From scrubs to fatigues
Misericordia Respiratory Therapist serves as military reservist
July 23, 2019
By Katrina Lingrell, Senior Advisor, Digital Communications, Covenant Health
Eric Lau is a Respiratory Therapist at the Misericordia Community Hospital who regularly trades his scrubs for a special uniform. As a Medical Assistant in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve since 2004, Eric attends military training with his unit once a week after work and sometimes on weekends.
Eric is one of 27,000 reservists in Canada who balance their day jobs with their military commitments.
“I wanted to give something back to the amazing country we live in and our people,” Eric says. “I’m proud to put on the uniform and represent our country.”
An integral part of the Canadian Armed Forces, reservists assist the government with natural disasters and other events on Canadian soil and can support international operations.
Although balancing his full-time work at the Misericordia Hospital with his duties as a reservist can be demanding, Eric says he’s learning skills that complement both of his roles.
“That’s the unique relationship—there are benefits to the organization I work for as well as the military,” says Eric, who was recently promoted to sergeant. “A lot of my military training is an asset to the organization.”
As a Medical Assistant with the 15 Field Ambulance unit, Eric trains to treat the sick and injured. Part of the role includes training for various demanding scenarios, and like any Canadian soldier, Medical Assistants have standard military skills such as orienteering and weapons handling.
Reservists participate in ongoing learning and training, and often attend courses to build their knowledge and skills, often requiring time away from their occupations. Eric has taken several leaves from his Misericordia work; his longest was about eight weeks.
Eric is grateful for the support he’s received from his manager and the Misericordia since 2011, and nominated Covenant Health for a Canadian Forces Liaison Council (CFLC) award. Covenant Health received the Best Practice in Employee Support – Public Sector (Alberta) award from the CFLC in 2019.
“My manager has always been able to work around it so I can go to the longer courses,” Eric says. “I nominated Covenant Health because of all the support I’ve had. Being able to get that time as a leave of absence is important; it leaves me some time to spend with my family.”
Supporting reservists helps grow a range of skills, including leadership, says Karen Galenzoski, Chief Human Resources Officer at Covenant Health.
“We don’t just support people in their day jobs; we support people in their call to serve,” Karen says. “We benefit from Eric’s knowledge as much as he benefits from us supporting him.”