did that, I was able to tap in to my creativity so I could help our patients.
Now that I’m back in our clinic because we’re allowed to see patients in person again, I am thankful for my time that I had to serve from home, because it forced me to be creative, and to be more adaptable. It has taught me that no matter where you are, you can still help those who need it the most.