Integrating the training of new recruits with Member Care

“I can’t bear to watch, I need to leave!” This was a frequent statement from anxious moms who had brought their infants into the medical clinic where I worked as a nurse before serving overseas. Their infants were about to receive routine immunizations against childhood diseases. Though the infants received several injections throughout their early months, there were significant strides made when several of the immunizations were combined into one injection. These combined or “integrated” injections reduced trauma to the infant and the mom while accomplishing the intended purpose.

Immunizations prevent serious diseases rather than trying to cure them. Could we also not do more to prevent tragic fallout of valuable personnel by investing more in prevention? By integrating member care concepts into field training curriculum of new folks we can stretch the prevention dynamic.

While functioning in the role of Member Care Facilitator for our field, I was also asked by my Field Leader to take on the role of Field Training Facilitator. This role involved, among other things, overseeing the training curriculum of our new recruits during their first two years.

It had long been a passion of mine to see the two entities, field training and member care, function in a more integrated manner. Just imagine how much more effective member care could be if we prepare and train folks ahead of time rather than waiting until the crisis happens. Too often we find ourselves picking up the pieces of over stress, burn out, unresolved conflict and other issues. Training in the emotional health arena to raise awareness of one’s inner (spiritual and emotional) world can contribute to more positive and healthier outcomes. Just as immunizations prevent serious disease in childhood, more up front training in the area of personal and emotional awareness can promote resilience and prevent serious loss and ill-health of foreign workers. Too often field training is limited to knowledge of culture and language. While these are crucial, self-care topics can also be incorporated.

Debriefing of routine activities is one way to build positive emotional health and raise self-awareness. With the goal of integrating training and member care, I planned an activity, such as a mosque visit after which we completed a group debrief. As we routinely debrief after each outing or activity, new folks are gaining awareness of their own and others’ reactions, including thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behavior.

I also incorporated a unit in the mentoring handbook that focuses on raising personal awareness. This unit includes identity, basic conflict resolution, processing disappointments and losses, recognizing individual needs, and appropriate ways of getting these needs met. The conflict resolution is a very basic form of noting hurts and offenses and taking appropriate action. A feelings or “soul words” chart included in this unit is a useful tool in building these skills.

We can move forward by integrating member care concepts into field training curriculum!

Written by a Member Care Provider living and working in the Middle East.