Accountability = Bitch?


So, I took this new promotion two months ago. So far, it’s been going ok. My official title is “Patient Care Coordinator” which really amounts to the assistant to the Director of Nursing — which really amounts to doing everything she doesn’t want to do.

Ok. I’m good with that.

My boss and I have different styles.

She has no backbone. I do.
She’s scared everyone will dislike her. I’m not.
She’s held hostage by the fear that everyone will quit. I’m not.
She wants to please everyone, all the time. I don’t.

She describes it as me being very “Black and White” and her being “Shades of Grey”. The “Yin and Yang” of the office, we are.

Today – one of the nurses calls in sick at 8am. She said that her dog had to have emergency surgery for gall stones – – was in tons of pain and she needed to deal with it.

“Alright Jill – I hope your dog feels better soon, however, remember that you are on call tonight – – so you’ll need to have things wrapped up by 4:30,” I said.

“No problem, I’ll call in later this afternoon and get report for call”, she says.

At 4:00pm this afternoon – Jill calls. She says “I need someone to cover my call until about 7pm because we have to go pick up the dog at the Vet and it’s an hour and a half ride down there and back.”

I was very nice about it, I think. I told her that it was extremely short notice to be calling 30 minutes before call starts, and that I probably would not find someone to cover 2 1/2 hours of her call at with this kind of late notice. I reminded her that I gave her the entire day to deal with this – – and knowing that it was a 3 hour round trip to pick up the dog, she really should have called much sooner to give us more notice and ability to find someone to cover call for her. I told her she needed to make arrangements.

She says, “Well, I’ll keep my pager on – I’m sure that any calls I get between 4:30 and 7pm will be ones that I can handle by phone, don’t you think?”

I said, “Well, Jill – you know what your responsibility is on-call. You know how things can go. If you truly think that you are serving our patient’s needs well by being a 2 hour drive away with a sick dog in the car when someone might need you – then that’s a judgment call that I will leave up to you and your professional licensure.”

So, Jill decides to make arrangements and has her husband go down to pick up the dog by herself – but she’s not the least bit happy about it. She calls Tina, my boss, and lets her know that she thinks I’m not compassionate and sympathetic enough.

Tina calls me into her office to discuss it. I told her that it’s about professional accountability and responsibility – she could have given us plenty of notice about the dog thing and I gave her the entire day to deal with it, even reminding her of her on call responsibilities ahead of time.

Tina asks “Lisa – if she were to call you at 4pm to say she was sick, or in a car accident – what would you response have been then?”

I say, “Depends – are we talking loss of life or limb here?”

Tina doesn’t get the sarcasm – – so I clarify . . . .

“I probably would have covered call for her myself if that were the case, Tina.”

Tina says, “Ok – I was just wondering where you draw the line? Where the hardness ends and the softness begins.”

So I say, “Well, if it’s your opinion that I’m being too hard on her – – if you think you would have handled it differently – – why not call her and offer to cover the two hours of call yourself so that she can deal with it?”

Tina says, “No, no – you handled it the right way, I think. We’re just two different people, Lisa, and handle things two different ways. I think that’s good – we balance each other out that way.”

So, does trying to hold people accountable for their responsibilities mean that I’m a heartless bitch? Or should I have been more soft and coddled Jill a bit more, considering her situation? I put myself in her shoes – and I know that I would’ve made arrangements so that I would be available to fulfill my responsibilities that people at work are counting on me to do.

Maybe that’s my problem – – maybe I should put myself in their shoes and expect that everyone will handle things the way I would handle them. Maybe my way isn’t always the right way? (GASP!)

Oy – time for a double espresso!

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5 thoughts on “Accountability = Bitch?”

  1. You were absolutly right in how you handled it. I would have done no different. I am a manager and must do as you did almost daily. And I am the “Prick”!!!

  2. Look at it this way…you are doing here a favor by not endorsing her bad attitude. Next time tell her life is hard buy a helmut!!!!

  3. I think you did the right thing and that’s not being a heartless bitch. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t have the ethics that you have and many will try to get away with whatever they can. I’m glad Tina didn’t blast you.

  4. You were right in how you handled the situation. Oh my gosh I was halfway through your post when I was asking myself “we have to pick up the dog” – why the hell doesn’t her husband do it? Does it really take the both of them? Especially when he is probably off from work. I was a supervisor for 5 years at my company and my biggest pet peeve was attendance issues. Tardiness and lame ass reasons for calling in sick. I’m sure some of my employees thought I was a bitch too. Your boss is a wuss who is too chicken shit to be a boss and rock the boat. We don’t go to work to make friends, we go to make a living and do the best services possible in our jobs. Your reaction and the way you handled it was spot on.

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