Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Letter to My Fake-Boss

My Monday ended with a series of emails between my real boss and my fake-wanna-be boss and myself about my maternity leave. Just as predicted, the shit hit the fan and people are NOT HAPPY.

Just to be very clear, my real boss is fantastic and is completely supportive, although sometimes afraid to stand up to the MDs. The fake-wanna-be-boss is an MD and has no idea how psychology works and micro-manages all of her staff to the point of two of them leaving for competing hospitals within the past two months. She runs the department to which I am the primary [read: only] psychologist consultant.

The background: I sent an email of my maternity leave plan to fake-boss and cc'd real-boss and my administrator (I know, too many people in charge...) last week, but didn't realize that fake-boss was out of town until today. Essentially, the plan is that I will stop accepting new patients beginning in September, which allows me exactly me just about two months to "cure" my entire caseload or otherwise figure who to transfer them to, seeing as that everyone else already has a full case-load and psychology patients generally aren't keen on the idea of transferring care once they've established a relationship with someone (completely understandable). I provided a full page of different referral options for upcoming new patients, based on their insurance and presenting problem and location, etc. This took me some time to compile and I was pretty impressed with the final product. My real boss and my administrator both responded that it was a wonderful plan and very timely.

Fake-boss responded today, not to me directly, but just to my real-boss. This was irritating, because it was as though she wanted the two of them to decide my fate together and then jointly inform me of what my plan would be. Well, he (real-boss) would have none of that and finally included me in on the conversation and asked me to respond to her ridiculous demands/arguments directly.

Here is a summary of her arguments sent directly to my boss:

  • My plan gives an inadequate "lead in time"
  • My maternity leave will negatively affect my productivity and the productivity of my department
  • I should be able to accept new patients until October
  • I need to make sure I am opening up more time for follow-up patient slots if I am not accepting new patients
I've composed a short and professional response, but this is what I really want to say:

Dear fake-boss,

I have sent you a full maternity plan with detailed referral options when I was 15 weeks pregnant, just entering my second trimester. I truly apologize if this is not enough "lead time" for you and in the future I will make sure that you are aware of the exact date of my IVF procedure so that you know at the moment of conception. Never-mind that miscarriage risks are much higher for IVF patients in the first trimester, I'll make sure you're the first to know. 

Regarding my productivity - yes, I am fully aware that having a child and taking off several weeks to recover from this, bond, and nature this new life will result in a decrease in the number of patients that I am seeing. In fact, I can guarantee that there will be several weeks that I will be 100% unproductive in terms of "billable hours". I'm sure I'll manage to stay productive in other aspects of my life. 

In the grand scheme of things, productivity is the least of my concerns. Currently, I am one of the top achieving psychologists in the department and my productivity rankings are higher than 85% of the national average. I'm fairly certain that I could drop dead today and still meet my productivity quota for the year. 

I know that the implication is this productivity argument is your preference for me to be working my usual 50 hours per week up until the delivery date. Under other circumstances, I would be very agreeable to this. These circumstances being that a) the delivery date is actually predictable, b) that I am miraculously able to "cure" each and every one of my patients the week prior to this date, but not before, and c) that this delivery date is not preceded by bi-weekly and then weekly physician appointments that I am required to attend. In reality, I am really hoping that my case-load slowly dwindles up until the leave date, meaning that I will have less patients to cancel when I am inevitably driving to the hospital while on the phone with my secretary. 

Accepting new patients up until October is an interesting compromise, but has the similar flaw with working 50 hours weekly stated above. This assumes that a) I will actually deliver on or after my due date, and b) I am really a miraculous psychologist and can "cure" everyone in less then three appointments. I'm truly honored that you think so highly of me, but even I am not this good. In all seriousness, this is a the primary difference between psychology and traditional medicine: there is no magic pill that cures grief or behavior problems. 

The above arguments are based entirely on my desire to provide the absolute best care to my patients under the current circumstances. Given this, and my recent actions of seeing patients through my lunch hour and after the rest of staff has long since gone home, I am actually offended by the implication that I would not be retaining enough time in my schedule to follow-up with my already established patients. Trust me when I say that if there are not enough follow-up appointment slots, I will make them. 

Now that you have had a chance to share you opinions, I would like to inform you that this whole maternity thing - it's happening whether you like it or not. You can approve or not approve of this plan, but either way I will be gone. So please, take the referral list, inform the rest of your staff, and get your head out of the sand. 

Your already-pregnant-consultant-who-you-don't-actually-have-any-control-over


  1. Personally... I love it and wish you could send it!!

    I hate the "fake-boss" thing... I've had issues with that in the past.

  2. Oooo, wouldn't it be nice if you could actually send that! Fake bosses are the worst, all caught up in power and negativity without actually contributing. Sorry you have to deal with that!

  3. YES! That's a perfect arrow. Send it. (: