My SP Experience During the Pandemic

By: Susan Ganger, SP at The Ohio State University and Crossing Guard

Submitted by: Kerensa Peterson, NBOME

I will try my best to give my input into what it has been like to be a SP during this pandemic. I am at a bit of disadvantage as I had just started as a SP in February and only had one live interaction  before the shutdown occurred. So, I don't have a lot of experience with the pre-pandemic routine.

How has your experience as an SP changed since the pandemic? It has changed for the good and the bad. When I had my first live SP experience, another SP was kind enough to explain things to me and show me around. Since I wasn't sure what to do or what to expect, this help was very comforting to me. Not having that personal interaction has been a bit of a negative for me. However, on the flip side, I have enjoyed observing how other SPs have portrayed the various roles. Again, since I was not very experienced, I have enjoyed watching them and feel that I have a better sense of my role as a SP.

Have you had to look for other work? If so, what are you doing? I have not had to look for other work, thank goodness. I am a retired clinic aide from an elementary school and also work part time as the school crossing guard. I do the SP job for a little bit of fun money, for the social interaction, mental stimulation and feeling that I am helping my community.

What’s the kindest thing someone has done for you as an SP during this time? The kindest thing someone has done for me during this time is when [our administrator] reassured all of the SPs when we first got started on the zoom meetings that everything would be ok and not to worry if the meeting didn't go as planned. We were all learning this new world together and we would figure it out. I can sometimes get frustrated with technology and I didn't want to look stupid so his reassurance was greatly appreciated!

What’s the kindest thing you’ve done for someone else during this time? The kindest thing that I have done for someone (outside of the SP world) was babysitting for my Grandchildren so my son could work from home and his wife could sew masks.

What’s the most difficult thing about returning to SP work or the prospect of going back to SP work for you? The most difficult thing about perhaps going back to in person SP work during the pandemic is the uneasy feeling of always being on guard against the virus. Having to make sure that I remember my mask, to wash my hands, not to touch things, stay 6 feet away from people and just a constant sense of worry or unease.

What’s been the most challenging part of the pandemic for you outside of SP work? The most challenging part of the pandemic for me is two things. As I stated above, the general feeling of uncertainty with the virus. Secondly, on a more selfish note, the decision about whether to travel or not. My husband is just retired and we had several trips planned that we have had to cancel. We did fly to Portland to visit our son and to see how traveling would be. We had been looking forward to this time in our lives and now our dreams have been put on hold. However, I cannot complain as so many other people have real hardships from this virus.

From your perspective as an SP, what advice would you give to SP educators around the world? I would embrace the online training sessions. I see this as the wave of the future in medicine and the SP online encounters would help prepare the students for this. When things get back to normal, a mixture of in person and online encounters would be best.

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