I was on the phone this week with a client (facility) of ours discussing their upcoming temporary staffing needs as we approach the summer vacation months. And boy, did they have a lot!
The conversation was going along quite well when suddenly my contact on the other end of the phone started to go on a bit of a rant. I didn’t stop her, for those of you who are members yourselves, Toastmasters teaches you to be a better listener. And this was not the first time I’ve had either a client or therapist vent some frustrations to me over the phone. It makes for a longer conversation, but can also strengthen the relationship if you practice good listening skills and respond with more than a simple “uh, huh”.
This is not an attempt to pick on the client for such. In fact, I’m thrilled that she felt comfortable enough to divulge that information with me. She actually had a very good point. She was having to essentially double back and re-cover staffing that she had previously arranged with her own PRN therapist staff.
Now, this may not be a huge deal in the larger metropolitan areas of St. Louis or Kansas City, but, these locations were in some pretty rural areas of Missouri. So rural, that we are the only staffing company attempting, and sometimes able ;-), to assist companies with their needs. These locations can spread the full-time, part-time, and PRN staff very, very thin, causing lots of headache, stress, and consequently, burnout.
The point of her diatribe was pretty dead-on. The coverage she had previously arranged was no longer available. Why? The PRN staff she had these dates covered with had accepted jobs elsewhere, and basically said they couldn’t help anymore.
The problem with what these therapists did is that they have burned a bridge and their word can no longer be trusted by this facility. And the therapy community is really a small world – seems like nearly everyone knows everyone. So word will get around and these therapists that have reneged on their commitments, and they will inevitably someday suffer the consequences of their decision to not fulfill their commitments.
While that’s a pretty bold statement, it’s true. And I can speak on this, because I’ve experienced both ends of this conundrum. Look at my LinkedIn Profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/mulhollandjason and you’ll see that I’ve had several employers. And when changing jobs, I’ve had to be honest about prior responsibilities that were important that I keep. This is all done in the negotiations with your future or new employer. You definitely don’t want to spring this on your new employer on your first day, expecting them to honor your request. I can pretty much guarantee it won’t happen.
Of course, there’s the other side of the coin…and believe me, I’ve also experienced this from the employer’s perspective, both good and bad.
First, I’ll share the good… we often have therapists that accept home health cases or visits. It’s attractive for several reasons, but chief among them is the flexibility it provides. In this particular case, I received a phone call after the physical therapist’s initial evaluation, and she was uncertain whether she could continue the case. The home was filled with smoke, was filthy, and worst of all, there was a baby in that environment. After discussing the situation with the therapist and the agency many times over the next 24 hours after the evaluation, she decided to see the case through, only because the family was nice, and in her heart, she wanted to help the patient…not to mention that it was the right thing to do.
Here is the polar opposite of how to handle a job change if you are a PRN therapist: We had a PTA helping at a facility, and that facility was counting on them for three days a week on a consistent basis. Consistent work is the Holy Grail for most contract therapists. Let me preface this with what I always tell our therapists: if a situation is not right for you, we’ll make a change. All we ask is for the therapist to communicate the issues and afford us the opportunity to improve the situation in one form or another. This PTA made the decision to notify me the evening before what would be her last day – yes, THE. EVENING. BEFORE – just about 12 hours prior to the start of her last shift. That made for a lovely conversation with the facility on my end. But to compound things, the PTA didn’t mention to anyone she was working with that it was her last day, leaving the facility manager in shock and disappointment. If you don’t agree that her reputation is in ruins (along with ours), and that bridge with the facility burned to the ground, then please don’t contact me about PRN work.
I could go on and on about positive and negative handlings of PRN responsibilities and job changes. I’ve experienced both in my short time with Metropolitan Health Staffing Network. Thankfully, more positive than negative, but the latter are the ones that tend to stick with you.
Bottom line, if you commit to something, you should go through with it – at least that’s how my mom raised me J. Like I’ve said before, feel free to call me old fashioned, but this is the correct way to handle your responsibilities. Employers will respect, and most often, will honor your request to keep your previously established responsibilities.
What are your thoughts? A lot of factors can be involved, but there’s not really a gray area to live in here. This is a subject that you’ll likely agree or disagree with.