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Photos of Julia McCord, Pardeep (Harry) Ahir, Blake Ellis
Former HHS screeners Julia McCord, Pardeep (Harry) Ahir, Blake Ellis have transitioned into new careers in health care.
July 20, 2022

Screeners inspired to start a career in health care

Through the pandemic, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) screeners created a welcoming environment and played an integral role in keeping our hospitals running smoothly and lessening the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“It’s an extremely rewarding line of work, and you can make a real difference.”

As the first point of contact, these frontline workers set the tone for patients, visitors and essential caregivers. However, they also gained perspective on what it looks like to work in health care. Inspired by their work as screeners, some have found their new calling in health care, transitioning into new careers in the field. These are some of their stories.

Julia McCord learned invaluable interpersonal skills as a screener.

Julia McCord, hand hygiene coordinator/data support analyst 

1. How did working as a screener inspire you to shift into health care?

Working as a screener at McMaster Children’s Hospital solidified that I was on the right path after finishing my academic studies in health care. I obtained a Bachelor’s of Public Health at Brock University and a Master’s of Arts in Health and Aging at McMaster University. Currently, I work in Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC).

2. Based on what you learned as a screener, what are you hoping to contribute to your new role?

The interpersonal skills I gained when communicating with patients and visitors during screening have been invaluable. I continue to rely on these skills while interacting with staff and physicians. As the hand hygiene coordinator/data support analyst, I run the IPAC hand hygiene program at HHS.

3. What advice do you have for others interested in getting into health care?

I learned to be patient and confident in my abilities when working in health care. Each day is a new learning experience, and there is lots of support along the way. Take your time and do your research. There are many opportunities in health care, both clinical and non-clinical. I would also suggest getting a taste of the health-care environment by volunteering at the hospital.

Photo of Pardeep (Harry) Ahir

Harry Ahir is now working in security at HHS.

Pardeep (Harry) Ahir, security

1. How did working as a screener inspire you to shift into health care?

Although I have worked in different security areas within health care, working as a screener has provided me with more skills and experience to apply to HHS security services. For example, as a screener, I’ve communicated more in-depth with patients and visitors, acknowledging their concerns or questions and helping them find solutions that make them feel safe.

2. Based on what you learned as a screener, what are you hoping to contribute to your new role?

As a screener, I learned a lot about HHS policies and rules. This knowledge complemented my transition into security as the objective is to enforce security measures for people visiting HHS sites, keeping everyone safe.

3. What advice do you have for others interested in getting into health care?

Remain calm and patient at all times. Whether you are helping a patient or a visitor, the main goal in health care is to help people, especially when they feel vulnerable.

Photo of Blake Ellis

Blake Ellis has developed relationships at St. Peter’s Hospital.

Blake Ellis, business clerk

1. How did working as a screener inspire you to shift into health care?

Throughout my time at St. Peter’s Hospital, I’ve developed relationships with families and patients across the site. Knowing that I was making a positive impact during the pandemic by helping families and visitors maintain safety, I discovered that I have the skills and passion for working in health care. Staying at St. Peter’s will allow me to continue my relationships with families and staff.

2. Based on what you learned as a screener, what are you hoping to contribute in your new role?

I hope to remain a friendly face to everyone across the site. Bringing my compassion and calm nature from the front doors to a unit will allow me to continue to make a positive impact. I look forward to further supporting our patients and families.

3. What advice do you have for others interested in getting into health care?

Don’t be afraid to take the leap into health care and never look back. It’s an extremely rewarding line of work, and you can make a real difference. I would also advise getting into a role that best aligns with your skill set.