Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I Love My Job (ILMJ)

So, I've just finished with day 2 of my new job! For those who don't know, I'm going to be working as a therapist, specializing in addictions, at the Salem OR Veteran's Administration (VA) Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC). Just like most of the other things in Oregon, I am going to LOVE my job!! I have spent the last two days up at the Portland VA and the Vancouver VA, getting oriented and checking out their programs. The Substance Abuse Treatment Program (SATP) is based in Vancouver and it's made up of an interdisciplinary team of clinicians who treat addiction. The idea for my new job is that I'll be a part of the SATP team embedded in Salem. So, it was great for me to check out their program and meet all of the people up there. I started off my day in Portland yesterday. I met one of my bosses, Dave, who is really really great. They had me running around and doing a lot of HR stuff, getting a badge and computer access (none of which were actually accomplished...don't you love bureaucracies??). Then I met my other boss, Jim, who is also really great. He and I drove over to the Vancouver clinic where I was able to check out the facility, meet some people, and sit in on their interdisciplinary team meeting. I also got 2 bag loads of resources to bring with me to Salem when I go. Day one was totally crazy and an informational overload...but it was also really great. I was craving that kind of information about the program and the position and what it was they expected of me. So, it was great to be flooded with all of that! I was able to get a handle on my role and figure out what I'm going to be doing. Basically, I'll be functioning as an independent clinician in Salem and provide a linkage to the substance abuse treatment program. I'll be providing substance abuse consultation to the primary care teams, working with the mental health clinic, doing intakes and assessments for the SATP in Vancouver, doing individual treatment with those who need it, running a continuing care group in Salem for those who have been through the initial phase of treatment in Vancouver but live closer to the Salem clinic, and providing support and treatment for recently returning vets through the National Guard station in Salem. I am really really excited!!

Day 2 started off in Vancouver. I sat in on the complex condition team meeting (working with those who have co-occuring addiction and other mental health problems or who have complicated circumstances that would effect their treatment). I then sat in on the Access clinic and saw how new patients are oriented and admitted to the program. I tried to figure out the computer access situation a bit more (still not done) and then had lunch with Jim. He continued to fill me in on the program and the exciting things they are doing. He has proven to be very helpful, supportive, and just an all around great supervisor. In the afternoon I headed back over to Portland. I had a few hours to kill before meeting with Dave, so I said hi to some other LA transplants who work at the VA. Gian and Adam both gave me great tours of the VA and the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) which is a big teaching hospital that is connected to the VA by this beautiful sky bridge. Here is a picture from the bridge.

The VA sits on top of a big hill on the west side of Portland with a number of other hospitals. It's surrounded by trees and has the most amazing views of the city. There is also an air tram that goes from the bottom of the hill up to OHSU (you can see the lines if you look closely). Adam showed me a great patio look out point where you can sit and eat your lunch while overlooking Mt. St. Helen's and downtown Portland across the river (if you look closely in the pictures you can see Mt. St. Helen's and Mt. Hood in the background). Gian has a great view of the river and Mt. Hood out his window. Here are some pictures from those points.

The facilities in Portland and in Vancouver are just so much nicer than West LA. And the people here are SO nice and friendly. I was initially a little thrown off by it...but I'm loving it more and more. It feels more like me, you know?

So, after touring and checking out the incredible views, I met up with my supervisor Dave. We talked about a few things and then he handed me off to Andrea who is a social worker in addictions in Portland. We chatted for a minute and then I sat in on her continuing care group so I could get a feel for how they are run. After these two days I am feeling much more confident about my job. I was initially excited about the autonomy and creative freedom that I would have being the sole addictions social worker at the Salem clinic. But, I was also a bit worried that I would be thrown in and expected to develop a program, when I don't really feel like an expert in the field yet. It was great to see that there is a structure in place, there are clear expectations, and support and resources for meeting those expectations. I'll still get the autonomy and creative freedom with just enough structure to reign in the chaos. I'm really really excited about it!

In the process of driving to work and to and from the various clinics I've been able to experience the Portland roadways a bit more. It's been a little bit of an adventure! Yesterday I got mapquest directions to the Portland VA and figured I could reverse the directions to get back home. Annette Krainik was right, the place you get off the freeway is not necessarily the place you get back on! After missing my turn and having to back track a bit, I finally made it back to the place where I expected the freeway entrance, only to find that there was not even a hint of one there. Also, the streets in Portland, especially up in the hills which is where I was, are not at all gridlike...they wind around all willy-nilly. So, using my innate navigation device, I wound a round for a minute and was able to find another freeway entrance and crawl my way back home (whoever said Portland didn't have traffic??). The traffic wasn't nearly as bad as LA, but was more than I expected. It was especially bad because Portland is currently experiencing record heat (it was 90 degrees today) and I don't have air conditioning in my car. Needless to say I was disgusting by the time I got home. See, it's not always cold in Portland, only when I'm doing water sports! The rest of my time here it has been really warm with clear skies and relatively low humidity. My perfect weather. I'm going to love it while it lasts!!

1 comment:

Anna said...

man, bureaucracies are just my pet peeve!!