Newbie Con


My workplace convenes the occasional “knowledge forum”. Some , such as when new government policies or procedures come about, require mandatory attendance. I have even presented such a session. Others do not.

Invariably, the mandatory ones are less interesting than those which aren’t. This morning I attended one of the latter.

Ken Nollet is a specialist transfusion medical doctor who does work in Fukushima Medical University. He came to talk about management of blood supply in emergencies. His prime examples were the 9-11 terrorist attack in New York and – of course – the earthquake and tsunami in Fukushima. The talk was titled 9-11 to 3-11.

It’s one of those talks which reminds me how little I know about my present “industry”. Much of what he referred to by way of products involved, escaped me. Terms like HLA (human leukocyte antigen), autologus transfusion and other by-now-semi-familiar terms were thrown around and seemingly understood by everyone else, made my head spin. I was constantly playing catch up I felt like such a terrible newbie. While thankfully the 4+ months I have been here has educated me a little bit about things blood related, yet for the umpteenth time, I felt both privileged and like a con. What am I doing in a place like the National Blood Authority, when my knowledge of the health sector, let alone the blood sector, can barely fill 3 lines in any resume I can conjure up for this role?

I feel privileged because all the knowledge I’m absorbing on a daily basis, has been fabulous to know. It’s almost always fascinating stuff. I seldom felt like I’ve had a dull day, as a result. Hearing for example, how Japan has one of the highest (or is it the lowest) HLA ratio (because it is such a homogeneous society) compared with the US or European countries turns on several light bulbs in my head at once, By the same token however, I feel like a con. I often feel my contribution is so negligible I probably need to be the paying party for the tuition I receive on a daily basis.

And oh by the way, the honourable speaker suggested allegations of cover up on the issue of how high and/or harmful residual radiation remains in Fukushima, is hogwash. One can of course remain cynical but I believed him…

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