I knew tough… or so I thought

The breakthrough at a distribution client
by C. Courtney

I started working at InSite Health, LLC.  with about the same amount of Industrial Sports Medicine experience as the majority of the employees, little to none.  I did however bring with me 12 years of experience as a collegiate athletic trainer, 11 of which were as a head athletic trainer. During the interview I was warned, multiple times, that Boston was a tough place. I knew tough. I am a native New Englander who understands the natural instinct to be difficult.  I grew up with two brothers and all boys in my neighborhood.   I worked at a small, private, NCAA division III, New England College for 11 years.  The school prided itself on taking in students that wouldn’t typically get into college otherwise, i.e. first generation college students.  I spent most my time fighting with parents, student-athletes and coaches who saw a wide receiver on TV over the weekend get hurt, had an MRI and then was cleared to return to play by Thursday and couldn’t understand why their Division III athlete did not get the same treatment.  I knew tough.  I had administrators who weren’t sure of the difference between a nurse and an athletic trainer and didn’t really care to be educated.  I worked with a Director of Health services who once thought it was necessary to ask me if I knew how to provide wound care, I knew tough.  I had newly graduated assistants from “prestigious” programs that took 5 minutes to tape one ankle but felt they could questions my skills because I was female.  I knew tough.  Then I walked into the facility in Boston… I did not know tough!

My first meeting lasted all of 1 minute.  About a third of the room turned their backs to us as we spoke.  The next time I was in I was told to get out of the break room and stay in my office because no one will ever speak to me anyway.  During my first huddle meeting alone, while leading a group stretch, an all-out argument between management and workers about whether or not they should be participating occurred and abruptly ended the stretch.  I thought I knew tough.   There was a physical altercation between two EE’s in the warehouse within the first month I was there.  The safety manager was repeatedly sworn at during huddle.  I thought I knew tough.  After about 2 weeks I called my manager and was ready to waive the white flag.  I could not see myself ever finding a way into this group to have any kind of an effect.  My manager was incredibly encouraging and also urged me to speak with another InSite Health provider.  This co-worker had some of her own difficulties in New York.  She too was an amazing mentor to speak with during this time.  They both asked me to give it time, reminded me that I was brought on for a reason and that the tides would turn eventually.

I returned to facility in Boston for my third week, determined to make a difference.  By chance, I went to Zone A that day.  Once back there I met 3 employees that were on light duty, each of which were waiting for an approval for surgery.  All 3 happened to be high up in seniority.  It was an opportunity I had to take to get in with at least one of these guys, I felt that if I could have a connection with at least one of them I would be “in”.  All my years working in the collegiate setting was virtually useless in terms of finding common ground.  However, at the time I was 5 months pregnant.  Each of those employees were fathers.  Quickly we had something in common and they were fast to dispense parenting tips and share stories from the early days of their parenting experiences.  If you had asked me 2 months earlier that I would connect with a 55 year old guy at a distribution company over being parents, I would have laughed.  But there we were, talking about children.  Each time I went in we talked more and more about their various issues.  They started asking for my opinion, then advice.  They even began to ask me if I had spoken to so and so because they got hurt.

I have now been in Boston a little over a year.  It is far from perfect, but I do think I have come a long way.  I do know that I have made a difference and have had an impact.  I am grateful for my manager and co-worker for their encouragement and support, especially during those early days.  I am happy that I hung in there and kept an open mind, because although I do still have difficult days, I have formed positive relationships with the people there. I do my best every day, and I make a difference in this way.