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A hospital worker wears a blue surgical cap, blue facemask and yellow scrubs while weighing a pharmaceutical powder.
Pharmacy technician Tammi Henderson worked for 10 years in the Juravinski Cancer Centre, creating compounds for chemotherapy, before shifting to the adjoining Juravinski Hospital 10 years ago. Like Henderson, more than 1,200 people work in allied health roles at HHS.
November 30, 2022

At HHS, allied health roles are essential

At Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), the work of doctors and nurses is supported and complemented by allied health professionals spanning more than 17 health professions and 1,200 jobs.

Examples of these wide-ranging roles include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, dietitians, personal support workers, social workers, psychologists, health care aides, pharmacy technicians and medical radiation technologists.

“You can spend your whole career within a specialty serving a certain patient population or you can take a career journey that takes you far from where you started.” — Marita Tonkin, chief of health professional practice.

Headshot of Marita Tonkin outdoors, wearing a grey winter coat and a blue and green scarf.

Marita Tonkin

“Every role is essential to our operations as a hospital,” says Marita Tonkin, chief of health professional practice.

“We treat everyone from the emergency patient to the person who can’t go home without occupational therapy or physiotherapy. If you can’t swallow or eat after a stroke, you can’t progress in your care without a speech language pathologist or a dietitian.”

A social worker or clinical psychologist at HHS might specialize in pediatric or geriatric patients, she adds.

HHS offers huge variety of roles and settings

“Allied health professionals play crucial roles in our ability to meet patient needs and outcomes,” says Tonkin. “It really is a team and we have to function together or we can’t do what we do.”

Tonkin, who began her career as a pharmacist, has worked within HHS for 35 years.

“You can spend your whole career within a specialty serving a certain patient population or you can take a career journey that takes you far from where you started,” she says.

A benefit of working at HHS is that each site in the system has its own specialty.

HHS provides care spanning prenatal to the end-of-life and is a regional centre for cancer, cardiac, stroke, trauma, and pediatrics. It’s also a community hospital, a leading research centre and a teaching facility, which offers tremendous opportunities to broaden your career focus, says Tonkin.

“Whatever kind of setting a health-care professional wants to work in, whether that’s a high-volume critical care setting, a research lab, or an outpatient service where you develop a more long-term relationship with a patient and family, we offer it at Hamilton Health Sciences.”

Choose from many specialties

Headshot of Tammi Henderson outdoors in front of a flower garden. She is wearing a blue scrubs top.

Tammi Henderson

Pharmacy technician Tammi Henderson worked for 10 years at HHS Juravinski Cancer Centre, creating compounds for chemotherapy, before shifting to the adjoining Juravinski Hospital 10 years ago.

“We still do a lot of chemotherapy on the hospital side but we are also a stem cell transplant centre, so we see any patients with complications who need admission.”

A benefit of working at HHS is that each site in the system has its own specialty, says Henderson, who also did a stint in the neonatal intensive care at HHS’ McMaster Children’s Hospital.

Culture of innovation and teamwork at HHS

Another benefit is the culture of innovation at HHS. Henderson’s pharmacy recently launched two new robots that help manage inventory and pick pills.

“We also get to work in a beautiful new space on the fourth floor of the hospital,” she says. “I really enjoy the team aspect of my job. Many health-care professionals have to work together to treat a patient. We are a tight-knit group. This is not a job in which you work alone.”

And Henderson gets to work about 10 minutes from home.

“I love Hamilton. There so many trails to hike and the country is so close. There are fabulous restaurants everywhere, too. It’s a great place to live.”

This article is part of a series originally published in Think Hamilton.

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