Company: Atlantic Offshore Medical Services
“I have been in the position of really having to rely on my skills and education to make a difference in someone’s health, both in a crisis and in the day to day journey of living. The acceptance and camaraderie you have with the crew makes it really worthwhile. Everyone out here brings some area of expertise and the sum is a fully functioning community 315 km out to sea.”
Frank attended Memorial University and St. Clare’s School of Nursing to become a Registered Nurse. He says high school math and science courses, as well as those focusing on people and human behaviour (social studies, religion, etc.) were most applicable to his post-secondary studies. He feels his participation in various forms of exercise and team sports helped prepare him mentally and physically to function well in an isolated environment, while his volunteer work with minor hockey, Boy Scouts and other community groups helped him develop additional skills. Frank says his predisposition as a “people person” has been critical for success in his career.
Frank’s job involves both rotation and shift work. He works 12 hours a day, 21 days on and 21 days off. As the only medical person onboard the Hibernia platform, he is on call 24 hours a day. After his regular 12-hour shift, he is only called out for emergency situations. Frank commutes 315 km to the platform via helicopter (a 75 minute flight), after a 15-minute drive to the Heliport. In bad weather, he makes the trip offshore by supply boat (approximately 14 hours). Frank’s job involves some travel (to places like Calgary and Halifax), usually for training courses or conferences.
Frank’s work day consists of opening his fully functional Offshore Hospital and checking his medical equipment and pharmacy to ensure that all routine and emergency supplies are ready. He spends much of his time in the clinic assessing and treating medical conditions. He also offers health advice and monitoring such as blood pressure and cholesterol checks, lung function tests, etc. Frank says serious injuries are uncommon due to outstanding safety practices offshore, but he must always be prepared. The offshore nurse also offers management advice and monitoring on public health issues in areas such as infectious disease, air and water quality and work site health exposures. He is also responsible for leading the Medical Emergency Team in the event of drills and actual emergencies, and trains the Emergency Response teams regularly. In addition, he must attend safety meetings, address health concerns as they arise, give presentations on health and safety topics to the crew, and lead inspections of accommodations from a health perspective. To work offshore Frank had to pass a medical screening and complete a physically challenging survival training course.
Frank says the offshore weather conditions can be quite severe, but inside, the accommodations module of the platform is comfortable and roomy, with comforts such as satellite T.V, phones, internet access, good food, a gym, a games room and TV area. He says, “Everyone gets along well and it is a bit of fun. You meet great people and make true friends.”
Frank says the industry strives to control all hazards presented by the weather and offshore working conditions. Every job is analyzed and no job is started until controls are put in place to make it safe. He says if there is an accident or incident it is investigated to ensure it won’t happen again.
Frank began his career as a critical care nurse working in Intensive Care units in the U.S. and Canada. He became interested in the offshore after working as part of an “air ambulance” team transporting injured or ill persons to hospital from oil platforms, rigs and ships offshore. Since then he has worked on rigs, the Terra Nova platform and now Hibernia. Frank’s future career could include work as an Occupational/Corporate Health Advisor, an environmental or safety role, or a position in training/education.
Compensation and Benefits
The salary range for Frank’s occupation is $70,000-100,000 per year and his employer provides full health benefits and a pension plan. He says most companies also pay an “offshore uplift” (a percentage of an individual’s wage) to compensate for time spent away from family and friends. Bonuses are available and vary depending on the company. Frank feels that his salary in the oil and gas industry is approximately 75-100% higher than he would earn for similar work onshore. He has received extensive employer training for his position and notes “there is always something new to learn.”