boss wants me to work for someone who was imprisoned for fraud, online degrees, and more

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

1. My boss wants me to work for someone who was imprisoned for Medicare fraud

For the past 18 months, I’ve worked full-time for a physician. I am her only employee, so I’m responsible for not only general office work, but I also create and submit claims to insurance companies for patient visits. I work from the office Monday-Thursday when she sees patients, and on Fridays I work from home.

She recently proposed the idea of letting another doctor, who was responsible for hiring her after medical school, use her office on Fridays when she does not see patients. As part of that, I would need to come in on Fridays to assist this doctor. Long story short, this doctor was recently released after spending three months in prison for Medicare fraud and was also placed on probation by his state’s medical board. She considers this doctor a friend and she says she would be helping someone out who was “stupid” as opposed to acting criminally.

Because I am a chronic people pleaser and was caught off-guard, I basically said yes and even suggested a few patients we could send his way. Upon further reflection, I really do not want to get involved with this man and his business in any way. I do not know him or the circumstances of his imprisonment, but I really do not want my name tied to his work in the future. I also am kind of annoyed that she offered my services to this man whom I’ve never met and would not agree to work for if he offered me a job. What is the best way to approach my boss about this?

How’s your rapport with your boss? If it’s pretty good (and hopefully it is since it’s just the two of you), I’d say this: “I’ve given this more thought, and I’m not comfortable working for Bob, given the Medicare fraud. I certainly respect your desire to help him out, but I don’t feel comfortable doing work for him. I’d like to ask that I continue the work I do for you on Fridays from home and not alter the arrangement we’ve had so far.”

If she pushes you to change your mind, you could say, “I really do feel strongly about it. I wouldn’t have accepted a job with Bob, and I don’t feel comfortable ending up working for him now.”

Ultimately, she’s your boss and it’s her prerogative to say that this is now part of your job. If that happens, at that point you’d need to decide if you want the job under those changed conditions or not. But it’s reasonable to open up a conversation about it.

2. Asking for a partial telecommuting or flex schedule

I am currently employed in Baltimore, but my dream job at my dream nonprofit organization in northern Virginia has just opened up. They contacted me about this opportunity.

I’ve been through two phone interviews – one with HR and one with the person who may be the supervisor for the position (due to restructuring, it could be her boss). They have told me they are more than impressed with my experience, etc., and the topic of where I live and where they are headquartered did come up during the initial HR phone screening.

This organization does allow employees to telecommute. The HR person danced around a possible policy that states an employee must be there for a certain amount of time first; she wasn’t sure if that was the case or if it was up to the manager for the position. I suggested an alternative for the first several months of employment, should I be the candidate they choose. Baltimore to northern Virginia isn’t an impossible drive during non-rush-hour times, so I suggested a schedule that would allow me a few hours to work from home in the evening and/or morning, and avoid rush hour traffic. I would be in every day at first and we could work on a telecommuting schedule. She left it open, and said it’s something that could be discussed. During the second interview, it was never mentioned.

For family reasons, I would not be able to work full-time in northern Virginia so a flexible schedule is a must. The commute would add hours to my day that I can’t afford to give up. I am 99.9% sure they are going to invite me in for a face-to-face. Should I bring this subject up if they don’t during the next interview or wait to see if an offer is made? I am flexible with being in the office, but can’t do 8+ hours AND potentially 4+ hours in the car too.

Well, they know this is an issue and they know your proposal for handling it. I’d leave it alone for now and just see how the rest of the process plays out. If they make you an offer without addressing this, you can raise it again then. But for now, I’d assume that the HR person has passed it along to the hiring manager, and the hiring manager is keeping it in mind as an issue that will need to be resolved. If the HR person sucks and hasn’t passed it along, that doesn’t really change my advice — I’d still wait and bring it up at the offer stage, and you can mention then that you had some preliminary conversation with the HR person about it.

Whether they’re likely to agree totally depends on them. For some employers and some roles, this wouldn’t be a big deal. For others, it might be a disadvantage to your candidacy but not a deal-breaker, or they might agree only if they think you’re unusually strong. For others, it could be a deal-breaker. There’s no real way to know, and I don’t think there’s a lot to gain by trying to hash it now, before they’ve even figured out if they want to make an offer. Once they do, they’ll have more incentive to get into the details of how this could work.

3. Name change when you’re in public relations

I work in public relations and do on-the-record media interviews for my employers.

I recently divorced and changed my name back to my maiden name. The thing is, I did a lot of interviews using my old name that I’d like future employers to know about when they google me to see old interviews.

How can I note that on my resume? Would I put under a job when I had that name? Would I put it at the top of my resume? Or is this information better to explain on LinkedIn (which it seems a lot of potential employers are looking at?)

I’d put a parenthetical on your resume that briefly explains it. Maybe something like this under the most recent job where you had that name:

“Generated media coverage in the Teapot Times, the Llama-Gram Express, and dozens of other national publications (many interviews done under my previous name, Lavinia Montblanc)”

I wouldn’t just explain it on LinkedIn, as most employers will be primarily looking at your resume.

4. Online degree programs from nonprofit schools

I read some past posts about for profit school models, specifically University of Phoenix and the criticism they face. I wonder if you might initiate a post with your thoughts on nonprofit online degree programs.

I’m working on my second bachelors degree online at ASU (already have a theatre degree and wanted to study information technology). I live in a city with a reputable university that has a similar program in their adult education school. I sometimes wonder what an employer will think of an online degree, especially from ASU (where admission was very, very easy). I’m sure they will put two and two together when they see I’ve been working in one city for many years and my degree date coincides. They may raise eyebrows too when a great university was right at my doorstep.

I can’t keep transferring from program to program wondering who is the most legitimate, but after getting a degree in theatre I want to land with something that I perceive as more solid.

I can’t speak to ASU specifically, but the really key thing when it comes to online degrees is whether the school is nonprofit or for-profit. For-profit schools generally have terrible reputations and often terrible practices to accompany said reputations. The reputation of nonprofit schools is much, much better.

As for online degrees more broadly (assuming we’re talking about nonprofit schools), they’re much more accepted than they were even a few years ago, especially if you pick a rigorous program and can talk about it in a way that demonstrates its rigor. There are certainly still people out there who are wary of them, but there are far fewer of those people now.

{ 231 comments… read them below }

  1. Susan*

    4. I wouldn’t even think it dishonest were you to not mention it’s an online degree on your resume, unless there’s some reason you need to (like a need to show you’re local).

    I did graduate-level coursework in my new field through an online program at Northeastern and didn’t say it was online on my resume but did bring it up in the interview, and in my case I really think having this background to round out my work experience got me the job.

    I think as long as people recognize the name and don’t have negative associations, you’re good. I wouldn’t bat an eye at a state school like ASU.

    I mean, do you feel like you’re getting a subpar education? I was doing 20 hours of reading per week for two classes (and that was before the actual assignments) and had to really be proactive to keep up. It felt as demanding as in-person classes, maybe more so since we didn’t have a professor summarizing the reading in lectures. Don’t shortchange yourself by qualifying your degree if you have the goods.

    1. Jack the treacle eater*

      I have the impression the OP is asking about the attitude to online degrees generally, rather than whether to put it on their CV – they don’t mention resume.

      Having said that, I’m not sure there’s a need to mention the school / university or to underline whether it’s online or not unless specifically asked; and then you have an opening to explain your choice, should it be necessary. Only you (the OP) can know their reasons for the choice, whether the course is academically rigorous enough, and so on.

      There may be too much concern about ‘transferring from course to course’, though – it’s only one change. If there are specific concerns about the course, maybe it would be better to transfer to the ‘bricks and mortar’ school. If there aren’t, and there are sound academic or personal reasons for the online course, stick with it and be clear about them if asked.

      1. OP #4*

        Hi there. Thanks for your replies!

        The great thing about ASU Online is that your degree is still ASU, so there’s no need to worry about how I mention it on my resume. As I start to look for career opportunities more relevant to the degree, I know it will come up in the interview process that I’m either working on the degree or (in a few years) have completed the degree online.

        I feel like I’m getting a good education, too, but that’s all relative I suppose. Being a theatre major was very different than now being an IT major. Not to mention, I’m 30 years old now and a way more mature student. The grade isn’t as important to me as the process of learning is.

        I like the online program I’m in more than the one offered by the brick and mortar school here in my state (the local program is an IT degree focused more on physical infrastructure). It’s helpful to get some reassurance on here that others have done distance (online) learning and been successful. After having a theatre degree there’s so much pressure to make the “right choice,” but that may be an impossible choice.

        1. well*

          Well, you do need to worry about how you mention it on your resume. Does your degree say MA of X from ASU Online or MA of X from ASU? ASU Online is still part of ASU, but it’s very different from ASU.

          This issue has caused a lot of problems for Harvard Extension because a lot of people will write they received a degree from Harvard University, and while Harvard Extension school is part of Harvard’s many schools and taught by Harvard professors, the requirements for getting accepted into the program are very different than the requirements for getting accepted into Harvard. I know Harvard specifically says you have to put Harvard University Extension School on your resume and a background check will show HES and not HU. Some of the other private/ivy league schools in the northeast have the same stipulations.

          So it is something to think about because there are people who may think you’re trying to pull a fast one if you put ASU and not ASU Online. I’d look into what the degree says and what the school suggests because you don’t want all your hard work to come back to haunt you because of specifics in wording.

          1. periwinkle*

            ASU Online is not different from ASU. It’s just an online-only delivery of the courses taught by the same faculty as on-campus courses. Nothing on the transcript or diploma will indicate the course delivery method. That also goes for other established non-profit public and private universities that offer degrees mostly or entirely online. My masters is from a state university and was earned entirely online, but you wouldn’t know it from the documentation. When you run an education background check on me, there’s no asterisk next to the school name with a footnote saying “student probably wore pajamas while doing coursework.”

            Harvard Extension is a different sort of beast because it’s a separate school from the “real” Harvard.

            1. Chalupa Batman*

              Seconded. “ASU Online” is almost certainly just branding. Many reputable universities have online programs that are completely supported by the same faculty and staff that support on campus programming. The Online branding typically just lets students know that all of the required coursework is available online. The courses themselves are typically exactly what an on campus student who took an online class would receive-in fact, to be approved, the program would almost always have to demonstrate equal rigor to what would be required on-campus. The purpose of the “online” moniker at colleges I’ve worked within has been both to appeal to a certain subset of students and to allow the college to code those students who are all-online differently. They’re a particular population, and support services for them are usually different, plus they’re specifically tracked for assessment purposes (grad rates for online vs. on-campus, etc).

          2. Khal E Essi*

            Harvard Extension recommends either “Harvard University Extension School” or “Bachelor [or Master] of Liberal Arts, Extension Studies, Harvard University” on resumes. The latter, I think, is what causes the confusion.

        2. sara*

          So, what I would be concerned about is mostly job placement. It sounds like you’re pursuing this degree not (or at least not only) for the love of learning, but because you want a job afterward! So, I would ask a lot of questions about how many graduates get jobs and where. I might be especially concerned if local networking/internships/etc. are an important part of this job market, because you’re probably less likely to get those things with an online degree — I have no idea at all whether this is the case in your field, but it would be something to ask around about.

          I would suggest doing some informational interviews with people who have the job you eventually want in your field. I did this in school and it was actually really useful for getting a sense of what skills were particularly in demand and how different options I was considering might be perceived by potential employers. You can ask about how an online degree would be perceived, and the extent to which college-based networking or local events, etc. are important for landing a first job.

    2. Green*

      I am under the impression (correct me if I’m wrong) that most rigorous schools do not offer students admission for a second bachelor’s degree. A second bachelor’s degree would strike me as odd on a resume and prompt me to do more research into the program.

      1. Cinderling*

        That’s weird in the UK it’s quite common for people to go back to university and get a second or do two at the same time.

      2. shellbell*

        Lots of people get second bachelors from reputable schools. Sometimes they change careers or may pursue a lifelong interest later in life. Some people retire and then pursue an encore career that might require more education. I can’t imagine barring a qualified applicant from a university just because they have one degree. That strikes me as bizarre and deeply unfair to someone who wants more education.

        1. Green*

          None of the top schools in my state (public or private) allow admission for second bachelor degrees.

          1. LAI*

            I work in higher ed and am aware of some very highly ranked schools that accept 2nd BAs. It is usually a very small number and only a few degree programs that allow it, but they are equal in rigor to the 1st BAs.

          2. Pam Adams*

            My California State University campus doesn’t currently accept students for second bachelor’s, but it’s a matter of scarce resources. As a not-very-well-funded public campus, we have to turn away too many students wanting first degrees, so we don’t have room for the second ones.

            1. De Minimis*

              Was going to say the same, schools often refuse them due to funding/space issues.

              In my case I went back to school in a totally new field and just had to take a year’s worth of prerequisites before formally beginning my graduate program. I’d wager many schools would have a similar option as an alternative to a second bachelor’s.

        2. peanut butter kisses*

          It is common to have many degrees where I work. I work in a university library and we attract candidates who will often have two bachelors in addition to their masters in library science. Some have two masters as well. Many even get a doctorate and still take classes after that in addition to teaching on the side. We offer a massive tuition discount to staff and this affects the kind of people who apply.

      3. TrainerGirl*

        Perhaps I’m not clear on what you’re defining as a “rigorous” school. I was planning to go back for a 2nd BS degree (my first was a Business Admin degree) in Multimedia Design, and had no problem getting accepted by good schools. Not Harvard, Yale, etc. but very good nonetheless. I didn’t end up getting the Bachelors; I decided to complete a certificate at a local community college, which doesn’t seem to be an issue either. I think that as long as the school has a good reputation, an online degree is okay.

        1. shellbell*

          I attended a very rigorous school and met several people working on a second bachelors. Most were adult students who were changing careers. One was a retired person getting a second degree just to pursue a passion and get more education.

      4. anonanonanon*

        I received two bachelor degrees from a reputable public university when I was in undergrad. I had to obtain special approval from the dean of students, but I was able to do it. I finished my first BA early by doubling up on courses in my sophomore year (I needed special approval for that as well) and then needed a set number of credits to graduate. So I did a second major in Anthro, but I only needed 2 extra courses to get an extra degree, so I took those to obtain my second BA.

        There were plenty of people I knew there who were also going back to school for a second BA after they had graduated. I don’t see why it’s odd if someone goes back to school for a second BA because of a career change.

        1. Green*

          Double major is very common and different than finishing a bachelor’s and then re-matriculating as a first year student. It sounds as though people know folks who have done this, but it’s definitely out of line with my experience–the schools I’ve looked up have a policy prohibiting second bachelor’s degrees. Anyway, it’s not a reason not to pursue a second degree, but it probably is helpful to be aware that lots of people also have experience with schools that don’t permit this and so it may draw extra scrutiny.

          1. anonanonanon*

            No, I received a double bachelors, not a double major. As in two diplomas, so double the work of receiving one bachelors degree.

            The only policies I’ve seen prohibiting this is going for a double bachelors at the same time unless you have special approval, as I did. My company has hired a few people with second bachelor’s and it’s barely even garnered a second glance. I think there may be extra scrutiny in some industries, but a lot probably won’t care. It seems petty to penalize someone, say, for applying to a marketing job with a BA in Marketing that they received 10 years after their first BA in something else.

            1. doreen*

              When you say “double the work” , I’m a little confused about whether you mean you completed 1)double the 120 or so credits (240 credits total) required for a bachelors degree or 2)30 credit or so major requirements in 2 separate areas. (150 or so credits total).

              Doing the first doesn’t make sense- why would you do 240 credits in one stint to get two degrees? But I don’t get what the difference between the second and a double major. Is it just that there are two separate diplomas?

              1. Em Kresge*

                I am doing two bachelor’s degrees ad an undergrad at a sole institution. The difference for me is I am in two separate colleges at my large university and completing two sets of distribution requirements (with some overlap). To get a BA from either college requires 120 credits, my program allows me to get 2 BAs with 150 credits.

          2. Wendy Darling*

            I actually find it incredibly weird that it’s not done where you are, because everywhere I’ve lived it is INCREDIBLY common. I’ve literally never heard of anywhere not allowing it. I sincerely doubt that “lots of people” have experience with schools that don’t permit it. :/ Your experience sounds very, very atypical.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think two separate bachelor’s degrees looks a little odd, unless there’s a specific explanation for it (like doing them concurrently like anonanonanon above or something similar). When I’ve seen it, I’ve wondered why the person chose to do it that way, rather than a master’s in the second subject or just additional coursework in it. For me it raises questions about whether the person totally understands the pros and cons of the options available to them once they already have the original bachelors, which can speak to general savviness.

            I’m not rejecting anyone over it, but I’ve never seen it done by a really strong candidate (doesn’t mean there aren’t strong candidates out there who have done it, of course — and again, there can be specific circumstances that explain it) so it does give me some pause when I see it.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’ll also add that as far as I know, it’s true that the more competitive the school, the less likely it is to admit someone seeking a second bachelor’s. They might admit you as a post-bac student though (non-degree seeking but taking more undergraduate courses).

              1. HardwoodFloors*

                I have two bachelor’s conferred about five years apart (and with about three years work experience concurrent with second bachelor’s and not from first school). I was studying my passion, engineering, originally and could not deal with being the only woman in every class I had and I switched to Chemistry to finish my bachelor’s. Then I had the opportunity to finish my bachelor’s in engineering in a better environment and did. It was a few years back- you do what you have to do

            2. I'm a Little Teapot*

              It’s extremely common in nursing – to the point where you’d be eliminating a sizable chunk of your applicant pool if you discarded apps from people with a second bachelor’s if you’re hiring a nurse. (I’m not a nurse, but I’ve worked in healthcare, higher ed, and related jobs.)

                1. Wehaf*

                  My brother-in-law got his second bachelor degree from UNC (Charlotte) in computer science. The University of Pittsburgh also offers second bachelor programs in nursing and computer science, and probably other fields. I think it’s not uncommon, especially if the first degree was some time ago in a different area. At many colleges, the core/gen-ed requirements for bachelor degrees are different in the humanities and arts vs. science and engineering, so lots of coursework doesn’t transfer if you did a degree in creative writing and are now looking to get a bachelor of science in chemical engineering.

              1. Awkially Socward*

                It’s also extremely common in OT as well. I would say about 10+% or so of my cohort were on their second Bachelors.

              2. Cordelia Naismith*

                I was just going to say this. The only 2nd degree programs I know of (designed for people who already have a bachelor’s degree to come back and get a second one) are for nursing.

                1. MaggiePi*

                  I’ve seen it for nursing as well. I think it happens the most with medical related degrees because the jobs are very tied to degree level, and from what I’ve seen many masters and above programs do not except without the related bachelors (unlike law and many other fields).

            3. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

              Alison, to be blunt, often Bachelor courses are easier than Master courses. Would you interpret someone getting a second Bachelor degree as taking the easy way out? Probably not phrasing this in the best way but it is all I can think of at this time.

              Second, my BS is in Computer Science and I got it over 20 years ago. Let’s just say that I wanted to change careers to accounting. If I pursued a Master degree, I would most likely have to take a ton of undergrad accounting courses just to learn the basics before I could even take a Master level class. To me it would make sense to get the Bachelor degree because I would probably have to take those classes anyway.

              The reason I would want the degree instead of just taking non-degree seeking courses is because my current employer (and I am sure others) require an *accounting* degree for most accounting jobs. Years of experience or any amount of classes is *not* a substitute.


              1. Kat M*

                Also, sometimes students who are completing their second degree in a different country with a different language. Masters level work is difficult enough while trying to become fluent. Sometimes it’s worth it to go back and write undergrad-level papers until you know you can handle the work in the new language.

            4. Newby*

              Do people who get a second bachelor’s degree simply remove the first one from their resume? If it really is completely irrelevant to the job that they want, why talk about it at all?

            5. Chameleon*

              That seems like you’d be generally rejecting career changers, then? There are a fair amount of careers where you really do need a BA or BS in the subject in order to progress, not just some classes. I guess that isn’t true in your field? (Like, could someone with a BS in Chemistry just apply straight into a Master’s in Public Policy or something?) But when I was looking at grad schools, it was *technically* possible to get in with a non-science degree but would have been extremely difficult and required just as much coursework as a second Bachelor’s did.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                You know, you’re right that I’m thinking about this in terms of the candidates who I see — I’m not hiring in science fields, so when I see this, it’s generally someone where the second degree is something humanities/liberal arts and then I’m left wondering why the person thought a second bachelor’s in history or poli sci made sense. But you’re right that it’s different in some other specific fields.

                1. Tau*

                  I was thinking this might be it. The two people I know with a second bachelor’s have a first BSc in a humanities degree and then a second one in STEM – maths and computer science. In both cases, I don’t think you could go into a Master’s without the grounding from an undergrad degree in a closely related subject.

                2. MaggiePi*

                  Yep, I agree with Tau. I think a big part of what I’m reading in these comments the divide between B.A.s and B.S.s

              2. Green*

                So I thought about going to school in a science graduate program but wound up going for a professional degree in law. The more typical path among my peers at the schools I went to is to pick up the *courses* you need rather than requiring specific degrees. So for an MPP you may need Statistics, but it’s possible to graduate without Statistics in many degrees, so you’d need to seek a waiver or take a Stats class at a community college or university to supplement your transcript.

              3. Margaret*

                Yes, I’m confused about why anyone would be against a second bachelors degree, and I think you’re not thinking about the prereqs involved if you’re making a total career switch! I work in accounting and know plenty of people who have made it a second career, and not only is a masters in accounting fairly rare for anyone, unless your first bachelors degree was in business you’re unlikely to have the background needed for it, so most people doing so get a second bachelors degree.

                My husband is currently doing a second bachelors in engineering, after his first degree in psychology followed by a masters in teaching. Neither of those degrees would remotely qualify him for a masters in engineering! (Though he might end up getting a masters before building a career, my understanding is its common in some niches.)

                1. De Minimis*

                  Where I live, master’s degrees in accounting are fairly common, both for career changers and as a way to gain the qualifications for the CPA exam, but maybe it varies regionally.

            6. Jack the treacle eater*

              Got to be honest, I’m really suprised you’d consider a second degree as a potential danger sign, or that universities would ban second degrees. Second degrees are fairly common in the UK; for example, a family member’s partner did a first degree in anthropology, then a second degree in medicine.

              Often as people increasingly specialise or refine their career direction a second degree becomes necessary, or at least advisable. For me it’s perhaps a bit naive to expect everyone of university age to get their degree choice right first time or not to wish to refine their direction or specialise; for a drastic change of direction, it speaks well of someone that they are prepared to admit they got it wrong.

              Further, circumstances change; what, for example, if you’d gone into university to study geology a few years ago when oil and commodity prices were sky high, and graduated in the last couple of years with oil and commodities in free fall and everyone laying off geologists?

              I can’t help feeling it’s admirable that someone is prepared to admit a change of direction is necessary or beneficial and is ready to commit that additional time, effort and money to achieve a second degree; it shows commitment, dedication and self awareness, not a lack of savvy.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Change of direction is great — but it often doesn’t take a second bachelor’s to do it. When I see it (and note above that I might have a different frame of reference than people in other fields), it often indicates that the person overlooked more effective ways of doing that direction change.

                1. Amadeo*

                  I have to admit, I’m really confused by this point of view and never considered it. I work at a university and get free tuition as a job perk and so am taking classes toward a BS in Web Development/IT. My first is a BFA in Graphic Design. Masters degrees are on a whole other level and even people who can do those classes full time often lose sleep trying to keep up.

                  How would I more effectively add to my abilities/skills without more classes/a second Bachelors? I’m not going to learn Web Development in the New Media Masters degree my university offers.

                2. Jack the treacle eater*

                  Point taken about the frame of reference. I have a scientific degree in one field but have moved into another, and I’m really banging my head against a glass ceiling in that second field unless I go back and take another degree. There may be other ways of doing it, but they’re more difficult and open to employer prejudice.

                3. One of the Sarahs*

                  I did my first degree in history, and in my 30s had a choice of going for promotion, or going back for more education, and maybe shifting that into a different career direction. I could have done a Masters in history, or in literature, but I chose to do a college course and then a second degree in photography, which, for me, was way harder and more expensive than one of those Masters would have been – but also more rewarding.

                  Obviously that’s anecdata, but there are hundreds of other reasons people may want to do a second degree – especially if there’s anything technical/specific about their subject. My brother, eg, had to do a music degree before he got a music-specific teaching qualification.

                  I hate the idea that people who made their choice of degrees at 18, and want to change careers, or pursue interests, or education for educations’s sake, are somehow seen as dodgy – for me, educational opportunities should be there for all someone’s life.

            7. AcademiaNut*

              The cases where I’ve seen it have involved totally different degrees, where there was basically no overlap in coursework (history, and then physics). The two degrees overlapped only in the first year English requirement, and you can’t add a few extra courses to a history degree and get a job as a physicist. I know many more people who switched majors mid-stream, or did non-degree or Masters’ training after the first degree, to switch work areas (coding, journalism, photography for the first, and masters’ degrees in librarianship, education, business).

              For someone with, say, a chemistry degree who was interested in graduate work in astronomy, they might need to do some make-up undergrad level courses to fill in the gaps in basic knowledge, but their initial degree would have to be very strong to get into a grad program, and they wouldn’t get a second degree.

              If I saw a theatre studies degree followed by IT, I’d assume that they couldn’t get work with theatre studies and were retraining in something practical, but I would wonder why they were doing an entire second bachelor’s rather than a shorter focussed community college program or a coding boot camp.

              I agree with Alison that the more competitive the school, the less likely a second bachelors or a just-as-good-as online degree is, partly because of supply (a place like Harvard turns away a lot of very qualified first run students), and because of not wanting to water down the prestige of the name.

              1. Jack the treacle eater*

                It’s odd, from what I’ve seen – though admittedly on the basis of no statistical evidence whatsoever – I’d say that Russell Group universities in this country support second degree students, because of the commitment they have to the course.

              2. BananaPants*

                I’m an engineer, and very VERY few universities will admit someone for graduate coursework in engineering without an undergrad degree in the field or something very closely related. So a someone who majored in mechanical engineering as an undergrad could probably get into a structural engineering master’s program – but someone who majored in chemistry or art history would have to go back and take a ton of coursework to be able to handle a graduate program at that level. I don’t blame a career changer for thinking they might as well get another bachelor’s degree and transfer in their gen eds.

                There are also implications for licensure. If an aspiring engineer expects to need a PE license, earning an ABET-accredited bachelor’s degree (as a second bachelor’s) may be easier and cheaper than taking a pile of prereqs and then going to grad school.

                It’s also very common in nursing and other allied health fields where there’s often a career change involved after the first bachelor’s degree was earned.

            8. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

              I have seen it.

              Someone may have gone to Little University in the Hills, and obtained an elementary education degree (bachelor’s).

              Then after life changes and career changes, he / she wants a degree in computer science. Grad school for an M.S. is probably not an option as there may not have been any pre-req courses in that concentration – no statistics, no physics, no computer languages, no IS/IT. So that individual begins taking courses at Enormous State University.

              Most programs require a certain number of credit hours in a major – AND – that you take your last 30 credit hours at the degree-granting institution.

              So – what this person may do is apply SOME of the credits from her B.A. to the new degree – and complete requirements for the B.S. in Computer Science (a long road to be sure). But I’ve known people to have two bachelor’s degrees, if admission to a master’s program isn’t possible.

            9. Op #4*

              Glad this post opened some good discussion and brought to light that distance learning programs have been around for many years!

              Considering I have a degree in theatre and am getting a second bachelors in information technology, I feel like I fall into the category of where a second bachelors makes sense versus going straight to grad school. I don’t have any previous coursework or experience relevant to IT where a “straight-to-grad-school” approach seemed to make sense.

              It gives me some pause though. Similar to the question of getting an online degree and wondering if it was worth the time (which I’ve concluded that is it after this post), I think the real question is if I should have gone the second bachelor’s degree route or straight to grade school. I feel like I did a lot of soul searching on that subject, but now my world is being shaken again!

              1. One of the Sarahs*

                As someone who second guesses a lot, and who did that a lot about my second degree, just focus on where you are now, and not let worries distract you from getting the work done! (Oh so easy to say!)

                1. Jack the treacle eater*

                  Yes, don’t over think it. You are doing what is right for you, for sound reasons – and most posts here seem to support second degrees, particularly in science and technology subjects.

          4. Jen*

            I’ve seen it a lot for undergraduates who do a liberal arts type degree then want to pursue a career in something like nursing.

            My sister has a BA in psychology from U Michigan and a few years after graduating and working in the public sector, she got her BS (and eventually a MsN) in Nursing from NYU. Both what I’d consider good schools, and she has 2 bachelors obtained at 2 different times.

          5. MsChanandlerBong*

            It would never even occur to me that a school wouldn’t allow someone to complete a second bachelor’s degree.

              1. Kat M*

                Except that it’s not, unfortunately. 2nd degrees rarely qualify for government financial aid.

                1. Agnes*

                  A lot of the reasoning is that there is a fair amount in a bachelor’s degree that is general – a lot of foundation work across the disciplines. So the idea that you would go back and repeat that is weird. And a lot of the skills you are supposed to learn in college are non-discipline-specific – writing, critical thinking, etc. So you should already have them, not need to repeat. If you wanted to switch to a new field, you would ordinarily just take the extra courses, rather than do a whole new bachelors degree.
                  Now, a lot of more professional degrees don’t have much of a liberal arts/general ed basis, which is why they are more likely as a 2nd bachelors.

                2. anncakes*

                  I wouldn’t say rarely. I had no trouble getting a federal loan for my second degree coursework. You often become ineligible for state and institutional aid, and some people may have met lifetime caps on some federal programs with their first degree, but overall, if you’re matriculated and a degree student, you’re eligible for federal loans. It’s when you’re listed as a post-bac or non-degree student that you don’t have access.

                  And replying to Agnes, as for the foundational work, second degree students are listed as transfers, and they can apply a certain number of credits from their first degree to their program. I didn’t end up finishing my second degree because I got into the professional school I was aiming for in the first place, but I had to take a grand total of zero writing, English 101, foreign language, etc. classes. The transfer equivalencies made it so I could focus on doing the coursework for my intended major. Since I was lacking the foundational courses in my new major, of course I had to take those courses, but there was no repetition of anything I had done previously.

                  And I don’t understand the point about professional degrees not having a gen-ed basis. Of course they don’t. But that doesn’t mean that someone with any old Bachelors is able to go into that specific professional school or even into any Masters program. The program I’m doing simply required coursework in the sciences that I had never done, and there was absolutely no way to get into the program without that background. The same holds true for a lot of Masters programs, so I don’t understand this assumption that the solution for career changers is supposed to be “just get a Masters” when the problem is that they’re lacking the foundation in a totally unrelated field. Okay, sure, I’ll take my English degree and apply for an MS in Chemistry and let everyone know how well that goes.

          6. Liz*

            I work at a nationally-ranked university, and we have many students taking a second bachelor’s degree. Sometimes they’re coming back to school in a new subject, sometimes they’re refreshing qualifications they took decades ago, sometimes they just have multiple fields of interest. And it’s not uncommon for students to have double degrees or double majors either.

            I’m very surprised to hear there are schools prohibiting a second bachelor’s degree.

            1. Green*

              I’m just going to list the schools I looked up when I was talking about this. I’m in the mid-Atlantic states, so I’m going to be biased towards that region. At any rate, the point is that I didn’t just invent these prohibitions and my skepticism was perhaps unfair (and definitely unfounded for specific fields like nursing), but I am definitely not the only person who has experience with schools that don’t allow second bachelor’s degrees.
              (1) UVA does not allow second bachelor’s.
              (2) UNC admits second bachelor’s only to health sciences (nursing, dental hygiene, etc.):
              (3) NYU (listed by a commenter earlier) only allows it engineering or nursing.
              (4) Duke only allows it for nursing (Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing).
              (5) Princeton does not allow second bachelor’s degrees.
              (6) Georgetown offers it only for nursing.
              (7) Florida only offers it for health program students who need to meet an admissions standard for a graduate program.

              1. Jack the treacle eater*

                Suspect that says a lot more about the attitude of the universities concerned than the merit or otherwise of doing a second degree.

              2. anncakes*

                UVA doesn’t allow second degree students, but George Mason does. Princeton is private and doesn’t allow second degree students OR transfer students for first degrees, but Rutgers (public) does. NYU (private) doesn’t allow second degree students, but the SUNY system does. Some top tier schools may not have room for second degree students, but many other reputable universities do.

      5. OP #4*

        Well, this made the most sense for me. With a theatre degree it’s hard to get into a grad program for a more technical field. I’m not really worried about showing two bachelor’s degrees.

        As for ASU vs. ASU Online. Very clear from the University that you are receiving a degree from ASU and that the programs online are just as rigorous as being a brick and mortar student. There are no ethical issues at stake by saying ASU and not ASU online.

      6. Chameleon*

        I have a second bachelor’s degree from a top-ranked state school. My first degree was in a liberal arts major; ten years later I decided to go into a hard science. I didn’t have to take a whole four years, since my first degree fulfilled the Gen Ed requirements, so I just had to fulfill the major coursework.

        I had to enroll as a post-baccalaureate, and there was a bunch of financial aid I was not qualified for, but there was absolutely no issue with me getting into the program, nor was there an issue of getting into a prestigious grad school afterward.

      7. Callie*

        I teach at a large R1 and we do offer second bachelor’s in many fields, including the one I’m in. This usually happens when someone wants a completely different degree than they got the first time around (think math first, then music performance, or some such.)

      8. Artemesia*

        I agree with this. Most people who want additional training would go to get a masters after a bachelors. If it were a highly technical field, they might do some coursework prerequisites but then go ahead and get a masters. A second bachelors feels like spinning your wheels. A double major is common , but a whole second degree? I’d look for advance training or certification that didn’t come across as a retread.

    3. Person of Interest*

      I was in the same situation – I did an online Masters program from Northwestern, which is the exact same program that they offer on campus. I didn’t mention the online part on my resume; sometimes I mentioned that I was in school part time in my cover letter so it was clear that I was available for FT work. It only came up in interviews since I was living in DC and doing a program based in Chicago so people were like, wait how does that work? Then I could explain that I was doing the program online and that it was the same as the on-campus program. It was never a problem – the Northwestern MPP program is well known and respected in the field. I ended up in a a great job after I completed my degree, so it worked out fine in my case. Good luck!

  2. Jack the treacle eater*

    No. 3, would it be an idea to say ‘… under my married name …’ (or if appropriate. ‘… under my maiden name …’)?

    That way you’ve not only clarified but also explained the name change in one hit, instead of leaving the ‘why the different names’ question hanging.

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Eh, I wouldn’t. I don’t think the reason needs explaining, and it would draw a personal-life element into the interview process. If it were me, or someone I was advising, I would stick with “my former name” or “my previous name”.

      1. Artemesia*

        For women one doesn’t need to draw attention to one’s personal business by stating ‘married name’ and ‘maiden name’ etc This is just assumed and often people will assume marriage rather than divorce. You don’t want the employer thinking about your private life in this way. Just identifying it as a former name suffices.

    2. Random Lurker*

      To a rational person – no I don’t think it’s a big deal. However, I’ve witnessed people in my career moralize over things that seem very commonplace – including divorce (please don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just sharing what I’ve observed). I’d use Alison’s advice, just to avoid possibly being judged by someone who would judge me on such things.

      1. Jack the Treacle Eater*

        OK. To be honest I was thinking the other way – married / single is conventional and commonplace, while ‘my former name’ might make people automatically think marriage, but I’ve come across people who would think something odd / underhand might be going on.

        Having said that, the conventional thing might not be to emphasise ‘former’ or ‘current’ at all – where writers use two names, isn’t it normally just ‘… as Josephine Bloggs’

        1. JessaB*

          I would too, there’s no reason to say anything but “under the name of X.” Many writers even write under different pen names in different industries (JK Rowling is Robert Galbraith for instance.) So to put wrote for the Post as Melissa Daniels and wrote for the Sci-fi Times as Missy Gallifrey, is not outrageous. So putting wrote as [married name] then further on, wrote as [current name] is just normal in writing. Whether you changed your name due to divorce, cultural reasons for where you’re writing (in some locations you might be at risk for certain types of stories,) or just because you hated your name and finally had the bucks to change it, doesn’t matter. Just put the name

        1. JessaB*

          True, but I also think there’s a bunch of cultural stuff tied into maiden name/married name, that really ought to be avoided nowadays in a resume. Your marital status is not something your achievements should be judged on and I see no reason to actually put something on paper (even electronic paper) that brings that into the mix.

        2. Artemesia*

          Most people want to work; jobs are not always easy to find; one doesn’t have the luxury of always working for perfect people.

          1. Koko*

            Yes, this. I was in a polyamorous relationship for many years, and while in a perfect world I would have loved to be able to pick a non-judgmental employer, the reality of the world we actually live in was that I could assume that more than a few people at most any place I applied to work would have a moral hang-up about consensual non-monogamy and that it was smarter to just keep my personal life private.

  3. Seal*

    #4 – Library schools have been offering degrees through distance education for at least 15 years. I got my MLIS from the University of Illinois – long ranked the top library school in the country – a decade ago while working full time as a staff member in a library several states away. The degree I got was identical to the one they give to the on-campus students. When interviewing, it was obvious that I did my degree online; there was no way I could have been in two places at once. I tell anyone who asks that I chose Illinois both because I really liked the program but also because I got into the top library school in the country; I did it online because it allowed me to continue working a full time library job I had had for years. In fact, it was the combination of my full time experience and the MLIS I got online that got me my first position as a librarian.

    People choose schools and programs for a wide variety of reasons, not just because of their location. If you like the program you’re in and feel that you’re getting a good education from a reputable school, you’re fine.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I’m wondering if there is a difference between professional development, and a bachelor’s degree. In your example, you were already in the field, and were expanding your professional certifications – in a similar line, I have a friend who added an on-line MLIS to a traditional BSc, and went into scientific libriarianship.

      I suspect two on-line Bachelor’s degress in widely disparate fields might be viewed differently.

      I think it also matters what the OP wants to do with the degree, and how important the details are in that particular case. An online coding degree, with a solid coding portfolio could be very applicable. In my field, though, an online degree is basically useless.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        I suspect two on-line Bachelor’s degress in widely disparate fields might be viewed differently.

        I was going to say this. OP, if you have a traditional college education along with the online learning, you should be fine, especially since your online school isn’t a for-profit program.

        1. OP #4*

          Thanks, that is helpful!

          Yes, I went to college, brick and mortar, and got my BA in Theatre so I do have that.

          I almost view this online degree as professional development. I’ve heard many IT folks are self taught (IT as a major is a relatively new thing). I think I’m finding an interest in coding and programming which I constantly hear that many are self taught in (but there are also plenty to have computer science degrees).

          I like this major because I feel like it’s giving me some solid, practical skills. Maybe one day I’ll find a deep interest in one topic and go to grad school, but I feel like this is opening doors for me to find something that interests me and work . toward it

    2. Mookie*

      (This was the exact program I was thinking of as an example of something reputable and on-line, one of the gold standards in the US.)

    3. OP #4*

      Thanks for the reply! I’m liking the program a lot and feel like I’m learning a lot. I work full time in an office job, just bought a house, trying to live my life and get some more education. The program works better for me for sure being online.

    4. Judy*

      Masters degrees in engineering have been offered through distance education for at least 25 years, that I know of. A quick google search says the system I saw people taking “satellite” courses on in my state was created in 1967. Back in the 80s and 90s, employers throughout the state would receive satellite signals real time, and the employee would sit in a small conference room and watch the class. There was a direct line into the classroom. By the 90s, there was a bank of VCRs in the HR area programmed to record a given class, and you went down to pick up your class at the end of the day. In the early 2000s, this was moved to streaming and downloadable lectures.

    5. Hesitant para-librarian*

      I’ve worked at an Ivy-League academic library for several years, been promoted a few times, and have hit the roadblock where I need to get my MLS to advance. University of Illinois seems great, but the sticker price for the online degree is about$42K these days!
      As long as a program is ALA-accredited, how much side-eye would I get for choosing an online program from Valdosta State, San Jose State, SUNY Buffalo, or Clarion University? I’d love to earn the MLS credential for <$20K.

      1. BettyD*

        If it’s ALA accredited and doesn’t have a degree-mill reputation, I think you should be fine with a less expensive program. (Insert stump for my degree home: University of Tennessee- Knoxville!) ;)

        To me, this is a good place to work your professional contacts. Maybe not your actual superiors, but ask folks in your workplace if they have strong opinions on location of online degree program. Another thing to consider is fit- whether attending in the flesh or online. I have a friend with a degree from Simmons; she also looked at U of Illinois because of its excellent reputation and found the program/atmosphere not to her taste.

      2. Dear Liza dear liza*

        As long as it’s ALA accredited, you should be fine. But if you’re at an Ivy and want to stay there, definitely ask your workplace if they have preferences. Sometimes the very prestigious schools can be persnickety.

    6. BananaPants*

      Agreed. I’m going to grad school part time right now at a school that’s extremely well-regarded in the field and is considered by many to have the best graduate education in the world for this specialization. They’ve offered distance learning for the program for years – first it was VHS tapes that were mailed out, then went to CD-ROMs and now streaming video with both on-campus and distance learning students participating together and submitting their work electronically. It’s very rigorous, to the point where they don’t recommend taking more than one class per semester for their distance students who work full time; I regularly spend upwards of 15 hours a week on watching the lecture, doing the reading, and doing projects or problem sets.

      I don’t worry at all about what it will look like on my resume. It’s obvious that I worked full time while going to grad school part time, and folks in this field know that the program is very rigorous b0th on-campus and via distance learning. I’m one of the only distance students to live close enough that in theory I *could* attend classes on-campus, but due to work and family commitments the distance program is a much better option than driving 90 minutes each way and paying tolls on the Mass Pike every week.

  4. The IT Manager*

    I’d be concerned about ASU. I think they advertise their online program widely which makes me think they view it as a moneymaker. That is because they came up in my own search for a masters degree.

    I admit to bias. I attended two professional masters programs (only one online) and neither was that rigorous. Both were associated with traditional brick and mortar universities, but clearly the working professional-oriented online/night school programs weren’t up to the same standards. I was being forced to check that box ASAP, though, so it served its purpose.

    1. Anon for this.*

      SNHU pushes their online program pretty heavily. I’d argue that they’re a reputable school so I guess it all depends school to school.

        1. Granite*

          SNHU has been around a long time, previously as New Hampshire College. Name changed about 2000. They were/are well known in the area as a quality business school. Mascot: Penmen. I know many practicing CPAs and related professionals that went there 20, 30, 40 years ago.

        2. PeachTea*

          No. SNHU was founded in 1932. Their men’s basketball team went to the DII Elite Eight last year. They do advertise heavily, but they are 100% a brick and mortar, non-profit that also happens to have an online option.

          1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Yep I drive by the SNHU campus rather often (it’s nearby).

            Plus, a lot of universities have extension campuses in far-flung corners of the country.

            Some years ago, I worked in a company in New Hampshire – and we had a worker who was working on an M.B.A. (I think) from University of Southern California – which had some type of extension program, if I recall correctly, at nearby Pease Air Force Base.

            Management freaked out when they learned about this, but that’s a “Dinner Table Story” for another day.

      1. NK*

        They may be a reputable brick and mortar school, but I happen to know someone who applied for an online-only teaching job there (who had lots of previous online teaching experience), and the pay was abysmally low. She turned down the job even though she was out of a job, it was that much not worth it. So I’d worry a bit about faculty quality with that school.

    2. OP #4*

      Thanks, The IT Manager.

      ASU has gotten some bad write-ups because of their Starbucks and Pearson partnerships (ASU is the only subsidized option Starbucks employees can choose and Pearson does most of the eLearning platforms for many of the classes).

      Being in my earlier 30s, working on a second bachelor’s degree in IT (and finding I have a interest in programming), and having a few years under my belt as a program manager (manage marketing plans, budgets, etc.), do you have thoughts on how to get some real world practice while I’m working on my degree so that when I interview for an IT job, even those wary of ASU can see that I’m knowledgeable in the field?

      1. Cassandra*

        By all means ask any program you’re considering applying to about this. There may be a practicum/internship program (required or optional), which means that the program would do the legwork to get you placed, and would be there to back you up if something unfortunate happens.

        (My bona fides here: I teach in a library school — not Illinois, though I have taught there as an adjunct — that accepts online students to the program and requires a practicum. We often hear that the practicum experience gets our students hired, so you are not at all wrong to think about it.)

      2. Artemesia*

        Can you do volunteer work that includes this kind of skill? Lots of non-profits have horrifyingly bad web sites (apparently done by their last intern or something) and IT issues. Doing a project for a community group might give you a project for your portfolio.

      3. Callie*

        I wasn’t concerned until I heard Pearson was involved. Their presence in so much of K-12 is bad enough; now they are ubiquitous in higher ed, textbook companies, testing companies, teacher evaulation… it makes me uneasy that one company is firmly entrenched in so many areas.

    3. A Sun Devil*

      I’m interested in what people have to say about this, because I went to ASU (at the actual Tempe campus), and it makes me cringe to hear them advertise their online program so much. I’m afraid it will cheapen my degree — not that ASU was ever regarded as a top-tier school, but when I went there, at least it wasn’t one of those diploma mills that advertise on the radio.

      1. anonanonanon*

        I wouldn’t worry about it. A lot of top-tier schools are offering online programs that award degrees and I think it’s becoming more accepted for a variety of reasons (not everyone can afford a brick and mortar school, some people need classes after work or on weekends, some people can’t pick up and move just to go to school).

        A lot of people earning online degrees put in just as much dedication and work as students in brick and mortar schools.

        1. A Sun Devil*

          Well, I know there are a lot of reputable online degree programs, but they don’t all advertise on Spotify. The fact that they need to advertise to the masses just gives off an air of desperation and kind of makes ASU sound like the University of Phoenix. But maybe it’s just me (and I hope so, because I don’t want people thinking that when they see my ASU degree on my resume).

      2. Op #4*

        I wouldn’t be so critical of your alama mater if you’re judging the online course simply based on the fact that they advertise online. The fact is that the coursework is not a walk in the park and no one is going to put that degree on their resume until they work for it. I think the Starbucks partnership is a cool thing, but I wonder how many will drop out from that program (plus folks from the rest of the student body).

        If it helps to know, a lot of on-campus students take the online version of some courses for a variety of reasons.

    4. Mean Something*

      Almost all master’s degree programs are revenue-generating for universities. Some are outright cash cows and help make up deficits in other programs, while some just have to pay for themselves.

  5. Dan*


    We all have a right to our feelings, but I’d encourage you to rethink your position on this one. It’s really difficult for offenders released back into society to be accepted back into it and stay on the up and up. It’s hard because nobody wants to employ or work with a convicted criminal. But then those people reoffend because that’s the only way for them to survive.

    You’d be doing this person and society a huge favor by working with him.

    1. Umami*

      I agree with you, many previous offenders deserve a second chance. Many “learn their lesson” never to commit the crime again. People make mistakes. Yay Homeboy Industries and programs alike.
      I disagree when it comes to people in my own industry, but only because I know the ins and outs of it so well.

      I happen to work in the same industry as OP1 and deal with doctors who commit Medicare fraud, specifically with children. F that and f them! Most get a slap on the wrist so for him to actually go to prison…that must have been a real doozy. A “stupid” mistake that easily resulted in $$$ of dollars that went straight into this man’s pockets. I wouldn’t want to associate myself professionally with this clown either.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I agree with you that reformed offenders should be accepted back into society.

      However I think the comlplication in this case is the crime is connected to the guys employment. If the OP is preparing bills for him, how can they be sure they won’t end up an unwitting accomplice in Medicare fraud? (Although it would be pretty dumb to try it again I’m side his claims will be like at closely)

      Maybe some more information about the crime would help or there’s some middle ground that the OP could carry out the general office tasks but not the billing, if they’re willing to.

    3. Kiwi*

      Preferring not to pledge your Good Name to billing services for a convicted billing fraudster is entirely understandable.

      While it would be lovely for the OP to be willing to do their boss’ friend a favour, it’s quite sensible and reasonable to decide that the risk profile is too high and to decline. I certainly wouldn’t do a favour this large, involving such high professional risk, for someone I had never even met.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        This. So much.

        And there are many reasons a lot of businesses choose not to hire convicted criminals, one of which is insurance related. They don’t want to be held liable in the event the employee breaks the law again, and certain crimes like theft and fraud, would run afoul of their Commercial Crime policy conditions. In this doctor’s case, if he were to apply to a hospital that has Employee Theft/Dishonesty and Computer and Funds transfer fraud coverage, got hired, and then committed fraud again (or even just took supplies home), his employer’s claim would be denied if they knew about his conviction prior to hiring him. Some businesses cannot afford to absorb the cost of the theft and/or fraud, so they just don’t even go there, and I don’t blame them.

      2. Green*

        I really would not want to do his medical coding/billing at all, and if I was forced to I would ask for a pretty strong indemnification agreement from my actual employer. Nobody wants to be caught up in some big investigation (even if it doesn’t lead to a conviction) and we often see letter writers worried about exactly this kind of thing impacting their career after a big scandal involving their employer. And it’s a real concern; who wants someone doing their billing who has been wrapped up with a fraudster?

        I am all for retraining and hiring reformed offenders, but sometimes the answer is just that they need to rethink their careers, etc. They don’t inherently get to resume their lives in their old professions as though nothing had happened, particularly when they were in a profession of trust with high autonomy.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes — and especially when the profession itself was so intrinsic to the crime. I’m strongly in support of giving people a chance to rebuild their lives after prison, but there are lots of ways to do that; I wouldn’t hire someone who embezzled as a bookkeeper into a bookkeeping job, and this isn’t all that different.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Exactly. I really don’t understand this need to treat rehabilitation as a Magic Do-Over Ticket.

    4. Gaara*

      I’m not sure white collar criminals face the same stigma as other criminals. And working with this guy might not do the societal work that you think it would.

      1. steeped in anonymtea*

        Look him up on the OIG (Office of Inspector General) to see if he has been excluded from participating in the Medicare program. (Alison, you said Medicaid in your reply; Medicare is federal, Medicaid is primarily State- everyone mixes it up!). Usually the OIG will exclude you for a period of time or forever if you are convicted under the False Claims Act.

      2. Zillah*

        This. While I don’t disagree with the overarching point, I don’t think it’s fair to put society’s burdens on individuals, and I have a hard time seeing a clear line between “I had trouble reentering the medical profession after I was imprisoned for billing fraud” and “I reoffended because it was the only way I could survive.”

    5. Temperance*

      If she’s working alone with him, she might end up roped into any fraud etc. that he commits. In this case, I’d refuse, too.

  6. Dan*


    You’ve provided a LOT of background, much of which has little bearing on the question.

    When a company reaches out to you, it feels good, but it may not have that much bearing on your candidacy. This is very true if the person who found you is a recruiter that you have no prior experience working with. When your package hits the hiring managers desk, and comes with the subject “I found this guy on LinkedIn, he looks promising”, it really has no more bearing than one who applies off the street and is also an unknown quantity.

    Things that help are, “I worked with John at a previous employer. He’d be perfect. Should we reach out to him?”

    I’d also say that the dream job stuff has no bearing on the question. In fact, if the job is so awesome, and the boss says no to telecommuting, that you should find a way to be in the office as much as required. AAM has written stuff in the archives talking about the dangers of a “dream job.” Unless you have an inside track, that’s not an assessment you can make from the outside.

    I wrote the previous paragraph because I also work for a non profit in northern Virginia. We made Forbes recent list of “America’s Best Employers 2016.” IOW, I do have what many could describe as a dream job. Opportunities for great jobs only come around so often. If the job and org are really as good as you say, and they say no telecommuting, then I’d think long and hard about finding a workable solution that gets you in the office. Get a local apartment with a roommate or two if you have to and crash there during the week. For a great job, it’s worth some temporary sacrifice to make it happen. If you are unable or unwilling to do that, why does it matter that this is your dream job at your dream org? FWIW, if a job doesn’t allow any telecommuting or flex hours, it by my admittedly personal definition is not a dream job. For example, my org generally has traditional office hours but with a flex schedule. I work with a guy who has a sleep disorder; his official schedule is 3p-11p.

    Otherwise, yeah AAM is right, wait until the offer.

    1. JB (not in Houston)*

      “For family reasons, I would not be able to work full-time in northern Virginia.”

      I don’t think getting an apartment in VA is an option for the OP. Also, it’s not our website, so I don’t think we need to criticize the OP’s editing. Commenters sometimes criticize OPs for not including enough information. It’s hard to know what to put in and what to leave out.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes, thank you. It can really be a damned if you do/damned if you don’t situation for letter-writers — people will complain if they don’t provide enough detail or if they provide too much!

      2. Dan*

        My point, sorry if I buried it, was that if this is truly a “dream job” (usual disclaimers apply) that OP should really think outside the box about doing what she can to make the job happen. Short term pain can be worth long term gain.

        A potential option, depending on exact home/office locations, is to take the MARC and Metro and do reading/emails on it.

        The explicit question OP asked is, “when do I discuss telecommuting arrangements?” The implied question is, “What can I do to make my dream job happen?”

        1. Zillah*

          The explicit question OP asked is, “when do I discuss telecommuting arrangements?” The implied question is, “What can I do to make my dream job happen?”

          I think the implied question is actually “when do I discuss telecommuting arrangements?” It’s quite clear that the OP, like many people, has limits to what they can do, and telling them that they just need to try harder to find a way to make it work if they really want it is pretty disrespectful, IMO.

  7. bluesboy*

    #1 I’m not in the US and so not fully familiar with Medicare. Do you know exactly what the fraud entailed? I mean, could it have been something illegal, but not ethically black and white (changing details in documentation to help a sick child get access to treatment is not the same as straight out stealing).

    If I were you, I’d want to be clear on what they did and how ‘wrong’ it was before making this call.

    Generally I think once people have served their time they should be able to work, although of course it’s up to you whether you want to work with them. But are you sure that your feelings about this are 100% related to the fraud and nothing to do with not working from home anymore? I found it a little strange that you felt the need to specify that, when it really has nothing to do with the fundamental issue (working with someone who committed fraud). Why did you feel the need to point out your timetable change?

    Whatever you decide, I hope it works out!

    1. Meg Murry*

      Actually, I think the shift away from WFH on Friday is a concern for OP as well. OP, do you get caught up on a lot of paperwork on Fridays from home when you aren’t dealing with ringing phones and patients walking in the door? Or is that the time you use to dig into things that might require longer phone calls or just a concentrated block of concentration?

      In addition to the fraud concerns, I would be worried that going back to working in the office on Friday would mean you wouldn’t be able to get as much accomplished for your current doctor, meaning you would either have to work longer hours each day or do an occasional “catch up” day on the weekend – resulting in more hours (and hopefully therefore overtime pay) for you. I think this is important to bring up with your doctor to make sure you will be compensated for the extra work if it turns into more hours and how many more hours you would be willing to put in without it causing you to want to go look for a new job – some people are fine with a shift from 40 hours to 45-50 as long as they get paid overtime, while for others the additional pay isn’t worth the drain on their time and they look elsewhere.

    2. Jen*

      I’ve worked for companies that help put Medicare/caid fraudsters in jail. If the doc in question did actual jail time, it was a pretty massive fraud. There all kinds of schemes around things like billing for patients not seen, billing for services not provided, etc. some are so bad they are docs billing for work done out of long-shuttered practices! It’s insane.

      There are of course more grey-area cases…but typically when jail is involved it isn’t bending the rules to get a treatment covered for a needy patient–it’s extra government dollars in the pockets of docs who think they can game the system. For years.

      1. Manders*

        Yeah, I worked with some doctors who were not very savvy about billing but not dishonest, and that kind of jail time does *not* come from an honest mistake or even a genuine attempt to help a patient by fudging the rules.

        I think OP’s boss is thinking, “Billing confuses me too, I wouldn’t want to be punished for an honest mistake” because she either doesn’t understand what her mentor did or can’t believe someone she trusts could do something so scummy.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Or because doctors are incredibly defensive and delusional about other doctors behaving badly – and here we have one who has a personal relationship with the wrongdoer.

          1. Julia*

            So much this. Even if you were blatantly mistreated by your former doctor, your new one probably won’t agree with that or God beware help you prepare a statement etc.

      2. Bookworm*

        Thanks for talking more about this! I’m in the US, but know very little about medical billing, so I was also shrugging my shoulders at OP’s question.

    3. Artemesia*

      Going to jail for Medicare fraud is so rare that it does suggest something like billing for a lot of work undone or pushing unneeded procedures on elderly patients in order to generate income. Medicare is the health care for the elderly and doesn’t generally cover children or even most adults (some exceptions for the disabled). Of course it is possible that an unusual vindictive prosecutor targeted him (I recently read about someone who lost his job and was prosecuted for a football pool in an office with stakes of $200) but generally people have to be engaged in sustained and obvious fraud to be prosecuted for this sort of thing. It isn’t the occasional shaded coding in order to make someone eligible for a procedure but more something like faking bills for procedures not done or having everyone who comes through the door be subjected to X or Y expensive tests and procedures to generate income.

      I’d be nervous doing the billing paperwork for someone like this as well. The question for the OP is what procedures are in place to prevent this doctor from misusing the system; there needs to be someone authorizing every procedure and checking to make sure it is coded correctly and that should be the doctor who is taking this guy on.

    4. Zillah*

      I think the OP mentioned working in home in part to explain why the office was available that one day/week – though losing a WFH day is reason to be bothered all on its own, IMO.

    5. Temperance*

      Re #1: If he served time, he did something way, way worse than that. I would also argue that even your scenario would be very unethical for a doctor to engage in; if a child is ill and poor, he or she qualifies for free medical care from the state.

      1. Zillah*

        if a child is ill and poor, he or she qualifies for free medical care from the state.

        While that’s theoretically true, there are many, many children whose insurance doesn’t cover the health services that they need. It’s a massive oversimplification to imply otherwise.

        1. Artemesia*

          Yes this. In the US lots of people cannot get care they need because they can’t afford it. I have personally known people who were in this situation. You can get ER care if you are in crisis – but the care that would have prevented that crisis is not always available.

        2. neverjaunty*

          That is absolutely true. But it’s ridiculous speculation to suggest that maybe the reason this person went to jail is that they were the Robin Hood of medical care. Poor, ill children are more likely to be the VICTIMS of unnecessary medical treatment perpetrated in the name of billing fraud.

          1. Zillah*

            Oh, I’m not debating that point at all – I just wanted to point out that the premise of that particular line of reasoning (i.e., kids have access to health care) isn’t true. That doesn’t make the sick child scenario remotely likely.

    6. steeped in anonymtea*

      Changing details in documentation is falsifying a medical record and is unethical and many times illegal.

  8. Dan*


    Depending how your resume and cover letter are structured, you can leave your graduation dates off of your resume.

    I finished my full time graduate coursework, started a job out of state, and he finished up the thesis five years later and finally graduated while still working at said job. If I put down dates, then people would think I did my schooling online, which wasn’t true. But I also had work experience to focus on for a subsequent job hunt, because saying “I just graduated with my degree” is a dead give away with your graduation date.

    As to what an employer would think? With easy admission to a school with a party school reputation, your resume and cover letter need to demonstrate academic rigor. Aka show people you learned some good stuff. It’s not about where you went, it’s about what you did when you got there. At least most of the time.

    1. OP #4*

      Thanks for the comment.

      I also have to remind myself of how far I got with a theatre degree (it was hard to be taken seriously in the business world at first). You are right, this is what I make of it. Of course, being online I don’t get invited to the theatre kids parties anymore and I have to have my own :)

      So far I feel like I’m learning a lot and being supported through the process (except when I took Calculus I . . . was taught by the snottiest grad student who didn’t really believe in online education . . . was pretty clear he was just teaching the course online for some extra cash . . . happy to report I made a B in that course though).

    2. Green*

      I wouldn’t leave the date off. That’s going to make me raise my eyebrows more than just seeing the date.

      1. Laura W*

        Hm, you think? I’ve seen people leave dates off for a degree since it allows resume readers to make (often inaccurate) assumptions about the job-seeker’s age. I’m thinking back to resumes I’ve reviewed when hiring, and I’m not sure that would ping any warning signs for me at all, or even make me think twice.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, it’s become pretty standard to leave the date off if you’ve graduated more than ~10 years ago. (And it’s the typical advice for candidates trying to avoid age discrimination.)

          1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

            Interesting. I may leave mine off from now on. This would also allow me to cut some older jobs off my resume and put more detail into my more recent jobs.
            Just one question. Would it throw you off to be expecting a 40 year old and have a 60 year old person walk into the interview? What about 35 vs. 50 and so forth.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It could be initially a little surprising, but any decent hiring manager should get over that surprise really quickly and not let it bias them!

          2. Green*

            Interesting to me as well, but then again I am most likely to see (1) resumes from younger folks, and (2) in a field with roughly lock-step position titles based on years of experience after graduation.

  9. Ruth (UK)*

    4. I would say my own personal view has changed about online degrees in the last few years and I’m pretty young myself. If you asked me a few years ago – and I was a uni student myself if you go back about 5 years, I think I thought they were worth less than what I considered a ‘proper’ degree. But a few of my friends have done open uni degrees (open university is the main way people do online degrees here) in the last couple years, some of them as a second or further degree and I realised my initial assessment was wrong, esp as I looked at some of the courses to consider for myself..

    I think as more people do them and it becomes more common, more people have similar realisations to me. I mean, there are some courses or subjects etc you can choose to study that are still seen as easier, or worth less, but whether it’s online or not matters less than it used to.

    Ps. My current opinion is that it is potentially more difficult to do an online degree as it requires more self motivation and I imagine it can sometimes be isolating. If you study in person, you’re surrounded by other people studying the same thing. In many cases it also means people are juggling full time work / life alongside it. I have tried to do online language courses but finally gave up and am attending evening classes at my local uni instead and it makes such a difference. Languages is a bit different in some ways but I am still impressed by people who can study online courses effectively.

    1. Merry and Bright*

      I think we are lucky here in the UK because the Open University has been around for a few decades now and is well established and widely respected. Pre-internet it was still very much home study with text books, correspendence and special TV programmes. Also there are proper bricks and mortar locations you can visit. I remember my mum getting her degree that way when I was at school and how there were parts of the course that took you away from home to academic sites with other students.

      But I would be very wary about parting with cash for one of the random online courses that spring up in my spam folder.

      1. OP #4*

        Great to know that this distance programs aren’t really anything terribly new in the world! I think I’m finding the confidence I was looking for by asking my question to Alison!

        1. OP #4*

          Oh and yes, ASU is all accredited and such, so it’s not like any of the classes are scams. I’m able to interacts with the lecturers or professors.

          Back to Ruth (UK), I started on their Electrical Engineer course and realized that for me it’s not a degree to have taken online. Or at 30 years old. Maybe in another life I would have gone down that route, but I switched to IT which has been really wonderful so far. I’m learning a lot and enjoying it!

        2. Hellanon*

          I did my master’s degree with the Open University about 20 years ago (I’m American but was living/working in the EU at the time). It was work-related, excellent value for money, rigorous & has been a significant asset to my career, even though I find I have to explain what the OU is, precisely, to my US colleagues. I will say that quality can really vary & that courses have to be designed and taught specifically for the online environment, which the OU was good at; there’s a class-action case going on right now where George Washington University put a master’s degree up online where they *clearly* hadn’t done that, nor trained the faculty to teach in that modality.

        3. Cinderling*

          distance masters are becoming increasingly common, I’ve been looking at a few Welsh and Irish universities as I am doing an Open Uni Degree atm.

      2. One of the Sarahs*

        Co-signing that the Open University is a very specific thing – it’s fantastic, my mum got her degree this way over years, and it’s super-rigorous and has great physical-location programmes and student support. It was specifically set up to enable people to get degrees while working, at their own pace, and I especially love their ton of support for people who didn’t have good childhood education etc etc.

    2. Stachington*

      I agree with your post script. I initially took an all-online program for a non-profit school, but quickly switched to nights/weekends/online program because 1) the tuition was half the price and 2) the in-person classes were much less difficult for the reasons you listed. Some of the online classes were really tough!

  10. Nico m*

    #1. Will it reflect on you though?
    Im assuming that Doctor Monthur co. will be your official employer on Fridays, its just they are selling your services to Dr Friday. And if you unwittingly are involved on something dodgy Dr Friday does, Dr Monthur co. are on the hook as well.

    (However if they are insisting that you take a part time job with dr Friday – thats total bollocks.)

    1. Nico m*

      On 2nd thoughts the boss is a jerk.

      Losing a day at home and getting 20% more work sucks.

      And being philanthropic with other peoples time and money is a dick move.

  11. StudentPilot*

    #3 – a couple of years ago I changed my name (although, I changed my first name, not my last) and I just put “amazing thing I’ve done (as OldName LastName)”, on my resume. I don’t even reference it as former, I just put the old one on the resume. (It got stickier when I was offered a job, and had to bring in proof of my Bachelor’s Degree, then I also had to bring in my name change certificate.)

    The other thing you can do is put the old name in parentheses with your now name, i.e “Student (OldName) Pilot”

  12. Jess*

    LW1: Holy cow! He didn’t make a stupid mistake, he knowingly, on purpose, STOLE MONEY from Medicare! That was money that could have been used to help people and this thief stole it! The fact that your boss thinks it was only a mistake and not a serious crime and not a major moral and ethical transgression says some disturbing things about her too. Yikes. I wouldn’t want to work for him either, and if I were you I’d look for a new job.

    1. sunny-dee*

      I have no idea about the details of his crime, obviously, but Medicare considers it fraud if you enter the wrong billing code for a treatment. So, like, the difference between “66920, removal of lens, intrascapular” and “66930, removal of lens, intrascapular, dislocated lens” isn’t a typo or a mistake or even a difference of opinion. Medicare considers it fraud.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        People don’t really go to prison for that, though, do they? It seems like it would have to be more serious to warrant prison.

        1. Hellanon*

          Yeah, billing disagreements don’t rise to the level of prosecutions and prison sentences.

      2. JessaB*

        Yes, but Medicare is not going to send someone to jail for doing that once or even ten times in a thousand entries, they’re going to say pay back the difference and retrain your clerks. In order for them to actually prosecute for fraud they need a heck of a lot more than that. They don’t have the time nor the money to go after a few typos. And for someone to both get charged AND sent to jail (not put on probation, not put on a pay us back plan,) but sent to jail, means the fraud was deliberate or so pervasive that a typo wouldn’t explain it at all. There are no perfect people, someone is going to make a typo here and there. Medicare may technically consider it fraud, but they’re unlikely in the extreme, presuming they even caught the error, to prosecute someone for the glitch you mentioned. They’re saving that for people who are either so careless that they’re making a fortune over their errors (error rate so high that a normal person would have caught it with a simple audit,) or are deliberately fixing the bills.

        1. Jen*

          This, exactly. I’ve worked for the auditing contractors that Medicare hires, as well as Fraud technology firms. There are obvious patterns to fraud/abuse vs error or even poorly managed staff.

      3. Bolistoli*

        Medicare may consider typos fraud, but legally, the bar is much higher. At a minimum, for something to be considered fraud, there has to be intent. So, for this doctor to be convicted, the fraud was likely extensive and shown to be deliberate.

  13. Elizabeth*

    LW1: Check the Exclusion List at the CMS Office of the Inspector General for your employer’s friend. Most providers who actually serve time for fraud will be on permanent exclusion from participation in federal programs. The other component in this is that anyone who participates in federal programs is prohibited from doing business with them. If the friend is on the exclusion list and your employer does business with them, your employer is risking their own ability to participate in those programs. Most providers can’t survive without money from Medicare.

    If she still insists that you will work for him on Fridays, find a new job & report her to the OIG. As someone who works very hard to keep a healthcare provider compliant with all regulations, people who commit deliberate fraud (what it takes to serve time, rather than pay fines and show changes to processes to prove compliance) infuriate me. Those who enable fraud are just as culpable as the fraudsters themselves, and they need to be outed to the authorities.

    1. Laura W*

      Excellent advice, especially with regards to others in federal programs being prohibited from doing business with excluded providers.

  14. Cinderling*

    #5 I am studying with the Open University. I suppose it’s an online degree but anyhoo it’s fun. I’;ve never had a degree before. I needed no prior qualifications to get onto Level 1

    I will graduate with a BA Hon in English Language and Literature next year.

  15. Hush42*

    I got my AS in business online from a SUNY community college it’s a state school and I just put the name of the school on my resume and if anyone asked I told them that I did it online. No one seemed to care. I’m currently working on my BA in Business with a concentration in Accounting online from SUNY ESC which is another state school but is geared more toward adult learners. I’m getting this education full time while working full time. After I graduate with my BS I am planning on getting my MBA also online so I can continue working at my job. I am thinking about Liberty Online for my MBA. It helps though that my current long term goal is to stay at the company where I am and move up the ranks. I want to be the Controller and my boss is well aware of that.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d caution you against Liberty Online. It does not have a good reputation among many employers, and the degree could end up being a negative rather than a positive.

      1. Nonya*

        I keep hearing this about Liberty, but don’t understand why there is such a negative perception. What’s going on with that school?

          1. Anamou*

            Would you say the opinion you shared is for this school in particular, or about religiously-affiliated universities in general? I too have heard not-stellar things about this particular school, but not at all in relation to their online programs, rather more around their worldview and public statements/notable affiliates. As someone recently accepted to an MBA program at a (different) religiously-affiliated university, I’d genuinely appreciate hearing your take on that.

            1. Green*

              Allison’s view is definitely a prevailing view that is NOT applicable to all religiously-affiliated universities. (Duke is a Methodist school, Wake Forest is Baptist, Georgetown is Jesuit, etc.) Liberty is known for going above-and-beyond on the religious vs. academic inquiry side, and, oh, it was founded by Jerry Falwell.

            2. Kat M*

              No, it’s this particular school, and a handful of others. There are great Catholic schools, Methodist schools, Baptist schools, Quaker schools, etc. Nobody’s going to look askance at your degree from Baylor or Brigham Young. But while most have a particular religious culture and may require additional coursework in religion or theology, they’re still teaching the same basics. Physics is physics, literature is literature. That’s not the case at places like Liberty.

              1. Big10Professor*

                A good way to tell is to look at faculty diversity. A school like Duke or Wake Forest wants the best faculty they can get. A school like Liberty only hires Evangelical Christians. You can see on their website they claim an exemption from the “religion” part of the EEOC. You should be suspicious of a school that wants all of its instructors to share the same worldview.

                1. Salyan*

                  In which case, we should be suspicious of all secular universities. Anyone who doesn’t hold with their particular brand of politics/science/religious view is persona non grata.

            3. Temperance*

              I’m an ex-evangelical. Liberty, along with Oral Roberts and a few others, are known for their anti-intellectualism and are not really credible. These are schools where you send your children if you want to ensure that they have no capability to think critically, but will parrot your views.

          2. Salyan*

            I’m not familiar with Liberty’s academics, but have to dispute the idea that religious teaching negates critical thinking. In this society, it takes a lot more critical review to assess the scientific facts for creation than it does to simply accept the cultural party line. Besides, such views are dangerous. If an employer were to view religious beliefs as being inherently illogical, that would create a risk of discriminating against religious employees.

    2. Turanga Leela*

      I’m echoing Alison—don’t do Liberty, unless you’re planning to work only for conservative Christian organizations. US News ranks online MBA programs, and while I’m generally skeptical of their lists, it’s not a bad starting place to look for reputable programs. SUNY Oswego’s online program is on the list, and that might be a good thought for you, since it sounds like you’re in-state.

      Separately, how are you liking SUNY ESC? I’ve heard good things.

  16. Gaara*

    OP1, can you offer to help in some ways, but not in others? Like, you will act as the receptionist, but not submit claims for him? I would want no part of processing or submitting claims for this guy. If he’s going to engage in Medicare fraud in a way in which you could be implicated, that’s likely to be it.

  17. Cynical Lackey*

    #1 There are different degrees of crime, and the court made a determination that the doctor would be incarcerated for 18 months and then placed on probation. HE WAS NOT GIVEN A LIFE SENTENCE OR A LIFETIME BAN FROM HIS PROFESSION.

    Who do you think you are imposing an additional sentence above and beyond what the court determined was reasonable?

    1. Gaara*

      Yeah, but it could impact the OP’s reputation or even place them under legal scrutiny. The doctor may have served his time, but why should the OP work with him? That’s like saying they should have to work with Bernie Madoff in the provision of financial services, if Madoff were to become eligible to trade again.

    2. Rubyrose*

      By refusing to work with him, OP is not banning the doc from his profession. Granted, if many people refuse to work with the doc, his ability to practice becomes harder. But he can practice; he just need to do his own claims filing and paperwork. He opened himself to this by his previous actions.

      Excellent chance he is on the CMS list of excluded physicians. So he just cannot provide service to Medicare and Medicaid patients. He can go get patients who are private or commercial insurance paid. He can give them the billing information on the standard claims forms used by all payers and the patient can file the claims themselves. Many patients may not want to do this and decide not to see him. So finding these patients may be very hard. Again, he opened himself up to this. But he can practice.

      1. Rubyrose*

        He can also try to get hired on by a large HMO, where he is an employee rather than running his own practice. Others would be really scrutinizing his prescribing practices and he would be limited in who he could refer to. But in fairness, those organizations probably would not take him on, unless they can somehow make sure he would never see Medicaid/Medicare patients and the spot is extremely hard to fill, such as a rural area .

        Perhaps he could become a consultant to lawyers? Would not want to put him on the stand to testify, since the opposing lawyer would bring up his past.

        Yes, I’m not sympathetic to him. But until his license is yanked, he is not banned.

        1. Rubyrose*

          (Sorry for the rant, but the ideas just keep coming).

          If he is young enough, he can join the military? Or work for the VA? His was a federal offense, but they should be willing to give him a second chance, since I’m sure they rehabilitated him in prison (on really thin ground here, I’m sure). And their funding source is not Medicare/Medicaid.

          He can use his degree to teach. My anatomy/physiology professor in college was a dentist. She also taught students at the medical school.

          He might be able to move to a foreign country and practice. Doctors Without Borders probably does not bill the US government. But he would have to do some research first, to make sure another country would accept his academic credentials. I’m thinking here of the stories you hear about foreign trained doctors who come to the US as refugees who cannot practice.

          This guy has options. It just may not be as easy as he wants and he may not have the same standard of living he is accustomed to.

          1. Temperance*

            He likely can’t work for the VA or join the military as a doc, because he perpetuated a fraud against the government.

          2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

            Way back in the 60s-70s, quite often the military was viewed as a rehabilitation option for young criminals. “Go in the service, or go to jail”… very common.

            However, Uncle Sam no longer wants misfits in his volunteer forces. The military establishment membership is restricted to persons of good character, and felons are, for the most part, not allowed in.

    3. Temperance*

      He is free to do whatever he wants. No one is obligated to work with him. He can’t force someone to help him rehabilitate.

    4. neverjaunty*

      Who do you think YOU are, demanding that the OP work for someone she does not respect or trust?

  18. Laura*

    I actually work in ASU admissions. The online program is very similar to an on-campus experience, and is a legitimate ASU degree. We don’t differentiate anything for the students– online students are just as valid and important as on-campus students! If anyone has questions about the ASU program, I’d be happy to answer them.

  19. specialist*

    Letter 1: (disclosure–I am a physician)
    The physician in question spent 3 months in prison, not 18 months. The letter-writer has been working for the current employer for 18 months.

    It is likely that the two physician businesses would be separate and that the previously incarcerated physician would be operating his own practice but using the other physician’s office like a time share. This is actually pretty common. This is what I would recommend for the other physician, as a solo practitioner hiring this guy would be problematic. There are many ways to get time share offices and many hospitals will offer these suites where you rent a few days a week or less. There are regulations about what you have to have in a medical office, so he can’t just go anywhere. I would recommend that he not be utilizing the other physician’s electronic health record. He can utilize any of a number of cloud based records or stay with paper. There can be issues with medicare/medicaid if you are giving something of value (office space) with the expectation of referrals that would have otherwise gone elsewhere.

    The letter writer didn’t disclose their credentials. The only reason I could see for this to be a problem would be if the letter writer was a certified coder/billing specialist. Answering phones for the guy shouldn’t be a problem ethically. Billing for him is really the only thing that could be a potential problem. I could see suggesting that the formerly incarcerated physician hire a professional billing service, which is what I would recommend to the physician as a better way to stay above board. Not doing the billing is also a great way to limit involvement.

    This guy did 3 months of time. He is allowed to rebuild his life. He is already pretty restricted on what he can do for practice. He likely wouldn’t be a candidate for locums positions right now, either. A one day a week practice should help him to get back on his feet. Aside from that, it is not the letter-writer’s choice to accept this guy or not. It is the boss’s decision. The state medical board will be aware of what is going on and will be putting some conditions on his practice if they feel this is necessary.

    If the letter-writer feels that the disgust welling up inside them would prevent them from doing a decent job for the new physician, then disclose this with the boss. But do it with the understanding that the conditions of the job may require it and this decision could mean finding a new job.

    1. Green*

      We know from the letter above that she handles claims and billing, as well as other office admin work. So this isn’t now about what would be a good opportunity for the physician but whether it creates potential reputational and legal risk for the employee. So I don’t think it’s fair to characterize it as simple “disgust” but rather anxiety about whether it could be problematic for her.

      I think the advice here was that LW should definitely open up a conversation with their boss since it sounds as though she was asked and readily agreed when she was caught off guard. And that the boss may force this arrangement on her anyway.

  20. Hiring Mgr*

    She probably offered your services because she doesn’t trust him alone in the office!

  21. Anamou*

    It’s been my experience that online degrees are becoming more and more common and accepted. I have several colleagues and friends (more than 10) who have completed graduate programs online through non-profit accredited universities, and all have advanced their careers as a result.

    I too worried about this as I am enrolled in an MBA program online, and this was a question I asked myself as I was choosing which schools to consider. For example, my brother is a PhD candidate at UNC, and mentioned to me as I was choosing schools that their online MBA program is nationally top-ranked, and has a price tag of over 100k. I definitely think employers take that every bit as seriously as an on-campus program. I realize that doesn’t mean employers will take every online program seriously, but if the online part is the variable you’re most concerned about, I would feel confident it’s a solid choice, as long as you’re considering the other important variables, such as accreditation and non-profit status.

    1. Green*

      Online MBAs are generally not regarded as similar to brick and mortar MBAs. If you’re going to do an online MBA, at least it’s attached to a respected brick and mortar. But unless you already have quite a bit of business experience you’ll potentially be at a disadvantage with respect to employers, networking, on-campus opportunities and collaboration/presentations. Also, a lot of Kenan Flagler brick-and-mortar students are really annoyed by the online MBA and its widespread “the only online program you probably can’t get into” advertising all over Facebook.

      1. Bookworm*

        Yes. MBAs (even at prestigious schools) are generally not considered very academically rigorous relative to other secondary degrees, but there is a large emphasis on social activities like networking, negotiating and public speaking.

        It’s going to be a lot more difficult to learn and practice that stuff online.

  22. Kat M*

    Alison, wanted to let you know that an ad/video called “Rachel Green Juice Recipe” started autoplaying with sound on your site today (4/17).

  23. Ruth*

    As a former government employee working on the issue, I am intimately familiar with the for-profit college industry and the issues really don’t inherently stem from online education delivery. The problems are what gets sacrificed when education is privatized like high tuition costs, life changing debt, and terrible student outcomes.

    I would not consider a for-profit college acceptable education history for a job applicant, but wouldn’t hesitate to consider a student who used distance learning.

  24. pomme de terre*

    I think Allison’s advice to the would-be telecommuter is fine (let it ride until the offer stage) but sweet fancy Moses, the Baltimore to NoVa drive is NO JOKE even outside of rush hour. The stress and unpredictability of that commute in a new job would be considerable, and if there is childcare in the mix that makes it even more complicated. And consider that the Metro will be shutting down a few lines for repair in the near future, which will inevitably drive more people onto the roads.

    95 traffic will destroy your career and your family and your will to live. If you get an offer, agree to very minimal time at HQ or say you’ll be in the office X days per week for the first six months or so to get oriented and then you will revert to X/2 and stick to it. Or have a serious conversation with your partner about shifting more household duties, or consider moving closer to the new job if it truly is a dream.

    So many people in this area talk themselves into terrible commutes and it’s tough to find something that’s really worth the trouble.

      1. pomme de terre*

        I think the “flexible schedule” she was considering would include at least some time at the HQ in NoVa. And IMO, even a few days in DC in non-rush hour traffic is a dicey proposition in terms of getting from Point A to Point B on time on a consistent basis. But perhaps flexible schedule means something else?

  25. AMT 2*

    I appreciate all of the comments regarding online degrees – I am currently working on an online degree in accounting at American Public University, and am curious what type of reactions this will get with future employers. I can only do an online program (work full time, single parent, brick and mortar classes are out of the question). APU is a for-profit school but very very reasonably priced; when looking for a program there were not many online programs for a bachelors in accounting that I could find – APU seemed the best option, ASU didn’t offer what I needed, the only other options I could find were schools like Phoenix and Indiana Wesleyan. I’d be interested in finding other schools that offer online degrees for accounting if anyone knows of any. For my purposes right now APU will suffice (I am happy in my current job but my manager made it clear that a promotion wouldn’t happen without a degree; he is fine with me not having one but others in the org are not – so for me it is simply means to an end right now, but I would like to know what to expect down the road with different employers)

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      Fellow accountant here….in terms of online degrees in accounting it really depends on what you want to do with it. It sounds like you are planning to remain at your current employer and they just need to “check the box” saying you have a degree to promote you. If my understanding of the situation is correct, then you should be fine to get the online degree. I’d also play to stay at your current employer for at least an additional 3-5 years after you graduate and make an attempt to continue advancing in your career in terms of increased responsibility during that time. At some point in your career, the degree just becomes an item on a checklist and your experience and references matter far more.

      I will say that an online accounting degree likely won’t get your foot in the door at any of the Big 4 firms or even most mid-size firms. Govt (where I am) doesn’t seem to care. One of the people that was hired with me went to the University of Phoenix. If you decide to go the public accounting route, I’d stick with a smaller firm where I suspect your chances of being hired would be best. As far as industry, I don’t know anyone with an online accounting degree who has gone that route. Maybe some other commenters do know accountants in industry.

      Best of luck with your degree and future accounting career!

      1. AMT 2*

        Thanks! I’ve been in accounting for about 10 years and it was never necessary for the type of work I prefer to do – I’m not looking to become a CFO or anything! I worked for a CPA firm for 3 years, did several years in a larger company as backup to all accounting roles to had a lot of variety of exposure there, bookkeeping at a small company, and now do accounting in an investment firm – based on my experience I’ve never had any trouble getting the jobs I wanted. Which is fantastic, but still, if I’m going to get that degree I’d like it to be useful other places. I plan to stay with my current firm for at least 2 years after I graduate (or I have to repay the tuition reimbursement), and probably longer. They have some great benefits and stability so unless I get super restless I have no plans to leave right now. But I’d still like to know what to expect just in case..

        1. Former Retail Manager*

          It sounds like your degree likely won’t come into play, in a negative way, given the amount of time that you have been in the field. It sounds like your resume shows a good amount of experience in progressively responsible positions which is going to be the primary focus of most hiring managers (unless you are aiming for Big 4….which I wouldn’t advise anyway, but that’s a convo for a different day) I wouldn’t even mention that the program is online unless it came up organically in an interview or the interviewer specifically asked. It’s not uncommon in accounting for people to start in A/R or payroll, realize they like the work, and get their degree many years later while working throughout that time. All in all, it sounds like you have enough years of work experience to far outweigh any potential negative association related to where your degree came from.

          My only disclaimer is that this advice would be very different if you were 22 years old getting ready to graduate with only an online accounting degree and no practical experience. Obviously not your case and I think you’ll be fine regardless of which path you choose in future years (small firm, industry, financial services, etc.)

          1. AMT 2*

            That’s what I had been thinking (hoping), thanks for the reassurance! I figured the degree certainly wouldn’t hurt, but wasn’t sure if it would actually help much. However, given the types of roles/companies I would be looking at it will probably be fine – I would just hate to feel like I wasted years and money on something that most people would feel is worthless. I had been toying with pursuing a masters once I finish my program, but then my company decided to change the reimbursement rules so they will only reimburse for public, non-profit schools in the state – effectively making it not optional for me to pursue further education if I want them to pay for it (luckily I was ‘grandfathered’ in for my current program). Thanks for your input!!!

            1. Observer*

              What state are you in? If you are in New York, Empire is part of the SUNY system (and accredited). I don’t know if they do a masters in accounting, but they do seem to do BA / BS in accounting. And, you can cross register in other SUNY schools if you need a class that Empire doesn’t have. That’s not as useful as it sounds if you really need to be on line, but a surprising number of SUNY schools have at least some classes that you can take on line.

              I don’t know as much about them, But Thomas Edison State University also is apparently a non-profit, accredited state school. It might be worth looking into either of them if you are in the right place.

                1. AMT 2*

                  Thanks for the additional info! I’ll check those schools out. I’m in Ohio – our new company rules want us to utilize local schools – we’re a family office that supports a few non-profits and has strong ties to local colleges, which is great – except that they are all quite pricy and none offer an online program! I haven’t really pushed back on these new rules yet since they don’t directly affect me, since I was already approved for my school before the changes I can continue there. But if I decide to pursue a masters I absolutely will be pushing back on at least the ‘in state’ portion of the new mandate..

  26. Former Retail Manager*

    OP#1…I’m a little late to the party…not sure if you’re still reading comments. If you decide that you do not wish to work for the convicted physician I think the best bet would be suggesting to your boss that she suggest he utilize a third party billing service. While this may be slightly more expensive for him since he won’t be able to share the cost of the billing with your boss in the manner that he likely would be doing if you worked for him, it will obviously remove you from the equation and place responsibility for any future wrongdoing solely on him. In the event that your boss/the new physician refuse and you are forced to bill for this person….read on….

    That being said, as the physician mentioned above, this individual will be under a great deal of scrutiny by an assortment of regulatory agencies and it’s highly unlikely that he would choose to reoffend as any future re-offense will likely result in permanent revocation of his license to practice medicine. If anything, I think that he will be overly cautious in his billing practices, as he should be. Should you have to bill for him, I’d advise keeping a good paper trail, such as e-mails, in the event that you see anything that you consider questionable in terms of billing. I realize there may be HIPAA implications to such e-mails (and I’m not versed in that at all) but if it were me. HIPAA be damned, I’d maintain a paper trail of some sort should the physician revert to his old ways.

    Best of luck in your decision. Hopefully all parties can agree to using a third party biller.

  27. Searching*

    Re: online degrees.
    If you are going to a school with a recognized name that is not a for-profit school, you’re probably ok. Particularly in information technology where going online could even be a plus. Generally, the key to evaluating any professional masters program are employment statistics and school accreditation- the fact that you even could think of transferring to another program is a good sign. For-profit schools are currently in trouble for having abysmal employment statistics or for falsifying them.
    Why did you choose your current program in the first place? Especially if you chose it because of money and/or flexibility of schedule and the employment metrics/ quality of the program are about the same, it probably makes sense to stay the course. Is “reputation” much more important than the other factors? Distance and online grad degrees are becoming much more common, especially for people who want to go part time while still working. The one thing you may miss out on is networking opportunities from a brick and mortar school, but you can take steps to do that in other ways.
    It may be obvious that you went online if you aren’t in the same state, but generally I don’t think that employers judge personal decisions on what grad school you go to in that way. If asked you can just say you concluded that it was the best program that fit your needs and was also most cost effective/ fit into your schedule.

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