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Mother Needs My Help but I Need My Job

Nurse Beth   (278 Views 1 Comments)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Advice Column) Writer Innovator Expert Nurse Verified

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

15 Followers; 96 Articles; 231,406 Profile Views; 1,934 Posts

Dear Nurse Beth,

I recently got a new full time RN position in a clinic. After working 4 months, I needed to take FMLA due to sudden illness of my parent. My dilemma now is I don't think I can work the 5 days a week anymore, due to the possibility of taking care of my mother. However I do still need my job. Can I ask my boss to change my schedule so that its more flexible? I don't know how to go about it. Please help. thanks.

Dear Needs Job,

I'm sorry to hear about your mother's illness. So often crises happen in our lives when it's just not a good time, but you're going to get through this. 

There are ways to talk to your boss and we'll get to that.

Are there siblings who can help share in the caregiving? How about other relatives or close friends? At times you may just need a caring neighbor to pop in and check on your mother. If it looks like your mother is going to need extended help or long term care, have you considered assisted living? Many facilities administer meds, provide meals, laundry, and transportation to the doctor.

It's possible you may qualify or may soon qualify for intermittent FLMA. Intermittent FLMA provides 12 weeks of job-protected time off, which allows you to take time off when it's needed. There may be days when your mother needs you more than others, such as for doctor appointments. She may have days where she's fairly independent and you can work. Qualification requires that you've worked for your employer for 1,250 hours, which you may come close to meeting, depending on your total hours.

Like you mentioned, the solution may be as simple as asking for flexibility from your current employer. Remember you are not unique in that employees have family emergencies all the time. Make an appointment with your boss as this shows the matter is important and you need uninterrupted time. The best way is to be forthcoming. Share your situation. Show good faith by offering something in return. Watch your boss' reaction to see if she's responsive and to see if she is going to propose a solution. At the same time, when the timing is right, be ready to suggest a plan. Offer to work more weekends in return for flexibility during the week. You can offer to work alternate shifts such as 10 hour shifts to cover high traffic times, if the clinic has expanded hours. Whatever the undesirable hours are, offer to work them.

She either will or will not grant your request, and it's not just about whether she'd like to do this for you or not. It depends partially on the leeway your boss has to adjust schedules and still cover the needs of the clinic.

Let's say this doesn't work out. You say this is a new position, which implies you worked before this job. If you left on good terms and they would welcome you back, have you considered returning under a part time arrangement? The longer you've had a relationship with an employer, the higher the chances that they'll work with you. Good bosses like to help good employees.

If you do decide you need to look for another job, maybe one with 12 hr shifts, keep your current job while you are searching. It is easier to land a job when you have a job. You will have to explain your short tenure by saying that your family obligations no longer allow you to work 8 hr shifts.

You are a qualified professional, which means you likely have several options to meet your priorities right now. Your mother is your priority, but so is your livelihood. 

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!

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