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It's a Living

Government work a “great choice” for Bucks health inspector


Once when I was a student at Temple, a professor told us, “Whatever you do professionally, you can do it for the government.” He made us aware the federal government is the largest employer in the United States. As of September 2023, there were almost 3 million government employees.

If you solicit advice online about working for Uncle Sam, you will repeatedly see positive comments about “pensions, sick pay, stability, and guaranteed pay raises,” and a few negative ones like “boring, or slow-moving bureaucracy.”

I wanted to talk to a government employee and so I chose Donna Wright, environmental protection specialist II (health inspector in layman’s terms). Donna has worked for the the Bucks County Department of Health for the past nine years.

She inspects restaurants, food trucks, temporary food events such as carnivals, pools, schools, camps, manufactured home communities, and massage therapy establishments.

“We also respond,” Donna says, “to housing complaints that correspond to our housing and nuisance regulations.”

Before holding her present job, she worked in various other public service positions.

I asked about the training needed to hold a job like hers. “A science degree is required along with courses and on the job training.”

Donna works for Bucks County exclusively. “I am assigned to four municipalities, which is about 315 facilities. My typical day starts at 8 a.m. in the office completing paperwork and responding to emails and phone calls. I then leave the office and conduct onsite inspections. My normal day ends at 4:30 p.m., but occasionally I conduct after hours inspections on nights and weekends.”

Donna’s favorite part of her job is helping to solve problems for people to get a better outcome for everyone. The most challenging part is having to work within the constraints that some facilities have, such as financial, staffing, equipment, and space limitations.

On those occasions at home when my husband presents me with a plastic container filled with a mysterious substance and asks me to smell it and tell him if it’s still good, I could really use Donna’s knowledge and expertise. Despite having missed the Great Depression by several decades, he still feels an obligation to eat any leftovers unlikely to give him ptomaine poisoning so as “not to waste.”

Donna was born and raised in Upper Bucks County. “I love this county and I am happy to call it home,” she said.

“Also, I’ve been assigned facilities close in proximity to the office and therefore I don’t have to do much driving.”

She has two children, ages 8 and 12, and having a family is one of the reasons why she feels “fortunate” to have the job she has.

In fact, Donna likes pretty much everything about her job. “My work schedule is ideal, and my department offers flexibility and understanding, which allows me to be available for my family.”

I asked her what she would tell someone thinking of taking similar employment. “It’s a great choice for anyone who is open-minded and doesn’t mind enforcing regulations while offering education.”

"It's a Living" is a weekly column showcasing residents who are making a living in an interesting way, or people who’ve reinvented their careers because they could no longer ignore the voice in the back of their heads telling them to start over, take a risk, chase a dream or set out on their own.

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