Friday, 13 December 2013

Working for The Man

When New Girl called with my final beta results, she offered to schedule my first OB ultrasound at 12:30. While I appreciated that she remembered my preference, and I felt a deeper appreciation that she was willing to work though her lunch break to accommodate me; I really wanted their last available appointment. Whether the results were good or bad, I just wanted Husband and I to be able to go straight home and be together. I didn't think I'd be able to focus if I had to rush back to the office with news of a viable pregnancy (and potentially twins), but I especially feared that I could have a breakdown in front of my OB patients if we weren't viable. Thus, I had Co-worker block my schedule in the final hour and my medical assistant re-scheduled two patients.

When I learned that we would have to repeat our scan in a week, I was almost tempted to bite the bullet (and maybe exert a little optimism) and just take a lunchtime appointment. Yet, all my previous reasons were still valid (except we've nearly excluded the possibility of twins) and they seemed a little more pertinent after waiting an additional week. I exchanged a few emails with the office manager trying to secure their latest appointment. I was originally scheduled for Monday, and I was almost willing to delay until Wednesday, just to minimise the disruption to my patient schedule. I remembered that my RE once told me that I should also view myself as a patient in need of medical care, and that I shouldn't feel guilty about canceling and rescheduling patients. The later is easier said than done. The latest time that would  work for me and Husband was Monday at 3:30. It meant moving three patients, one was a patient who had previously miscarried and was now scheduled for a new OB visit.

It was now late Thursday afternoon, and I wanted to get my medical assistant moving on this as soon as possible, especially as I had an opening for the new OB on Friday. The office manager was out, so once I again I asked Co-worker to block off the time on my schedule. I figured I could keep my discretion too, as the office manager probably wouldn't have even noticed if I left the office early. Well, Big Brother at the main administrative office took notice that Co-worker was blocking my schedule. The Director of Operations sent an email to our office manager informing her that Co-worker was not supposed to be blocking my schedule (even though she was granted the password that gives her such powers...) and furthermore she insisted, 'your provider (yes, that is how she referred to me) needs to submit a PTO request to take that time off'.

Fuck you. I am a salaried employee. I work many hours over the forty hour work week designated in my contract, but I never receive an dime of overtime pay. I routinely work though my supposedly hour long lunch break. I come in on the weekends and before the work day starts to catch up or get ahead. Does the Bean Counter ever see that? No she doesn't. The administrators only see me in terms of my billable hours. Least I should ever think that I'm entitled to take an hour out of my scheduled patient time to seek care for myself without paying for it with my PTO time.

I jokingly asked Co-worker if I should start submitting PTO requests for when I have to do my twice weekly Non-Stress Tests? (For the record this represents the first time I've allowed myself to imaging the pregnancy progressing that far.) Co-worker (who administers NSTs for our patients) noted that she could set me up during my lunch break. We both laughed a little, but silently acknowledged to ourselves that is probably what will end up happening (presuming I make it to that point).

My original plan (just insert laughter whenever you see those words) was to start my prenatal care with the providers at one of our other sites, and transfer to my office once my pregnancy was announced. I wouldn't want any fellow staff members to learn about my pregnancy from discovering my genetic screening results on the fax machine (although unlikely as they rarely clear the incoming fax tray) or to be privy to any of the information such reports contain. Now I was considering keeping all my prenatal visits with the other office, just so I would be reducing my number of billable hours and thus piss off the bean counters. Then Co-worker reminded my that I have an HMO plan with my insurance and may not be able to see the other group. I checked the benefits on my card. She was right. The health insurance that is provided by my employer will not let me see other providers who are employed by the same affiliate. As that makes sense. Way to go Establishment.

Interestingly, I was not copied in on this email from the Bean Counter and I didn't receive any further correspondence from her. Thus, I treated the information that I learned from Co-worker to be like the proverbial tree that falls in the forest. If I didn't hear it, did it make a sound? Who knows. If Bean Counter does approach me, I will point out that I accommodated two patients by adding them into my administrative time (which is thus increasing my billable hours on two other days). I appreciate that she is just doing her job, and doesn't know the reason for my absence (it probably doesn't help that my cover story for my staff is that I'm going to watch one of Husband's hockey games). However it just gives me a sour feeling about how I'll manage the rest of my prenatal care, let alone working while parenting. It's another reminder that I'm working for The Man.


  1. That all seems like a big pain in the butt. It also seems like you work way more than you are actually supposed to, so they shouldn't be concerned about you taking an hour or two off here or there. Good for you ignoring the request, considering it was never given to you directly in the first place! I cannot wait until your follow up appt. I am hopeful for you!

  2. Er. That sounds unnecessarily annoying. So they track your official hours but don't even take note of all the additional time you put in? Seems rather unfair. Same with not being allowed to go to the other office (but I don't understand the insurance system in this country to begin with). Still, I hope scheduling the NSTs will be your biggest concern in the coming months!

  3. Wow. It always drives me crazy when people are clock watchers for when their employees are out, but not when they're putting in extra time. These things tend to balance out in the end if you just trust your people and let them do their jobs with some flexibility. Sorry you're having to deal with this on top of everything.

  4. Like you, I don't get overtime, yet work well more than 40 hours a week. But, I always felt so guilty for the time I was taking for OB appointments and always made them for first thing in the morning and rushed to work as soon as I could. Now I am worrying about when I go back to work and the time I will need to take away from my desk to pump every day and already feeling guilty about that. Since I work freelance, I always have different bosses. When I was pregnant, my boss was a woman who had children so she was understanding. Who knows what I will get next time. At least no one was telling me I need to request PTO. Sheesh. Talk about nitpicky.

  5. I always thought that things like this would be easier for you given the nature of your job and where you work! Ay ay at it's always something huh?!

  6. Ugg... That is such a tough situation at work. I really understand the situation. One of my closest IRL friends is in family medicine and this past week was just TOLD she's working part of the week at another site (so much for continuity of care). Doesn't it just make you want to document each and every quarter hour that you put in AFTER hours and during "lunch" and then send it to the bean counters as in invoice? And the insurance thing....a little trapping. But it is to great to have peers who can help keep your health business private (if not....HIPPA violation!)