Words That Help

Tulelake with Peter 030It always pleases me when I’m asked to write or give a reference to help someone land a new job, particularly if it’s someone I know well. I love being able to show people in their best light and to showcase their skills and traits to someone who has a need, or a pain point that my person could solve.

Having supervised many people, both in business and volunteer situations, I understand something about character traits that are valuable—not just necessary, but traits that will actually take the person and the job to a whole new level. I love to find a way to paint a word picture of my person using her skills enhanced by her personality and character.  It’s the kind of challenge that brings me great satisfaction—one of the best writing prompts ever.

Last week I received an email from a former co-worker, a nurse, asking for a reference for a temporary job as a kid’s camp nurse.  She’s had experience as a camp nurse but her developed specialty is with the elderly.  I’ve seen first-hand how much children and the elderly are alike in their care needs.  More than endless questioning and lengthy explanations of detailed information they need the gentle, confident touch of someone who cares, someone who can assess the situation quickly while chatting a bit, and smiling a lot.  Someone who can read with their hands—caressing a forehead or cheek to see if it’s hot, gently putting a hand on arm or wrist to get a pulse without announcing the intent.  It takes a certain kind of intuition to gather information while genuinely putting someone at ease with comfort and care.

I had to laugh a little when I read the job description, especially the line that said, “Must be able to climb ladders to reach a top bunk when necessary”—I’ll admit, ladder climbing had never come up during our years of working with the elderly.  I could only imagine some of the scenarios that would include calling the camp nurse to come out to a cabin in the dead of night, only to have to face the dreaded climb to the top bunk.  But if that ever happened I can guarantee that any young camper would be relieved to see the smiling face of a nurse who was ready and happy to help. 

Odell Lake & Diamond Peak.JPG




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