The inflection point occurred a couple months ago.

First, just a bit of background. My wife works at two hospitals, Stone County Hospital and Mills County Medical Center. She was hired primarily to work at Mills, but because there were three people doing a job that could (theoretically) be done by two, that meant that she had some hours to make up working at Stone. Also, when I refer to “hours” that’s not “hours worked” but rather “coverage hours” which means hours that the service is taking in patients. So if she is working 16 hours for patients that come in within a 12 hour span, she gets 12 hours. Also, she is expected to take phone consultation call on the evenings of the days that she works, so if she’s working 12 hours, she also has another 12 of phone consultation (or 14 if the shift is 10).

One of the three doctors at Mills County Medical Center resigned, which left Clancy and one colleague having to do the entire job. This is possible, but it also leaves no room for somebody getting sick or going on vacation. The problem for Clancy was that in addition to her duties at Mills, they were still giving her hours at Stone. This was in addition to the above-mentioned phone consultation and one night a week of full call (where she is expected to go in). So Clancy asked the person responsible for scheduling if she really needed to be working those hours at Stone.

In response, she got a really terse, somewhat condescending letter from a higher up outlining what he thought the hours were. She was expected to work 144 hours per four-week period (that’s 36 hours a week, the remaining four being sick/vacation/holiday), and she had 12 shifts of 8 hours at Mills and so needed to work three shifts of 12 hours at Stone to make 144. He went on to explain about how people who want their job have to work a minimum number of hours yadda yadda.

The problem was that his math was wrong. The shifts at Mills were 10 hours instead of 8 and there were 14 of them instead of 12. And on top of that, they were giving her four days at Stone rather than three. The result was 140 hours at Mills, plus another 48 at Stone, for a total of 188 hours that wasn’t including phone consultation or on-call. The latter of which being a particular sticking point because most doctors don’t have to do it because they can’t deliver babies. They did a whole thing of “Do you really want to be the kind of employee who is sitting there counting hours?” but at the end of the day her argument was pretty bulletproof.

So they stopped scheduling her at Stone. However, to “make up for it” they expanded the coverage hours at Mills from 10 to 12. That meant that she was back at 168 hours, plus phone consultation plus obstetrical call with no vacation, sick time, or holidays. Clancy agreed to it because she mostly just wanted to (a) stop working at Stone and (b) stop having 10 day work stretches.

Unfortunately, it simply proved to be too much for her. She got several consecutive weeks of above-average patient loads. On top of all that, her employer worked out something with another service that Clancy and her colleague would start taking some of their patients, too. Clancy has never been the fastest worker, and she just got overwhelmed with it. Last month we racked up $850 a month in hotel expenses because she would work until she was too tired to drive. Attempts on her part to streamline her efficiency were thwarted by the constant level of reaction that she was in. Being away from her daughter and living in hotels ate away at her, and she was still getting yelled at by her superiors for not having her paperwork done in a timely manner.

So this week, she submitted her resignation. Her contract is up for renewal in June and she will stay on until then. We’re not sure what comes after this. We probably won’t be relocating for a new job immediately. She will likely do some temp work to keep us afloat and work on trying to become more efficient at her next job, to work smarter instead of so long and so hard. And beyond that, to take the time to find the right job, instead of doing what we’ve been doing, which is kind of falling into the jobs she’s taken.

It is unlikely we will be staying in the area for more than a year or two. I’m going to miss some of the conveniences of living so close to the city, and I’m really going to miss this house. But fortunately we won’t have to uproot in the immediate future.


Category: Office

About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

6 Responses to Leave & Departure

  1. Mike Schilling says:

    “You’re being paid to work this many hours.”

    “I’m working more than that.”

    “Do you really want to be the kind of employee who is sitting there counting hours?”

    Typical.

  2. Kolohe says:

    Hope everything works out. Best wishes.

  3. Peter says:

    ” most doctors don’t have to do it because they can’t deliver babies”

    Isn’t that the sort of thing you’re supposed to be able to do if you’re a doctor?

    • trumwill says:

      Most learn it, but never get enough training to really do it except in an emergency. So they don’t get privileges and can’t do it.

    • fillyjonk says:

      I figured “can’t” meant “didn’t carry the higher-level malpractice coverage someone who does OB needs in this day and age…”

      I could be wrong, though. But you do regularly hear about “entire counties without a single practicing OB” and it’s often for that reason.

      And yeah, the whole situation sucks. I hope it works out the best for you and Clancy, Will.

      • Michael Cain says:

        The ongoing Trumwill family saga makes it sound like demands for insane hours for OB staff are a fairly common thing.

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