Meet Aly B – A Working Mom With a Career in Healthcare!
My husband Rick and I have 3 very busy boys – one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. All three play competitive sports, demanding some serious scheduling.
One of the most challenging aspects of being a Working Mom is balancing my time between work, kids, chores, pets, husband, friends, and of course myself. There isn’t always enough time to connect with extended family, groceries/cooking, exercise, volunteer, and do the recreational stuff we enjoy. I hate having to miss one of my boy’s games so I spend a lot of time planning and piecing our family’s calendar together.
I love my job and feel extremely grateful to be able to work for an organization and in a profession where I can do work I love but also be present for my family. When everything is balanced, I know I’m a better mom and nurse. Being able to schedule my time at work 2-3 months out is a real plus. Not sure I could do a traditional M-F, 8-5 job.
If all employers could find a way to have their working moms self schedule their work, I think it would make a huge difference in their performance.
I also think maternity leave is an important benefit. A slow/staggered transition back to work would be beneficial for both mom & baby and would benefit the employer as well. Lactation support would be great as well….but I know isn’t always possible.
In general employers in the healthcare field have been dealing with large numbers of employees who are parents of dependent age children for quite some time. One of Aly’s supervisors, Corey B. says that 62% of the staff she manages are parents of dependent children – “working Moms and Dads”.
Maintaining the flexibility needed to accommodate working parents is not easy in many healthcare environments where patient safety has to come first. With shortages of qualified nursing staff already a significant issue, a lot of the challenge of making schedules work falls to the individual manager or charge nurse. Most facilities aren’t in a position to offer flexibility to all employees, so staff schedulers often turn to a large number of interim, parttime, or other flexible employees to pick up the pieces when core employees need to be absent. .
The need for committed flexible employees has increased dramatically over the last 2-3 years as the demand for healtcare services has increased. 3 years ago, facilities could hardly keep their own core staff busy. Today the need for large numbers of “flexible employee pools” to cover planned and unplanned absences is a staffing must.
Staffing companies who specialize in flexible healtcare staff have been flourishing in today’s work environment. Companies who provide per diem (by the day) traveling or contract nursing can’t keep up with demand. They almost never have all the flexible staff their clients ask them to provide which means that the employees who work for these staffing organizations have more choices about when and where they want to work. The healthcare industry needs large numbers of these flexible, parttime, employees NOW.
Aly’s supervisor mentioned how important it is for the department’s expectations about flexibility be communicated at the point of hire, even looking for alternative solutions to achieve flexibility at the point of hire. If the goal is to keep a core group of employees “happy” they may ask these employees to work in other units in addition to the unit who hired them. Aly, for example, works at two facilities to get the full number of hours she wants to work each week.
Another requirement that needs to be communicated up front are the clear deadlines for schedule requests. Once schedules print, most employers don’t have ways to accommodate “days off” and typically ask their employees to “swap” shifts with other employees if additional time off is needed.
One of the biggest challenges for many Working Parents – in and out of healthcare – is the high costs of childcare. In healthcare, unless you are making “nurse level” wages, these costs can be prohibitive, requiring working parents to turn to family or friends for help with child care requirements. These are the financial issues that all employees face and limit the pool of candidates all employers have to choose from.
And when a child gets sick, the stress on both the employer and the employee to find a solution for an unexpected absence can be significant. While some organizations require their employees to have a “plan for an unexpected absence”, not all these plans are easily executed at point of need.
This is a long way of saying that in many healthcare environments providing employees with a Working Mom friendly environment often comes down to the individual manager and their willingness to work with individual employees on individual needs. It also requires having enough “optional employees” available to the unit scheduler to make sure you have the resources available when you need them. Solutions for life challenges are never easy but always with a significant pay off for both employee and employer.
We would like to thank Aly for sharing her story about her job in healtchare and how it works for her! We couldn’t be happier to make a donation of $50.00 to the Boys and Girls Club in her name. We really appreciate the insight Corey gave as well! If you would like to share a story about a working mom, please Click Here, we’d love to hear from you!