One of my favourite images in our award-winning video The Renewal is the young woman whose “hand message” states “it’s more than a pay cheque.” That statement says a lot. It conveys the dedication shared by many Saskatoon Health Region care and service providers who understand the important role they play in achieving our vision of healthiest people, healthiest communities, exceptional service.

This month we celebrate the long service of 1075 staff who have served between 10 and 55 years with the Region in a wide variety of roles: dietary, housekeeping and maintenance staff, nurses, physicians, social workers, lab technologists, managers and many other roles.

Many people change careers several times over the course of their lives. But an amazing number of people who begin their careers in health care remain in that field, even though their roles may change over the years. There are many reasons for that. Some people strongly identify with their profession. For some people, like me, there is a family tradition of working in health care. Certainly, many people appreciate the relatively good salaries and benefits associated with working in our health system.

But that is not why most people choose to work in health care, even though the work is often physically and emotionally demanding. I believe the real reason is that health care providers view their work as more than a job. It is far more than a pay cheque. It is a calling, and a noble calling.

When you work in health care, whether you are responsible for repairing equipment, preparing medications, welcoming a new baby into this world, helping patients regain mobility after surgery, comforting a dying patient, volunteering at our information desks, or managing a busy care unit, you know that your work has value. You are making a significant contribution to your community, making it better for your family, friends, neighbours and many other people who depend on health care. It is notable that health care staff often volunteer their services after they retire.

Last week, at one of our long service award ceremonies, I spoke to many people who commented that they still love their jobs, even after 25 or 35 years. They described how proud they are of what they do. Their comments demonstrate the heart and soul they bring to their work, qualities that are reflected in the care and compassion that is so appreciated by the patients, clients, residents and families they serve.

Let’s show our appreciation to our colleagues who have put their heart and soul into their work for so many years. I encourage everyone, after you read this message, take the time to say thank you to at least one of your colleagues who has demonstrated, through his or her long service to the Region, that it is far more than a job, it is truly a labour of love.