A most unforgettable learning experience

Dennis Hang

Dennis Hang was a fourth-year Health Information Science undergrad and somewhat skeptical about taking on a frontline service role at a vaccine clinic practicum. While he needed the experience as part of his degree program, he describes himself as someone who would be more comfortable “being less visible.”

Even so, he agreed to work for five months as an Emergency Care Worker (ECW) for the Canadian Red Cross, retained by BC health authorities to provide non-clinical support for an accelerated province-wide immunization strategy in 2021.

Dennis provided digital support for daily operations at the Victoria Conference Centre’s public vaccination site. In addition to screening and data entry of client information, he reinforced health and safety protocols and cared for individuals after their vaccination.

Dennis also experienced firsthand “turmoil and frustration for clients denied a vaccination.” Difficult conversations occurred at times when someone didn’t meet criteria and was not approved for a vaccine by a lead nurse. He saw how management resolved these matters and enhanced client compliance. “Sometimes, I helped other ECWs who were uncomfortable having these talks.”

For the most part, he says, the registration process was quick and relatively seamless considering about 2,000 people came through the clinic every day.

Dennis would visit colleagues and cover for them during breaks. A manager saw he was a fast learner who managed clients effectively and asked Dennis to help other workers with computer issues. “At the time, I didn’t know the full extent of what he was asking me to do,” Dennis admits, “but I still said yes. This was a pretty exciting opportunity.”

He went on to become one of two team leads, taking on more responsibilities like troubleshooting system glitches and supporting team members and nurses. Noting improvements in his own communications, teamwork and leadership, Dennis says he will never forget this co-op experience.

“My attitude changed. Within days, I couldn’t wait to start my shift. I really liked working with the public. There were times when the simplest task could make a difference in someone’s day. I opened up, became more helpful and learned how these basic social skills can lead to greater opportunities.”

Dennis graduated in November 2021.