Julie Lowes’ first job in health care was as a unit clerk at a psychiatric hospital where her grandfather used to work.
She was straight out of post-secondary with a business and finance diploma and there weren’t many jobs in the northeast United Kingdom at the time. Luckily, she loved it.
“I was like ‘this is the kind of workplace that I want to work in,’” Lowes recalled.
She was there for a year and a half before she moved on to another job.
“I knew I had it in me to do more and I wanted to do more, I wanted to learn more,” she said.
From there she took an administrative role working with a team of social workers that provided seniors’ services as well as rapid response for children at risk.
But the stress levels were high and Lowes knew she couldn’t do the job for long.
Her next move was into a position with the National Health Service as a financial management assistant.
She quickly moved through the ranks and began studying to be a management accountant-in hopes of bolstering her application to be a Canadian resident.
“I guess it wasn’t uncommon—(my husband]) used to laugh at me—I’d be sitting up in bed with my books in front of me and I’d fallen asleep,” Lowes said.
After waiting years for the application to be processed, Lowes and her husband moved to Kelowna and she started a job with Interior Health.
About a year later in 2008, they moved to Revelstoke where Lowes took on a new position as the site manager at the Queen Victoria Hospital.
“Kelowna is a lovely place, we loved it, but there was just something missing,” Lowes said.
“It was not quite the Canadian dream that we had mapped in our head.”
This is Lowes’ 11th year in her job with the hospital, and she still loves the work.
“People say, ‘Do you like you’re job?’ I love it, I am really driven by it,” she said.
“I really love the variety of the work as I say. What makes it as well is when you have a team that is positive and works with you.”
Though she has no official health care education, she had a lot of experience working with a multi-disciplinary team at the National Health Service.
“To me it is the big team and I want input from all of the team, because that’s how we can get the success, by everybody on the same page, by everybody working together for the same purpose,” she said.
From supporting one of the housekeepers to completing a course in medical device processing to rethinking the floor plan to ensure that staff aren’t walking across the hospital to seek out supplies, it is all about improvements for Lowes.
“That is one of the biggest challenges in health care as well as expanding populations,” she said.
“Expanding needs, from a health care perspective, of our aging population. It’s that whole question of how can we possibly sustain this going forward?”
However, Lowes is hopeful. She pulls ideas from her team at the hospital, the team of physicians in town, the community, as well as the managerial supports available to her through Interior Health.
“It’s impossible for one person to do it all,” she said.