patients at my sleep clinic want to sleep naked, upgrading business flights and hotel rooms, and more — Ask a Manager

here are the 10 best questions to ask your job interviewer — Ask a Manager

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. I work in a sleep clinic and some patients want to sleep naked

I recently changed careers and now work as a sleep technician for a well-known medical facility. I’m still a student so I only work part-time until I graduate from my program. Technicians are not nurses, unless they have additional, specific training. We are machine operators who happen to work with patients. My job is to attach electrodes to the patient’s body for the purpose of monitoring and recording the body’s electrical signals during sleep. Nudity is not required for me to do my job, which is partially why I chose sleep.

Here’s the issue: some of my patients do not bring/wear pajamas for their sleep studies. You would think it’s common sense to wear pajamas to sleep in, but, apparently, as I am now learning, it’s not. And some patients report, “No one told me to bring PJs.” The biggest issue for me are men (it’s mostly men who do this) who strip down to their tightie-whities or state they sleep naked. In my opinion, this is incredibly inappropriate. Not only is it creepy, unprofessional , and plain weird (seriously, it’s one night away from home), it forces the workers into a situation that could be easily misconstrued. We techs already record all interactions to protect ourselves from erroneous accusations.

As a newbie in a new field, would it be out of line to ask the lab manager if the night crew could have a package of hospital gowns in inventory for patients who don’t have pajamas with them? I don’t want to hurt my chance to move into a full-time position here, but I also can’t hand off every creepy dude to my coworkers. I don’t know if this matters, but the majority of people at my facility are female-presenting. I think besides a few of the doctors the rest of the staff is over 95% women. It’s rare to have a male tech on crew.

Not only would be it reasonable to ask to keep hospital gowns on hand for patients who don’t bring something to wear, you could also suggest that patients be informed ahead of time that they should bring something comfortable to sleep in “or a hospital gown will be provided.” If the answer is no, then so be it, but asking about it shouldn’t look out-of-line.

If you want extra cover (ha) because you’re new, you could talk to some of your coworkers about it, see if anyone shares your discomfort, and raise it as a group (or have the person with the most influence raise it). But it’s entirely reasonable, and sometimes it takes a new person to see that something everyone else has gotten used to is off and/or could be improved.

2. Upgrading business flights and hotel rooms at my own expense

I work for a nonprofit that requires a decent amount of travel. I am very well compensated compared to others in similar positions in my field, though I could make double or triple doing similar work in the private sector (which I used to work in).

The thing is, I’m independently wealthy. When I travel, I book within my employer’s guidelines for airfare and hotels, but then upgrade myself to first class or a nicer room. I use my personal credit card and then submit for reimbursement, but only for the originally booked expenses within guidelines. I’m probably spending a few thousand dollars a year making my work travel more comfortable. It’s worth it to me and doesn’t impact anyone I work with. If other people from my organization or a partner organization are also on the trip, I don’t do those things.

Is there anything wrong with this? Should I stop? I did tell the admin assistant who processes my expenses that I will sometimes upgrade myself with miles, just so they are not surprised if my ticket receipt shows first class. I have also decided not to get a corporate card (even though it means I may have a few thousand dollars of unreimbursed expenses for two to three months) because I want the points and don’t want to deal with finance.

Nope, you’re fine. It’s not uncommon to upgrade yourself at your expense or using your own personal miles. With nonprofits, you do need to think about what the optics could look like to donors so if you were, like, arriving at a donor meeting in a golden palanquin, that would be an issue. But upgrading your flight and room? You’re fine. (Just make sure to keep documentation of what you’re covering versus what the org is covering in case anyone ever questions it.)

3. How to ask for grace during a personal crisis

You published a letter a short time ago about someone who broke their leg and wasn’t getting sympathy/understanding from coworkers. I really liked the comments suggesting that we should do a better job of self-publishing our challenges so that others have a better opportunity to support us.

Unfortunately, I find myself in need of some support/understanding and I’m struggling with how to share it. I work with a huge number of internal customers who have urgent/time-sensitive requests. It’s already a big source of stress in my life that I can never afford to have an “off” day. It’s a very intense environment where people are often curt with each other, and I thrive in that usually, but some days I just have a lower tolerance.

My best friend died yesterday. I had urgent work so I couldn’t really call out today without burdening others, and didn’t want to sit at home staring at a wall anyway. But I’m also clearly not myself and am not keeping up with some important work.

I also found out that a coworker’s teenaged child tried to commit suicide two weeks ago, and she didn’t let anyone know and didn’t ask for time off. I’m obviously unspeakably horrified for her and rehashing every conversation, panicked that I was less than patient with her at any point, but trying to respect her request that we keep business as usual.

In both cases, I’m wondering how we can explain that we need some grace, without randomly blurting out “something awful just happened to me” to the 50+ people we interact with on a daily basis?

One option: “I’m dealing with a personal crisis so I might not be at 100% right now.” Another: “I’m dealing with a family crisis — just letting you know in case you notice I seem off.” Or if you’re willing to share more: “Someone close to me died this week, so I’m only taking care of the must-do’s right now.”

But also … “a very intense environment where people are often curt with each other” is pretty much guaranteed to be hard on someone most days. At any given point, someone in your office is probably going through something hard that’s being made worse by colleagues speaking to them curtly. It can be challenging to hold that awareness in the front of your mind all the time, especially in a really hard-driving environment, but ideally we’d all strive to.

4. My manager wants “get shit done” meetings

Is it appropriate for a line manager to put GSD meetings on your calendar? This line manager told me they were “get shit done” meetings.

Sure. It’s a term you see in some corners of business space. It’s a little tech-bro-ish, but it’s a term some people use. If it grates on you because of the profanity, you can ask to call it something else.

5. Did I accidentally misrepresent a job on my resume?

I have been unsuccessfully job searching for a few months after a cross-country move. I finally got an offer last week and am super excited about it! Here’s my problem, though. I was filling out their information for the background check, and realized they are confirming employment for all of the jobs listed on my resume. No problem! Except the oldest relevant work experience on my resume was not actually a paid job — it was an assistantship where I earned college credit. Obviously, this should have been noted on my resume, but I put it on there as “relevant experience” when I was applying to my first job in my field, and just somehow never thought to update it over the years. So when the third party background check company checks my employment, I won’t show up as a former employee, because technically I wasn’t. What should I do here? Should I preemptively reach out to HR to alert them and explain? Should I wait to see if it even gets flagged? Help!

This is not a big deal. An unpaid assistantship is still legitimate work experience, and you didn’t do anything wrong by listing it without noting that it was unpaid. There’s no expectation that you’ll flag unpaid internships and similar as being unpaid.

If you’re worried about it, you can include a note in the background check paperwork (or send it separately to them now) to the effect of, “The position at X in 2011 was an unpaid assistantship for college credit so I don’t know if I’ll show up as a former employee or not. If you need another way to verify it, please let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the person who managed me there.” But you could even leave off that last sentence and it’ll almost certainly still be fine.

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