Play Your Cards Right – Ask For Less And Get More
“Self, you work your ass off every shift, you don’t need the money so tell him you want to go to part-time, who cares what he says!”
Working the ten-hour urgent care shifts can be a bit exhausting. It’s not that they are challenging, I only wish they were. It’s that the work is mundane and repetitive, therefore draining the life-force out of me.
With 7-on and 7-off I apparently have nothing to complain about, so I’m told by whomever I try to explain my hour to. Interestingly, I don’t know many people who work a 70-hour week regardless of whether the next 7 are working or non-working days.
We tend to talk ourselves out of a lot of things in life.
No, we don’t need more free time, we need to work more. That’s enough sleep, time to get up and act busy. We need more money, we should work harder and naturally have less job satisfaction. We don’t have to enjoy the work we do, it’s a job, it’s not supposed to be satisfying.
The only difference now was that I no longer needed the money.
I felt a little lost because the feelings came on like a light switch, I no longer cared to go into work. I questioned being a doctor, I questioned 10-hour workdays and I questioned seeing a bunch of winy, negative, helpless and dependent patients one after another.
Okay, fuck it, I’ll just quit and watch Netflix for a few months to cleanse my soul. No, if I don’t work I’ll lose my skills. But fuck medicine, it’s such a fast-paced, high intensity field, where is the joy in it? Maybe I’ll go down to part-time or find a job as a dishwasher, I heart manual labor.
I then picked up my blue composition notebook, wrote down exactly what I wanted which was pretty much working only a couple of urgent care shifts here and there and having a ton of off-days.
In another section I wrote what I was willing to do as a compromise, take on a little more admin time, take more backup shifts, do more phone shifts or take on other leadership roles which were less clinical.
I set up a time to meet with my chief, over beers of course, to tell him exactly what I wanted. We sat down, ordered some food, downed 2 beers each, chatted about all sorts of crap and I still couldn’t muster up the courage to just say what I wanted.
It’s like that one time when I was hitting on the sales girl at the scarf kiosk. I had a strong start, right amount of eye contact, then I got too focused on the goal of asking her out and I was probably the creepiest fucking guy she had the misfortune of talking to that day. My ass STILL asked her out even though I knew I was drowning, and of course she suddenly had a boyfriend, which is better than saying “Oh sorry, you seem really nice but I have TERMINAL CANCER… yea bummer otherwise… you know … me and you… you and me (creep)!”.
Meanwhile back at the pub…
I once again used my cunning charm and skills of precision timing to utter a drunken, slurred, and muted version of “Hey, Tim, what would you say if I wanted to go down to part-time?” And much like the sales girl I was shut down with a reply which that motherfucker must have prepared – who the fuck thinks that fast?? “Umm, I’d fucking kill you! No, no fucking way, you’re not going down to part-time.”
Dr. Mo-0, Tim-1. Fuck you.
What Tim didn’t know is that I am a world expert, a master, the foremost thought-leader on the subject of rejection. Tim being a big, tall and built Norwegian fella was the polar opposite of the kind of person that usually rejects me, but after holding a candle light vigil for my ego I sprung to my feet and we started a drunken haggle over what I was willing to do in return.
I said that I would take on more admin work, go to some of the meetings which he didn’t particularly cared for and that I would take over another recent telemedicine project that needed a physician lead. In return I wanted less clinic time and more admin time.
Don’t mock double-IPA courage.
From a leadership perspective, providers who downgrade to part-time are a bit of a problem for a department. They are plugged into the schedule but they aren’t doing 40 hours a week so more providers would have to be hired in order to fill the schedule holes. For the organization it costs money to hire more providers. The same job that needed 1 physician is now divided between 2, both who get full benefits.
We finished the food and before leaving he said that I could email him my proposal of what I was willing to do and that he’ll think it over. I thought about it that night and emailed him and to my surprise he was okay with it.
Just yesterday we met up for …. more alcohol … (as long as I’m not in rehab I don’t have a problem right?) and food. He mentioned that he had already spoken to people above him and that he thinks he could get me approved for less clinic time, more admin time, more pay and a higher position in the organization.
Wait, didn’t I go to him to try to make less money?
How the shit did I end up with less work and more money?
Nothing is free in life, less clinic time means more admin time, more desk work, but still, I don’t see this as a loss.
I am not the most intelligent provider, but I’m a hard fucking worker. I don’t kill myself but I am consistent and I get the work done. I don’t complain and if I do I have 5 suggestions sitting in your inbasket telling you how to fix the problem.
I did all the same shit in my previous job, at the same large medical group but in a different state. I wasn’t able to secure a leadership role there because I wasn’t forceful and didn’t have the right understanding of bureaucracy. I assumed that the leadership was owed to me for my hard work while my superiors were waiting for me to take charge without a specific paid role.
Now I do my work above and beyond my role. So that if the next position becomes available and I’m interested I can be a good candidate.
The biggest lesson I learned is do the leadership work first, then asked to be paid for it.