Q: I would like to find another job, but my work schedule makes it difficult to arrange interviews. Using vacation time might seem like the logical solution, but that's not possible here. Due to the nature of our business, management requires vacation requests to be made 30 days in advance.
If I ask for time off on short notice, my boss will expect me to give him a reason. I'm not very good at lying, and I don't feel right about faking a medical appointment. I have missed out on several opportunities because I couldn't figure out how to go to interviews. How do other people deal with this?
A: Because most employers understand this dilemma, they will often try to accommodate. Therefore, your first strategy should be to explain your vacation restrictions and request an interview before or after work. If that isn't feasible, then you will have to give your boss a plausible explanation for missing a few hours.
He is likely to be more receptive if your absence occurs during a slow period, so try to schedule interviews when you are least likely to be needed. As for the reason, you don't need to invent a medical malady which might raise additional questions. Instead, simply treat this as you would any other confidential matter.
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Send your boss an email explaining that you will be coming in late or taking a long lunch due to a personal appointment or family situation. Since employees often have private issues which they prefer not to discuss, most managers won't interrogate people about such requests. But if you are pressed for details, simply give a vague reply, like "Oh, it's just something I have to straighten out."
If this tactic feels slightly shady, remember that everyone deserves a zone of privacy. Since admitting to a job search would clearly be self-defeating, overly intrusive bosses are practically inviting people to lie.
Q: As a primary care physician, I have many patients whose insurance deductibles have increased. To avoid the cost of an office visit, they will often call to request a prescription or a referral for a medical test. They apparently expect me to diagnose their problem over the phone.
Ordering these services without doing a history and exam would be irresponsible, but people don't seem to understand this. While I don't want to be rude to my patients, these calls are taking up a lot of my time. How should I handle them?
A: The solution to this problem actually seems fairly simple. Instead of personally responding to these requests, designate a staff member to take those calls. Provide that person with a standard policy statement which politely explains the situation.
For example: "Although Dr. Smith would certainly like to help, our physicians are not allowed to order medical tests without first seeing the patient to be sure the procedure is appropriate. This is simply good medical practice. So would you like to schedule an office visit?"
If someone becomes upset or argumentative, the staff member can take a message and have you return the call. However, most of your patients will probably understand and comply.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics." Send in questions and get free coaching tips at http://www.yourofficecoach.com, or follow her on Twitter @officecoach.