sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
I've been at OHSU for a month as of yesterday. Four weeks. Five weeks since I quit my previous job and took a week off before starting the new one.

I'm working in the Liver Pre-Transplant office. My job involves doing benefit checks--finding out what benefits, exactly, the potential patient's insurance covers so our financial coordinator can assess their situation. It involves sending out prior authorization requests (i.e., getting permission from the insurance company/HMO/whoever) for the diagnostics and office visits needed to evaluate someone to determine if they're a good candidate. It involves tracking the authorizations, and the scheduling of office visits and diagnostic tests and getting authorizations for ongoing, specific visits/diagnostics after the evaluation, and helping to manage patients' required medical appointments and labs (i.e., making sure they know when something is coming due, making sure orders for the medical care are in place so they can be seen, making sure the appointments are scheduled (or in some cases, scheduling them myself). I also enter lab results into the system, and upload diagnostic results from outside offices, and lots of other things.

I spent two weeks being trained and getting a little hands-on experience--and feeling completely lost. There's a ton of stuff you need to know to do this job. I often felt like I was floundering, or stumbling around in the dark unable to piece it all together. So did Carrie, the woman who was being trained with me to take my equivalent role in the Kidney pre-transplant office. But everyone around us--our boss, our trainer, our co-workers and random people who encountered there at OHSU--told us the same thing again and again and again.

It IS a big job. It DOES take a long time to learn. We were doing great, and we shouldn't be hard on ourselves. We'll get it. I was willing to take their word for it, that they knew what they were talking about...but it didn't feel like it.

I've spent the last two weeks, since my initial training, working alongside my counterpart. We split the pre-transplant liver patients between us; I handle A-K, she handles L-Z. Or we will once I'm up to speed, right now we're working closely on all of them while I continue getting up to speed. And...and I feel like I'm getting there. I still have lots to learn, and the job is like a jigsaw puzzle but I've assembled the border now and big pieces of it are coming together, and I'm confident that I'll be able to fill in the rest with time and practice. In some ways, the job is fairly repetitive: benefits checks, evaluation authorization requests, listing authorizations, transplant authorizations, managing patient schedules, and so forth. Lather, rinse, repeat.

In other ways, it's a constant challenge and nobody EVER knows it all because things are constantly in flux. Patients change insurance providers. Plans change. Rules change. Laws change. And when all that remains constant, patients change--they get better, they get worse, and their needs change accordingly. So I'm never going to be in a place where I don't have to ask questions and puzzle out the whys and wherefores of things. But I'm getting a handle on the basics.

And I love it. Time flies. By the time I left my previous job, I hated it. I watched the clock, eager for my next break, or lunch, or the end of the day. The soulless micromanagement of a call center was soul-grinding. But this job, I love. I'm working hard, and learning, and time flies. It's useful, valuable work and it makes a difference to the patients we're working with, which is both exciting and sometimes a little scary. My bosses and my co-workers assume I'm capable and willing to do the job, and continue to be endlessly encouraging, and I'm not being micromanaged, and it's glorious.

So, yeah, I really like this job, and I'm very pleased to have it. It's been a long-overdue and positive change.
sinanju: The Shadow (Default)
So, in 2009 I was laid off from a job I'd had for fifteen years. It was a shock, but not entirely surprising. I'd survived several previous rounds of layoffs and with the economy in the toilet, fundraising (it was a non-profit) was down, so budget cuts were the order of the day. And as the highest-paid admin assistant in my department, well, you take your savings where you can.

In 2011 I found a part-time job doing data entry for a company that runs a loadboard (an online marketplace where brokers needing loads moved can find truckers, who need to find work moving loads). I did that for about two years, then got promoted to full-time. I made outbound calls to get insurance information on carriers (truckers), took inbound calls for billing, freightmatching, customer service, and activation and training on the various software packages we sell for accessing the loadboard.

Did I mention it was a call center. It was. I'd never worked in a call center before, and I never will again, God willing. You're chained to your telephone for eight hours a day. Every moment of your time is monitored and judged, and your calls are recorded. And judged. And you're expected to achieve a variety of conflicting goals all the time. (It got to be a joke amongst my team. Whichever "metric" was trailing would become the focus of frequent emails from the managers about improving it. We'd change focus accordingly, only to have another metric fall--and become the focus of frantic exhortations to get that one back up. It was a never-ending treadmill of incompatible goals. You CANNOT physically do everything they want you to do at the level they want it done. You CAN'T.)

So you learn to focus on what really matters--which means, whatever measures YOU are getting assessed on. In my case, it was outbound percentage. I was supposed spend 30% of my on-the-clock time doing outbound calls. So I set my phone in "after call" so that incoming calls (another "top" priority among many) wouldn't reach me and stayed in that state all day every day so I could make outbound calls. I wasn't supposed to do that, but what the hell. Occasionally I'd get an IM (yes, not just emails, we got IMs too) to take a call if the queues were backed up, but mostly I avoided incoming calls for months.

Then we got new phones, and they took "after call" away from us. And expected us to do outbound calls AND take inbound calls AND document everything AND do all the other back-end stuff without any time to focus on it. And bumped our outbound quota to 35%. And while our department was responsible for taking inbound calls (to help another department) when that department made their monthly goals (with our help), did we get any rewards? No. Just them. And that's when I decided my job had gone from tolerable (didn't love it, didn't hate it, it was just a job) to intolerable.

The company provides (an actually pretty nice) anniversary luncheon each month for people hired in that month. At the last one, I was pretty much the only person from my department in a room of a dozen people or more. They all talked about how much they liked working there, and how they were left alone to do their job and didn't have people looking over their shoulders all the time and micromanaging them, and how the company felt like a family. I listened to these people and thought (but didn't say), "I work at [COMPANY], where the hell do YOU work?" But apparently the call center is very different from the rest of the company there.

Maybe all call centers are like that. I don't know. But I do know that there'd always been fairly high turnover in the call center, but nothing like the turnover in my department in the last few months. One guy decamped to the Billing department downstairs "where the managers have souls." Others have found new jobs and left. I've been looking for work for a while--

--and now I have a new job. I'm going to working at OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University if you're not from around here) in the organ transplant area. I'll be temping at first, but have every hope of getting hired on as a regular employee. I gave notice at work on Friday. I'm really, really looking forward to this change.

It's exciting. And a little anxious-making. I'm going to have to master new skills, learn a new schedule. Especially my commuting schedule. OHSU is hard to reach, parking is extremely limited (and expensive, if you drive at all) and I will probably end up taking public transit. Bus? Tram? A combination of the two? That remains to be determined. Learning the job will probably take longer, but I'm looking forward to that. It will be important, useful work with people who will treat me like an intelligent, capable adult and not a cog in a machine. other news. Today is my 17th wedding anniversary. Snippy and I tied the knot on a very rainy February evening seventeen years ago today. To celebrate we went to The Melting Pot, where we enjoyed choose fondue, salads, meat entrees (French Quarter--spiced shrimp, pork, chicken, steak and sausages--for me, and half teriyaki marinaded sirloin and half filet mignon for Snippy), and dark chocolate fondue on bananas, strawberries, marshmallows and fudge bites for dessert. We talked a lot, decided to plan a getaway to Disneyland for our 20th anniversary, and generally had a great time. We also had a photo taken of us, which we plan to send to my mother back east. She'll enjoy that.


sinanju: The Shadow (Default)

August 2017

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