Carla is a new graduate from Bow Valley College. She chose not to enrol for work experience because she felt nervous about being ‘placed’ in a health care facility and felt happier being able to choose where she worked.
Carla was a quiet student and had always felt like the ‘odd one out’ in class. Her classmates were friendly enough but she did not spend time with any of them outside of the classroom. She had always lacked self-confidence but just assumed she would feel better once she passed her exams and started working. She had a passion for the medical industry and want to help people. Her goal was to be the best office assistant ever.
Carla’s first job was in a small clinic in the suburbs of Calgary not far from where she lived. When the job was offered to her, she understood that she would spend most of her time on the front desk helping clients, making appointments and performing administrative tasks. On her first day the other staff were welcoming and friendly but soon left her alone to get on with her daily tasks. Carla noticed that when she was left alone the other staff would gather in the kitchen, drink coffee and chat.
Unfortunately for Carla, her first day was ‘one of those days’. There were scheduling errors that caused frustration in the waiting area and an unusually high number of telephone calls. The work space was such a mess that Carla couldn’t find paperwork she required or client files that had been left out for the morning’s appointments. Carla felt quite confident answering the phone on the first few occasions but the more the phone rang, the more flustered she became and one caller became so demanding Carla didn’t know what else to do but hang up the phone. One client in the waiting area appeared to be intoxicated and began harassing the other clients who all looked to Carla to do something but it was her first day and although she knew she thought she was expected to intervene, she wasn’t sure of practice policy and was too nervous. When she looked around for help, none of the other staff could be found.
Eventually, Daniel who was supposed to be Carla’s mentor, came to the waiting area. He was shocked to see flustered clients, files all over the desk and Carla sitting staring at a ringing phone.
“What an earth is going on here?” he said to Carla who promptly burst into tears and ran to the staff room and slammed the door.
When Daniel found her, Carla was composed and apologised. “I am so sorry Daniel, I know I should have been able to deal with the front desk alone, I’m sorry it won’t happen again. I don’t know what happened and I should have been able to cope, I’m useless, sorry.”
Daniel accepted Carla’s apology and told her that she could no longer be trusted on the front desk, the clients’ were all complaining and it just wasn’t good enough. “You can spend most of your time behind the scenes away from clients, that way you won’t give the clinic a bad reputation.”
Initially Carla felt relieved that she would never have to go through that again but as she walked home she started to feel upset again. She had taken her course because she wanted to work on the front desk and she knew she could be good with people, given the chance. She felt that she had gone and ruined everything. When she got home she poured herself a large glass of wine as she knew that would make her feel better. She didn’t have the energy to cook anything so Carla ordered a pizza and had a large bowl of ice cream while she waited for the pizza to arrive. She began to cry again.
When she returned to work the next day Daniel gave her a list of tasks that he told Carla needed to be completed by the end of the day. The list was long and Carla didn’t really know where to start so she decided to work through them from top to bottom. During the day Carla felt that the other staff were laughing at her and talking about her behind her back. Feeling the need to be liked by her colleagues, Carla agreed to do extra tasks when they asked for her help even though they would tut at her and roll their eyes when she didn’t work quickly enough.
As the weeks went by Carla found it more and more difficult to complete her daily duties and she was always being asked to help out in other areas of the clinic. Daniel would become exasperated with her and say things like “You never get your work done” “what do you do all day?” Carla would work late and come in early but it didn’t seem to help.
Every day on her walk home, Carla would stop at the liquor store and replenish her wine stock, it was always easier to forget about work in the evening with a glass or two of wine. She had begun to grind her teeth and woke with a headache and a sick feeling in her stomach.
Answer the following questions giving full explanations for your answers.
- Identify and explain which of Carla’s needs are not being met.
- How does the interference with these needs effect Carla’s wellbeing? Include a description of any coping techniques you have identified.
- Is time management an issue in this scenario? If so, what changes could be made by Daniel, Carla and the other staff members?
Considering the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Hale, Ricotta, Freed, Smith & Huang, 2018), the needs that were not met include social, safety, self-esteem and self-actualisation needs. The safety needs of Carla are not satisfied as expected. Looking at her first day at work Carla seems to lack job security in the back of her mind. Also, there are social needs that Carla did not meet starting from her college where she lacked a sense of belonging such that she could not go close to her classmates out of class which finally translated to her clinic environment. She has brought isolation to herself calling into question her social needs but also her self-esteem needs. As the clinic got busier, Carla became more flustered until her frustration developed into self-doubt which also could result in low self-esteem.
Carla read the actions of her colleagues and perceived negatively the influence of how she viewed their actions. To cope with the stressors of the job, Carla would use alcohol every evening, and this action could contribute to letting her self-esteem down. Self-actualisation is the totality of development (Helne & Hirvilammi, 2015) and it seems that Carla did not meet it since she lacked the invaluable skill of communication along with interpersonal skills which could have helped her in her situation at the front desk. Through the communication needs one meets the safety, social, self-esteem and finally elevate to self-actualisation needs (Socha & Beck, 2015).
The interferences in the social, self-esteem, safety along with self-actualisation needs significantly affect human’s health (Narvaez, 2018). She had not only instituted a toxic association with her fellow workmates but also to herself. It would put a lot of immediate stress on her health by putting her social together with safety needs at peril. Also, she faced interference in that her financial needs along with job security were at peril. The operations were not going on well at the start of her job and continued being worse as she took on the workloads of her colleagues and worked past her hours to accommodate the additional work which did not help her build qualitative relationships. Moreover, her wellness was at peril because the moment she drank alcohol at night she could woke up with a headache and also feeling sick in her stomach and this could interfere with her health.
A coping mechanism or a healthier outlet could be to stop, take a deep breath and ask for assistance rather than feeling low or shutting down. On the self-esteem need, Carla is the biggest problem in her health emotionally and also physically. The idea of drinking alcohol after a stressful day was not good since she filled her body with toxins and could not process her emotions in a clear mind. Stress management could have been vital in finding productive and healthy outlets (Ansley, Houchins & Varjas, 2016) other than breaking down emotionally at the job and turning to the substance after going home. If the clinic had granted her an inclusive together with a supportive environment, she would have been in a better mindset, and the facility could function efficiently and smoothly. The lack of communication along with the lack of listening skills from her colleagues contributed to the situation downfall.
Time management is an issue because a lot of work is not completed before the day ends. This issue commenced when Carla accepted to do additional tasks belonging to her peers combining them with hers. There is a scope of practice that must be adhered by each health administrative assistant and which is particularly outlined for every position together with a list of tasks and hence time management should not be a problem (Davis, Radix, Cawley, & Hooker, 2015). If other members of staff take advantage of someone's susceptibility like Carla the work will undoubtedly pile up and be expected to be responsible and take care of clients’ needs and not to leave items unattended.
To improve on the time management issue, the other staff members should have discontinued taking advantage of Carla and completing their duties and working within their scopes. Also, Carla could have gone to express her concerns to someone in a position of authority or the management and bring attention to the workplace harassment along with bullying which was going on. On the other hand, Daniel after realising that Carla had too much work he should have enquired the reason behind it and help Carla as a new employee to save time instead of shouting at her.
Ansley, B. M., Houchins, D., & Varjas, K. (2016). Optimizing special educator wellness and job performance through stress management. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 48(4), 176-185.
Davis, A., Radix, S. M., Cawley, J. F., & Hooker, R. S. (2015). Access and innovation in a time of rapid change: physician assistant scope of practice. Annals Health L., 24, 286.
Hale, A. J., Ricotta, D. N., Freed, J., Smith, C. C., & Huang, G. C. (2018). Adapting Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as a Framework for Resident Wellness. Teaching and learning in medicine, 1-10.
Helne, T., & Hirvilammi, T. (2015). Wellbeing and sustainability: a relational approach. Sustainable Development, 23(3), 167-175.
Narvaez, D. (2018). Basic Needs and Fulfilling Human Potential. In Basic Needs, Wellbeing and Morality (pp. 135-161). Palgrave Pivot, Cham
Socha, T. J., & Beck, G. A. (2015). Positive communication and human needs: A review and proposed organizing conceptual framework. Review of Communication, 15(3), 173-199.
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