Writing Challenge Day 9: Your feelings on ageism

Ageism, for those who don’t know, is discriminating against someone because of their age.

Despite the fact I married a man more than a decade my senior, I do hold onto a bit of ageism, simply because my professional experience has not been positive with the 60+ crowd; it’s not their age, per say, but their performance.

My trade is in a fast paced, technology driven and detail orientated career in the medical field. Intricate. Fast. Accurate. Pushing high volume workloads, using highly specialized machinery, and managing expectations of doctors/nurses is a skill you need right up there with using a computer mouse. Through the different gigs I’ve had over the years, I’ve found that most of the older population can’t keep up.

Many times they bring in people who are retired from a smaller facility where “Go! Go! Go!” is not in their vocabulary. Other times they hire people who haven’t worked in the field since before I was born (before computers were common place and everything was paper). They can’t survive. They become overwhelmed by the simplest of tasks and the veteran younger ones have to come in and save the day.

At one job I went bonkers (granted, I was so burned out I was crispy), when they hired someone who couldn’t identify the most basic concepts of the department – it was the equivalent of teaching my mom to do my job. THEY HIRED THEM BECAUSE THEY WERE A NICE PERSON. Which they were – they were wonderful – but this relic could not perform the job to the lowest standards needed or without help. It wasn’t entirely their fault: they didn’t have the experience or the knowledge. And yet, management thought they were a great addition to the team. Never mind that I had to run my department as well as theirs because they couldn’t keep up with the demand.

Granted, there are exceptions to every rule. I worked with several older colleagues who could run circles around me.

I don’t believe in not hiring the 60+ crowd – by all means, give them a chance! But in that 90 day evaluation period, if they not performing to the set standards, then they need to be let go. I would feel the same for a 20 something straight out of college.

Bottom line: it’s ain’t the age, it’s the miles. If you can do the job well, you’re a great addition to the team. If the struggling requires you to have a six month internship to run the department, perhaps this not the job for you.

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