Dear Nurse Beth,
I am a nurse with 4 years experience. I am also an observant Jew hence I observe the Sabbath. At my current job, I work every Sunday instead of alternating weekends (Saturday and Sunday). I went on a job interview
today and the manager straight out asked me about working the weekend which would be Friday and Saturday for the night shift.
So obviously I had to answer and tell her I would not be able to work any Friday nights and many Saturday nights wouldn't work as well but I am willing to work Sundays every week and legal holidays and ie i am flexible and accommodating. There was a awkward feel in the room. The interview went on but I can't help but feel I will lose the job because of this. Could have I done something different? Is the manager correct for asking me this? I feel like she's opened a religious can of worms and as this is a really big corporation, how could they not be accommodating? Please tell me your input, Nurse Beth. I so badly want this job but the possible worst thing could be is me turned down because of something which is personal while I'm an excellent candidate otherwise.
Dear Observant Jew Who Cannot Work Friday Nights,
Some organizations are more flexible than others, and many, if not most, do try to accommodate personal requests. However, organizations are not required to change requirements of the job to accommodate individual employees.
The problem comes when accommodating an individual request comes at the cost of another individual and affects the ability to provide services.
Let me see if I can help you see this from a manager's point of view. Let's say there are 10 nurses on night shift. To keep the unit open and provide patient care services, 5 nurses are needed every night.
Hence each of the 10 nurses are required to work every other weekend to evenly share the burden of weekend requirements.
Let's say that weekends are defined as Friday and Saturday nights for night shifters. That is customary for hospitals. (Sunday nights are typically not counted as a weekend night, as 3 nights cannot be designated as the weekend for purposes of meeting the weekend requirement).
So you and 4 other coworkers are scheduled to work every other weekend as part of your job. If you cannot work your weekend shifts, the manager is unable to cover
the unit, and cannot provide the required patient care services. You must think through how your shift will be covered.
You are willing to work Sunday nights, but in return you want every Friday night off. That may not be seen as a fair trade-off. To balance the schedule, you would need a co-worker who wants Sunday nights off as badly as you want Friday nights off, and who is willing to work every Friday night. From a co-worker's point of view, it is highly unlikely that one would agree to working both her required
weekend shifts...and all of yours.
And that's the problem.
I myself work for Adventist Health, which also observes the Sabbath. But that doesn't mean the hospital closes on Saturdays, or that employees do not have to work Saturdays. Nurses, Nutritional Services, PBX operators....everyone works their share of weekends.
When interviewing and trying to land a job, it's important to present yourself as a solution to their problems, and not to present a problem. Your best bet is to look for an organization or a unit that operates Monday-Friday.
Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!