After Xavier Washington graduated college with a degree in biochemistry, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in the sciences, he just didn’t know what exactly. Then he dipped his toe into healthcare and hasn’t looked back since. Now, he is working as a medical technician at Evergreen Health—a job that not only aligns with his passion for the medical profession but also his values and priorities as a member of the LGBTQ community. In our latest Team Evergreen interview, we chat with Xavier about life at Evergreen and what his experience has taught him about the importance of self-care.
Tell us a little about the medical technician role. What do you do exactly?
Basically, I am a medical assistant with a different name. I am responsible for checking in patients, getting their medical histories, vital signs, getting them linked to whatever services they need, doing the blood-work and all the lab stuff that goes with it and anything else the provider might need from me.
How did you get into this line of work?
After college, I had a million part-time jobs. I bartended; I worked at Canalside. But I also started working in the healthcare field in group homes, and I really loved it. I would see the clinical staff and the nursing staff at work, and that made me want to go more toward those sorts of roles. So, I did. And I knew I wanted to work at Evergreen because I had heard good things and because I identify as a gay man. I knew that I wanted to make an impact in the community and support under-served populations. Evergreen allows me to do that and so much more.
How did your previous positions prepare you for life at Evergreen?
When I worked in the group homes, we had one nurse who would come out once a week, but she had five other sites, so most of the medical responsibilities fell on the house staff. We would get prescriptions, pass meds. That prepared me for everything that I’m doing now.
What do you like most about your job?
I love the interaction with people. I don’t like to sit down for too long, so I can never see myself working a data job in a cube. I knew that I loved to be around a wide variety of folks, and this job really allows me to do that.
What makes you good at your job?
I like to think that I’m a pretty easygoing person, and that helps because I work in sexual health, and we want patients to feel comfortable enough to tell us about their sexual activities—what they engage in, what they don’t, things like that. So, I like to think I make people feel comfortable enough to open up and be honest and know they’re not being judged.
What makes Evergreen a great organization to work for and with?
This is probably my favorite job ever. This is the first company I’ve worked for that actually cares about its employees. The president of Evergreen makes himself very known and is very friendly. You can go up to his office and talk to him. Any other job I worked at, I never met the executives; they just never really cared. The attitude was always, “Oh, just leave your problems at home.” I like that here they really support you if you’re having a bad day. You definitely have coworkers you can lean on, and they allow you to be open and honest here. That’s what I love.
What’s one thing your coworkers have learned about you since you started?
That I am a huge geek on the inside. I love comics, video games and anything to do with superheroes or fantasy.
What have you learned about yourself in your three years here?
Definitely the importance of self-care. In my old job, we had unlimited overtime, so I would just work and work and work until I burned myself out. Here, I have learned to notice the signs of going too hard and what I can do to stop it before it becomes a problem. I’m better at asking for help and noticing when I’m starting to get burned out before it gets to that point. That’s something I’ve had to work on over the past couple of years, because I like to think I’m superman and just do everything on my own without asking for help.
What steps do you take to avoid burnout?
If I’m in the middle of the workday, I’ll sometimes step away for even a five-minute break, and that helps. Also, over the past year or so, I’ve gotten interested in gardening, so I’ve been doing a lot of that. I have a million house plants now. I can barely keep up with them, but that’s something I like to do in my spare time. And I know this sounds weird, but on my days off, I look forward to laundry, cleaning, cooking—all that sort of stuff. Just having that time and not having to rush to get it done after work or before work is really nice.
What do you like to cook?
Well, I don’t like to cook for myself, but I do like to cook for others. I think it was coming from working in the group homes, where we’d have to make dinner for like 15 people. So, even now when I’m at home and I try to prepare a small meal for myself, like spaghetti, I always end up making enough for like 10 people, which is a great excuse to have friends over.
If you could invite any three famous people over for dinner, who would be at the top of your list?
One, Freddy Mercury. I fell in love with him after seeing the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Two, Gianni Versace. He is probably my favorite designer. I love the bold prints, the logos, the colors. And because one of my favorite TV shows is “American Horror Story,” particularly the Coven season, I would love to have a sit down with Cordelia Goode (aka, the Supreme Witch). She was one of the strongest, most loving characters in the show, and I love a good, strong female lead.
Same. Thanks for chatting with us, Xavier!