Thursday, July 05, 2007

Life in the Fast Lane

It's been a long while since I posted last. I even had some great stuff to talk about on here since then, but life has been busy lately. First things first, I flew to Miami on business. My company makes hospital software and we were installing it in the 17th largest hospital in the US. So we sent planners down for several years to get it drawn up, then installers for a year or so, then trainers for the last few months. Finally, the job of 250+ of us was to walk around the various hospitals, clinics and other such places and make sure they were able to use it the first 2 weeks it was up. For those who don't know, doctors and nurses are not trained in computers, they are trained in treating people, so our system is more of a distraction and sometimes a hindrance for them.

I got placed at a clinic in north Miami (to the left) in a part of Little Haiti where the main language is Creole. Notice the barbed wire around the place... Yeah, being the only white boy in town had a certain air of... well, security wasn't the word. So I trained these folks for a whole week and tried to help transfer their minds from their old, "easier" system, to the "new-and-improved" system. The first day, I was teaching one gal how to point and click. It took 20-30 minutes to schedule one person. It used to take less than a minute. Frustrations were high, I didn't know the process, life was less than fun at the time. Basically, I'm an engineer (read: programmer monkey), and they had me pretending to be an expert, a trainer, a hand-holder, a receiver of yelling and complaining, a calming force, a help desk, etc., etc., etc. By the end of the week, I had done all that and also played the role of a plumber (the urinal kept flushing until an inch or two of water was on the floor), a printer repair person, a psychologist ("Zee old system ist merely a feegment of your eemagination. Dee new seestem eest better."), and a delivery boy (lunch needed to be served to the lead administrator a couple of days since she was working longer hours than me).

By the end of the week, I had helped them to finally be able to teach each other how to use the system (see right for proof). It was pretty cool. I mean, I'm not a teacher, but I got a good lesson in how to help others learn. The first thing I learned: Don't expect anything. Sure, have objectives you want to teach. You want to set goals. But don't be shocked if most don't learn them. Don't be shocked if nobody cares (you teachers out there are laughing at me). I was fortunate enough to have a very patient (pun intended) clinic, so teaching them useful stuff was difficult, but it seemed to take hold over time.

I learned through all of this some things that I will definitely keep in mind when/if I get to teach in the future (perhaps even in the Kingdom). Again, have little to no expectations of progress. People learn at their own rate. Just plow ahead... with a plan.... sorta. Be flexible. I was all over the place in the clinic learning their jobs as they learned my system. I'll had to learn how people learned and then taught them accordingly. In the Kingdom, we'll have a lot of information and wisdom, but we'll be dealing with people who don't. Always be positive. Adults need constant praise. Putting them down is a no-no, or so I've been told. Especially when humility isn't on their to-do list to learn that week. :)

In other news, I'm still having a baby. Rachel is one month out from the due date, or at least that's what the latest estimates are. We've finished our Bradley Method class (or Lamaze for Hippies), we've toured the birthing ward and Rachel has had her baby shower. Needless to say, reality is truly setting in. If I hear, "Your life will never be the same" one more time I think I'm going to punch a wall (you parents out there are laughing at me). Of course, that will get me out of changing diapers the first month or so, right? Nah, I'm looking forward to it in many respects. It's just hard when you hear existing parents sound like schizophrenics when they tell you about parenting. "Oh it's great. The greatest thing ever. RUN! YOUR LIFE WILL BE MISERABLE FROM LACK OF SLEEP!!!!" Of course, the constant lack of sleep possibly turned them into schizoids, so this blog should take an interesting turn starting next month, assuming I have time to post again.

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