As a communications consultant, I’ve spent the majority of the past 8 years working in short term contracts and on projects for mostly public sector organizations. It means being able to jump in and pick up the pace quickly, learning along the way. But even though the learning curve is always about the organization and the industry, the principles of communications remains the same, varying only based on audience and stakeholder needs.
I realize, this type of work is not for everyone. It’s fast paced and there are many challenges as you try to jump in, develop and implement communications strategies and solutions, sometimes in the middle of a project. Clients and organization leaders have no time to train because they’re busy, which is why they choose someone with experience.
I was fortunate with this particular contract because it required working with the clinical staff. It was a rare opportunity to work with family physicians, oncologists, surgeons, nurse practitioners and oncology nurses who deliver cancer care on a daily basis.
My role as the communicator was to ensure transparency, making sure information about cancer services was available to patients and the general public. In the public sector, the role of a communicator is essential because taxpayers need to know how their dollars are being spent. So I had to digest clinical information quickly, and turn it into simple language so patients and all community members were aware.
It sounds challenging, doesn’t it? And yet, the best part about my role was working directly with the clinical staff. While I was in awe of what these professionals did every day, they were incredibly respectful of my role as a communicator and, all had the understanding that yes, information must be simple and clear to reach out to patients. Because in this type of work, the patient always comes first.
As my contract started to come to a close, I found myself teary-eyed on more than one occasion. The send-off I received was overwhelming. But most importantly, the knowledge I acquired and the opportunity to work alongside cancer care professionals is, and will be invaluable as I move forward.
So now I’m taking a short break as I look for my next challenge. It might not be for everyone but I must admit, working as a consultant and freelancer is a lot of fun. And since we spend so much time in our lives working, shouldn’t we have a bit of fun?