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It's about the people.
When Maureen McWilliams and Victor Trotman think back on their careers at UHN, it is people – patients and colleagues – that have been the driving force in the work they do.
"I like to meet people every day and do some good for somebody every day," says Maureen, a registered nurse in Occupational Health and Safety at Toronto General Hospital (TGH).
"It keeps me going and gives me purpose."
Victor, Senior Director of Labour Relations, adds: "What I appreciate about UHN is that I feel that employees and patients are valued.
"I believe our two most important assets are our patients and our employees."
Maureen and Victor celebrated 45 and 38 years with UHN, respectively, and had an opportunity to recently reflect and toast with friends and colleagues at UHN's annual 25 + Year Service Club Wine & Cheese Event at the Chelsea Hotel.
About 1850 employees and volunteers completed 25 years or more service at UHN at the end of 2016.
A career with UHN – Maureen McWilliams
Born and raised in Ireland, Maureen moved to London, England in 1960 to begin her nursing career at Whipps Cross Hospital in East London. She immigrated to Canada in 1966 and took her nursing exam to begin working.
Her first job was at TGH in the Private Patients Pavilion providing care for patients after their surgical procedures until they were discharged. After getting married, Maureen moved to Hamilton where her husband was studying, and she got a job at St. Joseph's Hospital.
Three years later, she returned to Toronto General Hospital to work in the Recovery Room, now known as the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). She made the decision several years later to apply for a position with Occupational Health, then Employees Health Services, to be able to spend more time with her daughter.
"They interviewed 16 people for the job and I just thought I don't have a hope of getting this," she recalls with a laugh. "But I guess they took a liking to me and I've worked in Occupational Health ever since."
Supporting fellow employees who are sick or injured
Maureen has worked in the department for 30 years across three sites – TGH, Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) during the 2003 SARS outbreak, and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. The department sees everything from sore throats and burns to injured backs and needle stick injuries. They are also involved in immunization programs and the annual flu campaign.
Being able to support her fellow employees when they're sick or injured is what Maureen says continues to motivate her in her work.
"When someone comes in with a sore back or a young intern is experiencing their first needle stick and they're scared, I feel good knowing that I can be there for them, try to ease their minds, and help them feel better," she says.
With so many years dedicated to UHN, Maureen says witnessing the innovation and evolution of technology to care for patients has been astounding.
"The difference in technology and what it allows us to do for patients is quite something," she says. "Procedures that used to require long recovery times are now day surgeries," she says. "It's just amazing to see what's happened in the 50 years I've been a nurse."
In reflecting on her career so far, Maureen says UHN is like her second home.
"UHN is a wonderful institution," she says. "After so many years it's still fun for me to come to work and be useful to somebody."
"I love being a nurse and have always just wanted to care for people. It's a blessing to be able to help people."
A career with UHN – Victor Trotman
Like Maureen, Victor's journey also begins abroad. He immigrated to Canada in his early 20s from Guyana in South America.
Victor holds multiple degrees from various universities, but his interest in Human Resources was sparked after taking an optional course in labour relations while earning a business degree.
"We discussed a case in class about a woman who was wrongfully terminated from her job," Victor recalls. "I was moved by her experience and thought that's an injustice, and that's when I turned my focus to HR."
He moved from the private sector to begin his career at TWH in 1979. He worked in compensation and benefits and other areas in the Human Resources Department.
In his time at Toronto Western, Victor introduced pay equity in 1981 and started accommodation for employees who had been injured on the job – all before these practices were made law in Canada.
Labour relations his favourite part of HR
"I then moved to Toronto General and was actually the first person to be transferred from the Western to the General - three days before the integration of the two hospitals was official," Victor says.
He was responsible for labour relations, which remains his favourite area of human resources and one he's taught various courses in.
Victor says he continues to be inspired by the constant change and evolution of UHN.
"The changes keep me going. I believe in contributing and I value hard work so having to adapt and looking ahead of things motivates me," he says.
"I think I've been able to continue in the organization for so long because I've learned to embrace and welcome change. I think immigrating and having to adapt to living in a new place has actually helped me with that outlook."
After contributing 38 years to the organization he says his advice to new employees is to take advantage of all the opportunities to learn from leaders, patients, and fellow colleagues.
"UHN is really a learning environment and to new employees I always encourage them to be open to new ideas and ways of thinking," he says.
"I believe in helping to influence people to be much more than they had planned and I believe that's possible here."