co-founder is an out-of-control jerk, interviewer told me that she’s hard to work for, and more

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

1. Co-founder is out of control and a jerk

Our company was co-founded by a woman, her husband, and her father. The husband has historically been a general pain, but has always had good ideas to contribute (albeit rarely). We’re getting to the point where he is a total drain on the company’s resources and time, and is also rude and disrespectful to employees, which is not good for the culture. He barges into meetings regardless of the topic, completely redirects and derails large projects, and pulls people into projects that take up a majority of their time regardless of what their workload or job responsibilities are.

Our executive team (including his wife and father-in-law) is trying to find a way to get rid of him or reduce his impact without actually firing him (since that means they would have to buy him out of his shares of the company), but they and we are not having much luck thinking of how we can make that happen. There’s basically no way for anyone at the company to say no to his requests without getting berated for it. He’s known for lecturing people about how he founded the company and his “vision” when, in reality, his wife is running the show. Is there anything we can do to effectively take away his power (given that we do have the full support of the executive team)?

Well, the executive team could explicitly empower you to say no to his requests and to shut him down when he berates you (as in “I’m not willing to be talked to that way, so I’m leaving the room now”) without any negative repercussions for you, but they’d need to be 100% committed to backing you up. And people would need to believe them about that, or not everyone will do it. To help people believe they’ll be backed up, you’d probably need the wife or father-in-law to do it on people’s behalf first — meaning they’d need to find opportunities to witness him berating someone and say something like, “We can’t allow you to talk to Jane that way. Jane, please feel free to ignore this request from Fergus. Fergus, you need to leave Jane’s office now.” If they do that a few times, people may start believing that they can do it themselves.

But really, that’s a workaround. The real solution is for them to formally remove the husband’s authority over other employees (they can do that without firing him or buying him out), to announce to everyone that that’s happened and that people are not to accept assignments from him, and to be vigilant about stepping in if he continues to act as if he does have authority.

2. Interviewer told me that she’s hard to work for because her expectations are too high

I recently had an in-person interview at a large tech company. I went through an HR phone interview where I was warned the boss may be hard to work for. I then went to the in-person interview with said manager. She said in the interview that at the last two places she has worked, she has been told she is “difficult to work for.” She almost seemed proud of it and seemed to want to know that I was okay with it. I asked why she was difficult to work for, and she said her “expectations are too high.”

This is a huge red flag to me. Any thoughts here? I really need a job after being out of work for a while, but I’m worried I will be walking into a very bad situation if I am offered this job.

Yes, red flag. High expectations are good. I have high expectations. I’m sure some people think my expectations are too high, and I’m okay with that (and I disagree). But it’s the way she’s presenting this that’s the issue — that she’s proud of being told she’s hard to work for and she’s calling her own expectations “too high” rather than “high.” Plus, is she doing anything in her interviewing process to ensure that she’s only hiring people who have similarly high expectations, or is she just fine with hiring someone who she’ll then … what, constantly criticize?

Pair all that with HR’s comment about her, and I’d be pretty damn wary.

That doesn’t mean you can’t take the job if you’re in a desperate situation. You may not have other options. But if that’s the case, go in with your eyes open so that you’re not lulled into thinking she’s going to be a decent manager.

3. My sister was blacklisted from her former company over something she didn’t do

My sister used to work at one of the largest and well-known phone companies here in the UK. She was an assistant manager of a medium-sized store. She had always received glowing reviews and praise for her work. She even won an all-expenses paid ski-trip to France from the company because she placed in their Top 50 employees for sales that year in the entire company (out of tens of thousands of employees). She left her job six months ago to travel internationally. She left on great terms with her manager (who I’ll call Tyrion), her area manager, and colleagues, and two of them (including Tyrion) asked her to contact them when she returned from travelling as they said they would like to work with her again. Shortly before her last day, Tyrion moved to one of the largest stores in the company.

She returned home from her travels last week and went for coffee with her ex-colleague (Jon) to catch up. Jon told my sister that while she was away, Tyrion had suddenly been moved to a very small store in a small town after an investigation. Tyrion had been investigated for security breaches when filling out customer applications for phone contracts while employed at the store he and my sister worked at together. Jon then told my sister that Tyrion had blamed the entire situation on my sister (who was conveniently 9,000 miles away in another time zone) and as a result, my sister is now on a “Do Not Re-Employ” list and Tyrion has been allowed to keep a job (albeit a demotion) for “whistleblowing” on the “guilty” employee. To complicate matters, Jon should not know this information but was told by the new manager of my sister’s old store, and felt he owed it to my sister to tell her.

What she and I don’t understand is, how can this company conclude an investigation and put her on a blacklist without ever contacting her or interviewing her about it? Can she contact HR and ask for her file? Can she request an interview about the investigation even though she’s now an ex-employee? Regardless of whether she wanted her job back (she very much did), they have now damaged what would and should be an excellent reference, which will seriously impact her ability to find another job. Can she at least request that, as she was never interviewed or investigated personally, she is given a neutral reference? Is there anything she can do?

I can’t speak to UK law at all, so I’m giving you a U.S. perspective here. In the U.S., the employer wouldn’t be legally required to speak to a former employee as part of this kind of investigation. She could possibly request a copy of her employee file, depending on the state (some states require employers to share them upon request, and others don’t). She would, however, have recourse if the company was giving out false information about her as part of a reference; that’s defamation, and she could approach it on those grounds. But the first thing I’d advise her to do is to just get in touch with the company, explain that she heard this is happening and that the info about her is categorically false, and ask what she needs to do to have her record cleared, and particularly to make sure she’s not being defamed to former colleagues or reference checkers. If they stonewall her, I’d consider getting a lawyer to contact them.

UK law might give her additional options, though, so I’d check that first.

4. How long should you stay in an entry-level position?

I would like to know what your opinion is on how long someone should stay at an entry-level position? Seven and a half months ago, I started working at a radio station as an on-air news anchor, and announcer. I love the job, but it’s typical entry-level for the industry (part-time, work weekends, operating the board for remote broadcasts, fill in when the full-timers are sick/on vacation). I feel like I’m ready for the next step up. I get glowing reviews, and feel comfortable with the work I do. There’s no chance of promotion in the near future with my station, or its parent company. Do you think it’s too soon, or in poor taste for someone in my shoes to apply for higher positions?

This varies by industry, but in general you’d expect to stay in an entry-level job for one to two years. Seven months is generally much too early to be looking to move on.

That said, go ahead and send some applications out and see what happens. If your industry is okay with that timeframe, you’ll know because you’ll get interviews. If it’s not, you won’t.  Just make sure you’re ready to stay at the next place for at least several years.

5. Telling patients that we won’t see tourists

I work in a pediatrician’s office which happens to be in a resort area. The pediatrician’s office policy is that we will not see vacationers as patients but will refer them to an urgent care facility. How can I tactfully tell our visitors this without sounding harsh?

It sounds like your doctor doesn’t want one-offs and prefer patients who will build a relationship with the practice, which isn’t unreasonable, especially given a limited number of appointment slots. I’d say it this way: “I’m so sorry — our doctor doesn’t see short-term patients, but I can give you information for a nearby urgent care facility.”

{ 191 comments… read them below }

  1. Dan*


    I hope the pay is commensurate with her expectations… too high, you know?

    I once had an interview with a guy who was a complete dick. I wasn’t sure where he was in the pecking order, but he looks at me and says, “I work 60 hour work weeks, and want to know if you are fine with that.” I told him that I most certainly was — I worked 60 hours a week at my last professional job, more weeks than not. I also let him know that job paid by the hour, so we were appropriately compensated for the effort we put in.

    “Oh, we’re straight salary here.”

    What I didn’t say, but was very much thinking, “well then my straight salary demands just went up about $20k.”

    1. Ex Resume Reviewer*

      “well then my straight salary demands just went up about $20k.”

      Hear, hear. My OT will work out to about $12,500 a year on top of my normal pay, if the last few months are any indication. My group would riot if they made us salaried, though I think most of us don’t quite hit the new salary threshold so we’re probably okay.*

      *Unless they decide it’s worth the simplification of not dealing with straight time, PTO, OT, on-call pay, holiday on-call pay, etc. etc.

        1. Audiophile*

          I might want that job. I’ve never seen heard of a base salary that high being offered OT.

          1. really*

            My son works for a company that only has the highest level employees on salary. It is very unique as these are ositions requiring professional licensing. These jobs would be salaried at any other company. He’s paid hourly with OT at time and a half. My husband has the same degree and licensing as my son and did work for one company early on who paid straight time for OT which was unusual even then (80s)

    2. jasmine*

      “I work 60 hour work weeks, and want to know if you are fine with that.”

      To which my reply would have been: “Sure, I’m fine with you working 60 hour weeks, but if you want me to work 60 hour weeks, I’ll look for a job somewhere else.”

      1. Amadeo*

        Reminds me of a grumpy old fellow at a sign shop where I interviewed a couple of years ago. He said the shop was implementing shifts from 3-11pm and would I be comfortable working those and then goes “‘No’ is the wrong answer.”

        This was after I applied a piece of scrap vinyl to a piece of scrap material and he stared me in the eye and whipped out his tape measure and meticulously measured to see if I’d got it centered – on an irregular piece of material. Even if they had been able to meet what I needed salary wise I was going to turn it down after that.

        1. Sign shop employee*

          If he was really as good at signs as he was implying, he should have been able to tell if it was centered just from eyeballing it.

          signed, a sign shop employee for 10 years who notices when things are 1/16″ out (it’s a curse)

          1. Amadeo*

            I was pretty darn close to center without measuring, off by less than half an inch. I could’ve done the job just fine, but would have had trouble dealing with the boss!

    3. A Bug!*

      Well, since he’s not willing to compete on wages, seems like it might be smart to filter out the applicants who have viable job prospects with other employers. Such a shrewd businessman!

  2. GingerHR*

    No3 – From the UK here. Alison’s right, there’s no obligation for the company to have included your sister in the investigation. She shoudl absolutely do what Alison says regarding references (and if the right person picks up her request, they may even deal with things further as Tyrion hardly sounds a model employee). To be honest, as they’re a big company, references are probably done by an HR admin processing centre and say ‘We give factual information only. Brienne worked here from March 2015 to January 2016. This information is true to the best of our knowledge’. It’s normal, if annoying – and driven by fear of being sued, but may be useful for her here. She could also use the other colleague who asked her to get in touch (although again, if they’re big, all references are probably sent directly to an admin centre’. If she needs to, she can make a Subject Access Request to see the information they have on her: this needs to be specific, not just ‘anything you’ve got on me’, and as she’d left, it’s like to be on his file not hers. There’s a lot of detail around what’s covered, what ashe can see – the Data Commissioner’s website has detail. Honestly though – I’d want to know if a manager had escaped dismissal for fraud /security problems based on lies, and I wouldn’t want to blacklist the wrong person.

    1. Rebecca Anne*

      This happens all too often in the UK. Because she was no longer a member of staff, they probably didn’t even think to contact her. There’s definitely no obligation on the behalf of the company to contact anyone as part of their investigation. If this had resulted in her termination, that would be a different matter and she’d have recourse then to appeal her termination based on an incomplete investigation.

      And yes, Ginger is right. Most big companies are only providing basic information (Employment Date From, Date To, Role(s) held). That has come back to bite me on the behind several times. So many companies are doing this that it’s hard to get an actual reference when it’s required because of fear of litigation. And if someone does offer to give a reference, it usually ends up being a personal one because the company rules don’t allow you to give professional references as an agent of that company.

      I do still think it’s worth her while contacting them, especially if she would like to work there again. If she’s got solid links with the Area Manager, it might be a good place to start. I imagine that her former manager is going to be under a microscope but that’s no help to her.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        But in the UK, can they/do they provide whether or not she’s eligible for rehire? (they do in the US) Blecause I think that’s Op’s primary concern. If someone says No, that does not look good, obviously.

        1. GingerHR*

          Yes, they can say ‘wouldn’t rehire’ although large companies won’t. We had a big case in the last few years with a construction blacklist (people put on no-hire lists across a whole industry for things like union activity) which has made people warier – not always correctly.
          It shouldn’t usually bite you (in the UK) to get a fact only reference – most hiring organisations are used to it. Sure, we all ask for more as we might get lucky, but we know we’ll mostly only get what we’d give. And no, it’s not right, good employees deserve more, but we have a much tighter employment environment and managers and companies get scared. Some companies are actually thinking about (or actually) doing away with references and focusing on better hiring and probationary practices.

  3. Parcae*

    For #4: Alison is right that 7 months is not long enough to justify a promotion, even in an entry level job. The thing I noticed, though, is that the letter writer is working part-time. Absent a promise to the contrary, I think it’s always okay for part time workers to look to move to full-time positions. You just can’t really expect to move up in terms of responsibility after 7 months.

    Caveat: I don’t know the industry at all.

    1. Spooky*

      Disagree. It really, really depends on industry. In my last job, it was normal to be promoted up from entry level at the 8 month mark. Most kinds of media jobs move you up through the early ranks faster (which is good, because frequently those jobs pay barely a living wage.)

    2. Anon Moose*

      I agree that part time is very different from “entry level.” They may be willing to move OP from part time to full time in the entry level job before 1 year if they are a good employee and there’s hours available. Otherwise, OP can look for a full time entry-level similar position and I don’t think anyone would have too much of an issue with it. I feel like part time people should almost always be assumed to be looking for full time work. Basically, OP could increase their hours but not get out of entry level yet.

      1. Mabel*

        Also, if the OP is working part-time, then they haven’t actually worked seven (full time) months. So their experience is even less than it might seem. Just getting picky about the math; not saying they shouldn’t try to get a full time and/or step-up-from-entry-level position.

    3. Bob*

      I’m in IT and it’s possible to move up very quickly under the right circumstances depending on talent level. But I think 1.5 to 2 years is often right for most people. I cringe when I see talented people who have been on the helpdesk or a junior admin/dev for 5+ years because their companies simply never promote anyone. I think if you feel like you have mastered your current job and there is no clear path to move up, you should at least be looking. Staying too long in your first job can have a huge negative effect on your career.

  4. Radio employee*

    #4 – After 7 months as a part-timer in what you do at the radio station, it’s certainly long enough for you to start looking for a full-time job. The caveat, as you may know, is that not only might you have to move markets, but have to move to a smaller market, which usually means less pay. (Although the possibility of lower COI is greater)

    When you say there’s no growth opportunities in your parent company, do you mean just in your market? You may have to see if there’s other opportunities at other radio groups the parent company owns. That would hopefully make the job transition easier.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      If you’re part time, there’s no reason not to apply to any full time position you feel qualified for. But, I don’t know of any hiring manager is going to view someone with only 7 months of part time experience as qualified for more than an entry level job.

  5. Bookworm*

    It’s doubtful that any company wants to a) unknowingly lie about an employee and damage their career or b) keep employing an employee under the false pretense that he’s a whistleblower, when really he’s being deceitful.

    So this definitely information that the company would want to know.

    Also, with the way gossip goes around, who knows? She might speak to HR and discover that Jon misheard or misrepresented the information.

  6. Edith*

    #5: While it is common for doctors to have closed panels (to not accept new patients), this doctor’s policy is very silly. How do you know if a perspective new patient is a townie or not? Do you ask them at the beginning, or do you only reject them after they’ve filled out all the new patient paperwork and you’ve seen their mailing address? And how much of the year do they have to spend in town before the doctor will see them? I imagine three months isn’t long enough because people who summer in town count as vacationers. What if the potential patient’s non-custodial parent lives in town, but the child only comes to visit? Does the doctor have a specific territory within which a person is considered a local, but one block further constitutes a vacationer?

    The doctor should just close her panel and make exceptions for people she thinks live close enough to her clinic instead of having a panel that looks open but isn’t.

    1. Joan Callamezzo*

      Eh. A medical specialist in a small town is a valuable resource. My job occasionally takes me to a small town that sees heavy tourist traffic in the summer. They don’t have a cardiologist, for example, but they were lucky enough to attract a neurologist some years ago and they admit freely they are *extremely* protective of her time, because they want her to be happy and continue to live there. So they won’t call her in for cases where a tourist has a dizzy spell and wants to know if they should interrupt their vacation, but they *will* call her for critical cases regardless of whether the patient is a local or not. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

      1. MK*

        Eh, I am not sure it makes sense. Does a small town generate enough work for such a specialist? Wouldn’t she want as much work as she can get?

        But it’s rather horrific that a patient’s care should be subject to considerations about how happy the doctor will be. If there is reason to call a specialist, you call them regardless of whether the patient is local or a tourist, and the doctor does their job (which they signed up for before they got to medical school, knowing they were likely to have irregural hours). If there is no reason to call them, it shouldn’t matter if there are half a dozen of them kicking their heels in the next room or if the patient is the mayor. I certainly hope some poor person never got sent home without a proper examination, because the town was too protective of the doctor’s time to bother her with some silly tourist’s dizzy spell that turned out to be a ruptured aneurysm.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Being a doctor doesn’t obligate someone to treat everyone all the time for everything. A neurologist in a small resort town is likely there because she puts a large value on work-life balance, not money.

          I doubt anyone in need of care is being sent home without care. They are likely triaged and redirected either to their own specialist back home, to the one in the nearest big city, or in an emergency to the local specialist.

        2. Tuckerman*

          I’m not sure if this is the case for this particular scenario, but healthcare payment models have been moving from fee for service (the insurance company pays the doctor for each service rendered) to capitated payments (the insurance company pays the doctor $20/month for each patient, and that must cover a wide range of appointments/diagnostics/treatments). This shift in payment structure is intended to reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcome (doctors hesitate to order unnecessary tests, there is more emphasis on preventative care). It also means doctors want their patients to be able to see them quickly when they are ill, to avoid costly complications (e.g. hospitalization due to worsening asthma when a cheap oral steroid could have prevented it). So I understand why doctors would not want to fill their schedules with non-patients.

          1. MK*

            I am assuming that the person who decides whether to call the specialist is another doctor, right? A general practitioner who makes the call if the situation is critical, or if it can wait till the patient goes home or visit the nearest hospital or something. I find it highly problematic that this doctor, who should be thinking only about what’s best for the patient, is apparently also thinking about their colleague’s free time. I am not saying that the specialist has to see everyone just in case, but this is a dangerous bias for not calling the specialist.

            1. Amy G. Golly*

              I’m assuming it’s the patients who are asking to see a specialist, and the GP telling them, “No, that’s not warranted here.” (Which, quite frankly, should happen whether they’re a tourist or not…)

            2. Honeybee*

              Well, that’s not always how it works. It depends on what kind of insurance the patient has. Patients on HMO plans are theoretically supposed to see a general practitioner first for a referral to a specialist, but patients on other kinds of insurance plans (like PPO) can often directly make appointments with a specialist. So a new patient could be a referral from a GP or could be a direct call from a patient who thinks he needs a specialist. (And that’s not accounting for the fact that some HMO patients try to get around the GP requirement anyway by calling up the specialist directly, or people who are willing to pay out of pocket).

              But GPs don’t only think about the immediate patient in front of them; they think about all their patients, and the medical system in general. Think about it: If a cardiologist in a small town feels overloaded with resort patients, they may move, leaving the town without a cardiologist for the GP to refer to. Or the GP may feel like the particular patient’s acute problem could be easily handled by urgent care, freeing up the schedule for cardiac patients who actually need long-term relationships with a cardiologist (like people with heart murmurs or recovering from surgery or whatnot).

              Either way, this is exactly the kind of thing urgent care was designed for: A situation that is not emergent, but at times or in circumstances in which making an appointment with an office doctor is not warranted. Urgent care wait times are usually (usually!) not as long as the emergency room.

        3. Honeybee*

          This is what emergency rooms and urgent care are for, though. Emergency rooms legally have to see you no matter who you are.

    2. Daisy*

      I don’t see how it’s remotely silly. Registering with a doctor when you’re on holiday seems like the silly idea to me- if it’s an emergency go to casualty, if it’s not wait til you get home. And yes, of course they can ask if someone lives locally before signing them up- why would that be difficult?

      1. MK*

        I don’t suppose they are registering with her; they are calling for an appointment because their child is sick. And it’s probably in cases when it’s not so serious that you would rush to the ER, but not trivial enough that you would be comfortable waiting till you get home.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Which sounds like a situation where referring them to a drop in clinic is perfectly reasonable.

          I can certainly understand why the doctor doesn’t want to fill their time with seeing one-off appointments, particularly in a tourist spot where they are getting frequent calls from visitors wanting appointments as soon as possible. The doctor has a limited amount of time, and adding a lot of tourist drop ins is time that is taken away from seeing her existing patients, or adding new patients who live in the area and will be regulars.

          1. MK*

            The OP mentioned an “urgent care facility”; I don’t know if that is the same thing as a drop in clinic, but I doubt the referral is particularly useful. People know they can simply walk into an ER and receive care; if they are making the effort to track down a local doctor and call for an appointment, it’s because they want to avoid the usually crowded ER, the long wait and the hassle that comes with it, and are willing to pay for private care.

            Of course the doctor can decide to run their practise as they see fit; if they don’t want to clog their appointment schedule with one-time patients, it’s certainly reasonable to refer them somewhere else. But it’s not silly of the sick tourists to ask for an appointment either; some doctors in holiday spots expect and welcome the extra patients (and income) during the season, sometimes it even makes up for the fact that the local population is not large enough to support some specialists without it. And there are always newer practitioners who are just getting started and need all the work they can get.

            1. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

              Urgent care facilities in my area (suburban NYC) are exactly equal to a drop in facility. And they are meant to keep people from using the ER for non-emergencies, as well as sick people who for whatever reason cannot get to their regular physicians. This includes visitors to the area. Most private physicians would turn you down for an immediate appointment unless you were a regular patient. Even if you are, it’s difficult to get appointments same day unless an extreme emergency.

            2. blu*

              An urgent care facility is not the same thing as the ER. Urgent Care facilities are for urgent needs that are not imminently life threatening. For example, when I thought I had the flu, I was able to get a quick lookover and some Tamiflu at my local urgent care. In that care, the ER would not have been the appropriate choice.

              In fact, think of urgent care as exactly what you said, “tracking down a local doctor”. This doctor is basically referring to you to one who is expressly set up to take one time patients.

              1. blackcat*


                Even when I’ve had a regular doctor, I’ve gone to urgent care places for things like sinus infections. Urgent care places (in the US) generally take walk-in patients for simple, time sensitive stuff, such as sudden illnesses, minor injuries, etc. They’re cheaper than an ER and totally suitable for most uncomplicated things (slice your hand while chopping vegetables? many urgent care places will stitch you right up for 1/10th the cost of an ER visit). I’ve been to a few that have x-ray machines and will set and put a cast on a simple fracture. They refer people to ERs or specialists for stuff beyond what they can handle. They can certainly handle most problems that a child would have on vacation.

                I can certainly see why a local doctor’s office may not have sufficient time in their schedule or be equipped to handle the more complex billing of out of state patients. An urgent care in a resort area has got to be set up for that–in fact, they are probably set up to profit from the misfortunes of tourists (I don’t have a problem with that–if you can provide a needed service and make $$, good for you).

                And I think “referral” in this case isn’t a formal medical referral. More like people calling and them saying, “I’m sorry, but we can’t schedule you for an appointment. You can go to Urgent Care Clinic at ADDRESS. Their hours are XX-XX.”

                1. Kyrielle*

                  Also, in some cases, they can in fact make an appointment with them. The most common urgent-care chain where I am (and, come to think, the second-most-common as well) handles drop-ins but you can also schedule in advance.

                  I am, in fact, scheduled to head over there in about a half hour to get checked whether I’m “just” dealing with a cold or might have strep. I booked the appointment online last night.

                  Could I go to my regular doctor? Well, yes. But – I’d see whichever of her fellow doctors was scheduled for a few open-for-urgent-need slots today, they might all be filled up (and this isn’t urgent enough to cram me in anyway), it’s a longer drive, and the wait would be longer. (Whoever is handling the urgent-need drop ins is almost always backed up, often by 30-60 minutes; the urgent care clinics build their whole model around this and do it well.) Also, they’re not open at 7 am.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  Same here–when I hurt myself skating (whiplash), I went to the urgent care facility because my regular doctor’s office wasn’t open (it was a Sunday). They updated my physician so he knew what was going on.

                  This clinic is affiliated with the health system my insurance is through. The procedure was the same as going to the doc’s office–whip out your insurance card, do your copay, etc. I don’t know about stuff like Doctors on Duty, which was what I went to when I lived in CA. They took anybody who walked in the door.

            3. Liane*

              Yes, in the US, an urgent care clinic is a drop in/walk in clinic. I have used them in my area many times. Some chains can, per their ads, even do x-rays. IME, most of the waiting room time is spent on forms. There is usually a short wait in the exam room, as there may only be one doctor/nurse practitioner/physician’s assistant* on at any time.
              They usually take many types of insurance, and, unlike the ER, it is an office co-pay. Depending on the urgent care chain and your insurance, if there is a co-pay, it may be either primary care or specialist.
              I would use one of these rather than a local office if I was on vacation. While most doctor’s offices in my area have some “acute”/same day appointment slots (vs walk-ins) those may also be limited to current patients and will get filled very early in the day, especially in flu/cold season, on a Monday, or the day after a holiday. Also the urgent clinics almost always have weekend and early evening hours, which is seldom the case in a doctor’s office.

              *for those not in US, the latter 2 professions are licensed practitioners legally allowed to diagnose, treat and prescribe medicines, with some variation between states

            4. Anon for this*

              It actually is a useful, appropriate referral. It’s not the same as an emergency department (which is often wildly expensive, and people know they cannot simply “walk into an ER and receive care” without a horrifying bill). I’m not sure what you’re basing your advice on here.

              1. MK*

                Eh, on the fact that I don’t live in the U.S., I suppose. ERs are the one place people are guaranteed to not have to pay anything for genuine emergency care.

                1. Solidus Pilcrow*

                  Not true in the US. People with *emergency* needs are guaranteed to receive care in an ER (depending on how busy and well-staffed the ER is, non emergency cases may not get care or have to wait a long while), but it’s not free. People with insurance are expected to pay according to their policy; people without insurance either need to work out a payment plan or the hospital eats the cost—which is why the cost is so high for ER visits. Also, any followup care and/or hospitalization is expected to be paid for.

                  My brother was in a motorcycle accident a few years ago (don’t worry, he’s OK now). He and his insurance had to pay for the air ambulance, ER visit, surgery, hospitalization, medications, and followup visits.

                2. ExceptionToTheRule*

                  Yeah, my co-pay for an urgent care visit is $45. Going to the ER is $100. Plus 20% of whatever tests they run.

                3. LBK*

                  Ha – yeah, no, definitely not the same here. For most people in the US there’s a $100 copay just for walking into the ER if you aren’t admitted. That’s with insurance. It’s intended to discourage people who don’t have actual emergencies from using the ER as their primary healthcare provider and push them to urgent care/regular physicians.

                4. Meg Murry*

                  As others have mentioned, you don’t have it quite right. In the US, in the ER you are guaranteed to receive emergency, life saving, care regardless of your ability to pay. But you will receive a bill for the care you receive, and it will not be cheap. For people that truly can not pay (at a certain level below the poverty line) the hospital will cover the cost, but it involves a ton of paperwork, and the determination of what you can “afford” to pay for anyone not at the indigent level of poverty could still be very, very high, which is why one of the major reasons people apply for bankruptcy in the US is medical debt.

                  Also, that guarantee is only for true emergency life saving care – if you walk in having a heart attack or come in unconscious, you will be treated first, and asked about insurance, etc later. If you come in with a less serious condition, you might not be treated without first being asked about insurance and given forms that you sign agreeing to pay for your treatment. There was a sad article on NPR not long ago about undocumented immigrants that needed dialysis, but according to Medicaid rules they couldn’t be given preventative dialysis, even if their lungs were filling with fluid and they were having trouble breathing – doctors had to wait until their condition was bad enough to justify hospitalization, so it would be “life saving care” – even though it is more expensive to hospitalize them at that point and treat them than to give routine dialysis.

                5. blackcat*

                  @LBK, mine is $500 for going to the ER *even if* I were to be admitted.

                  It’s only $100 if I were to arrive via ambulance AND be admitted.

                  Ambulance + no admission is the $500 copay AND NO COVERAGE for the ambulance (which is ~$2k/trip around here). They further claim that medical transportation is not covered under the out of pocket cap.

                6. Artemesia*

                  IN the US ER care is incredibly expensive. My husband recently had a heart scare that turned out not to be serious; the cost for that ER visit was over 18K A couple of thousand of that we will have to pay over what insurance pays.

                  When my son had a broken arm decades ago it cost us $400 for his ER visit where they failed to diagnose the broken arm (his own doctor did several days later after he insisted it ‘really is broken’ — he was 14) On another occasion stitches for my toddler daughter cost us a couple hundred (35 years ago).

                  ER care in the US is not free and is in fact the costliest care and at least in the past insurance often didn’t pay if it turned out not to be an emergency e.g. my husband wasn’t having a heart attack, so in the past many insurance companies would refuse to pay for the ER visit and tests and we would have been saddled with that huge bill.

                7. A Non E. Mouse*

                  ERs are the one place people are guaranteed to not have to pay anything for genuine emergency care.

                  WOW no, No. NO.

                  My “Urgent Care” copay is $25, same as my regular doctor copay. My ER copay is $100 while I’m there (like, sorry about that gushing wound, where’s your insurance card and please sign here with your remaining fingers), the first $800 of the total cost is mine, then 20% coinsurance rate.

                  We have literally super glued a wound back together rather than go to the ER because it was after Urgent Care hours. It wasn’t a $900+ dollar wound.

                8. MK*

                  I see. Here it’s usually free or very cheap, but there is usually a pretty long wait involved, unless you are in immediate distress. That’s why most people who an afford to call a private doctor to see if they can get an appointment immediately.

                9. Anna*

                  In the states that would be a clinic. The cost is usually determined by a sliding scale based on ability to pay. Frequently they are run by non-profits and sometimes government. Some healthcare companies also run clinics (although now that I think about it most healthcare companies are not-for-profits). You will wait a long time. Some ERs tend to treat people with lower incomes because they charge on a sliding scale, too. (I know. It gets confusing.)

                  Example. I went to my doctor because I was having a hard time breathing. She sent me to the ER because she was worried I was having a pulmonary embolism. The ER I ended up at is one of the sliding scales ERs. I ended up waiting almost 10 hours to see someone who told me I had a viral bronchial infection. I walked out able to breathe and then developed H1N1 a few days later. SO. That was fun.

                  If I had gone to the ER closer to my home that usually doesn’t treat on a sliding scale, I wouldn’t have had to wait as long.

            5. Elysian*

              Every time I’ve gone to a private doctor it has cost less than the ER – every insurance plan I’ve had has tried to discourage people from using the ER as their primary mode of care by having a high ER deductible and co-pay, and a small primary care co-pay. So I definitely don’t think its a matter of “willing to pay for private care.” As others have said, urgent care is really the right place to go if something is serious enough to deal with one vacation but not serious enough for the ER.

              1. Kyrielle*

                Yep. I’ve had a $150 copay for the ER and then I cover 20% of remaining beyond that.

                My copay for an office visit (regular or specialist) is less than the copay for the ER, and I don’t have to cover any percentage of the remaining.

                (Okay, I haven’t hit my deductible yet this year, so actually I have to cover it all, because I’m on a high-deductible plan. ER visits are expensive, though – it would certainly help me hit my deductible, but that’s not actually a goal I’m aiming for.)

          2. Trout 'Waver*

            I’d also like to point out that people who move to resort towns often want to enjoy those resort towns in season. The tourists don’t pay the bills in the off-season, and would flood the practice during the season.

            1. MK*

              Actually, the income derived from tourists during the season is what makes it possible for many bussineses to remain financially viable. For 3 years I lived in a place where the population tripled from May to September; I didn’t enjoy the tourist invasion, but I realise that many of the things that made life pleasant there the year around simply wouldn’t be possible without the money they brought.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                I think medical specialists may have a different business model from your average tourist destination business that relies on tourist traffic.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yes — and presumably the doctor knows what makes sense for her practice and whether this model is sustainable (and has decided that it is). She’s not saying “I block you from medical treatment in this town.” She’s saying “here is a place you can go instead, and they can see you today.”

                2. MK*

                  The principle can apply though. I was seeing a specialist there, one of the 7 doctors in town with this rare specialty, and she told me that the local population could at most support 2 of them (as in generate enough income for them to make a living). All of them were seeing tourists and the extra income during the summer months did in fact pay most of their bills for the rest of the year too. And I appreciated being given more choice between doctors.

                  Of course it’ a matter of individual choice.

              2. Rebecca Anne*

                True, but I know that some people feel rather disgruntled when they aren’t able to access core services during peak season because those services are being used by tourists.

                I lived in a place which was a University town. 9 months of the year, it was packed with students and things like doctor visits were at a premium – it was possible to call up and be told that there was no opportunity to see a doctor for two weeks. That’s fine if it’s not urgent, but the town had no infrastructure to support an additional 10,000 people. There was no Urgent Care facilities or similar. Even restaurant bookings were a hassle because you would be edged closer to higher cost restaurants because the students were in the more affordable restaurants and fast food outlets. Even public transport was prone to issues. When you are a resident and your job involves using public transport and journeys of up to an hour – it’s hard to cope with the fact that all the students have taken the seats and you’ve to stand for the entire journey. (Made it hard to read too…)

                There is definitely a point that the town could not survive without the University crowd but you lived for the months where you could breathe without someone’s elbow in your kidneys.

                I can see why the doctor has instituted the policy, and provided that Urgent Care is close by or a reasonable/accessible distance away, then it’s his/her practice and he/she can run it whatever way they want. If the distance is unfeasible, and remember it’s tourists so they may not have their own methods of transport with them (arrived by public transport, etc.) then maybe it would be worth a rethink (maybe X appointments a day set aside and if not used, given to whoever requires them).

                Would out of state billing be an issue, i.e. different laws governing them, different requirements that would be a hardship to follow? Could there be an issue with insurance providers not covering out of state costs? (I know mine has issues with out of country costs even if they are emergencies.) Would they know upfront that the insurance will not pay and be in danger of not being compensated for the treatments? Just a thought…

        2. Colette*

          Many doctors don’t see people who aren’t their patients unless they are working at a walk in clinic. My doctor’s office will only see patients from 8-4, and takes walk-ins after that.

          1. MK*

            It apparently varies by country a lot. In mine, all doctors will book an appointment for any patient who calls for one, although any are booked for several days or weeks in advance. Many have extra slots, or hours for their regular patients. But the concept of walk-in doesn’t exist; you always call the doctor beforehand, even to say “I am standing in the lobby of your building and I have X problem. Do you have time to see me?”.

          2. Ellen Ripley*

            Around here, the number of doctors who are taking on new patients is much smaller than the number of doctors who aren’t. Many are in practice groups who will take their colleagues’ patients in an urgent situation, or take family members of current patients. But if you’re a brand new person calling to get an appointment, you’ll probably be waiting weeks if not months.

    3. snuck*

      You know if a prospective patient is a townie or not by their paperwork.

      I would assume from this doctor’s preferences that they don’t have any issue filling their appointment book and don’t need to see out of town people to keep their numbers up.

      I imagine that trying to see blow ins who are there temporarily could be a high risk activity medically speaking – I know American’s have a system where you see a pediatrician for a child and I assume this is American… but in other parts of the world you only see a pediatrician as a specialist if your child has something that is needing specialist care (for example my son has an anxiety disorder, and autism, and dyspraxia, and anaphylaxis, and asthma – he only sees the pediatrician for the autism and allergy issues, the rest is general practitioner or allied health land). I imagine that if people were booking in to see the pediatrician and it was for something more complex there’s a real risk of harm because the pediatrician won’t know the back history or the long term plans… and a referral to an emergency department means that short term help can be offered from a team that can access a wider range of information.

      Another thought is that there might be doctor shopping going on. Not sure the rules in the US, but in Australia Ritalin and epi pens etc are on high security scripts… the pediatrician probably is able to rule all that out immediately by only seeing long term patients.

      I see no issue with him closing his books.

      1. Blurgle*

        It is different in the States. I’m forever amazed by the concept of going to a fancy pricy ob/gyn for a simple Pap smear – or anything less than surgery, cancer, or high-risk pregnancy. That’s what the family doctor is for.

        1. Liane*

          You can get Pap smears and the like, but usually not (normal, low risk) pregnancy care, at your primary doctor in the US, but over here ob/gyns are considered closer to primary care than specialists. Even our notoriously stingy insurers class them as primary care, so lower co-pay. Only subspecialists, like a gyn oncologist, would be considered a specialist.

          1. YaH*

            True- and your annual well-woman visit (general exam) with a gynecologist won’t have a copay because that’s covered via ACA.

            1. AnonInSC*

              Except for those of us with the state health plan in South Carolina. Still grandfathered! No – all the women I know AREN’T bitter about that at all……..

          2. Sarahnova*

            Still, there’s a whole world of interesting implications in these differences, isn’t there? (Fortunately for Alison, this is probably not the place to debate them!) Routine care for low-risk pregnancies basically doesn’t involve doctors at all in the UK, and I believe that’s because of research showing that it generates better outcomes. When I get a smear test, it is done at the GP’s office, but it’s done by a nurse practitioner; GPs less often do procedures as routine as that.

            1. snuck*

              Routine medical care for pregnancies in the public system is done by midwives in Australia, or with shared care with your local GP if you wish. Only if you go high risk do you wind up with a Obstetrician.

              1. Sarahnova*

                Yeah, same. My GP referred me to the midwifery service, and then I basically didn’t see a doctor again, other than for scans at 12 and 20 weeks; all my care during pregnancy was midwife-led and I delivered in a midwife-led unit. Only if you are high-risk do you end up “under consultant care” and I think a lot of the routine visits are still midwife-led. NICE standard guidelines now are to actively encourage women who had a straightforward first birth to deliver somewhere other than hospital, either at home or in a midwife-led unit, because it leads to better outcomes. It’s interesting how different care standards can be due to politics and/or payment.

        2. Doodle*

          I think for a lot of American women, the OB/GYN *is* the family doctor. I’ve been to mine for allergies, anxiety, etc. as well as the annual women’s exam. I just usually see a nurse practitioner (in the same office/practice) if it’s allergies or a flu.

          1. Mreasy*

            Yeah, a lot of women have their ob/gyn practice as their primary care, either by default or design. It’s common in the US.

        3. Felicia*

          In the states people see an OBGYN for a pap smear? I didnt know that! I’m in Canada and we see a family doctor for that. I get a lot of knowledge about the US from this blog.

          Although in Canada children often do see pediatricians… theyre essentially considered family doctors but for children. I saw one until I was 13 myself. Though children can also see a regular family doctor and I think the trend is moving away from using pediatricians, at least with my friends/ acquaintances wiþ kids. They want their kid to go to the same doctor they go to

          1. Liane*

            As I mentioned above, in the US ob/gyns are a type of primary care–you don’t need a refferal. Our GP type doctors (who may be family care or internal medicine specialists depending upon their post-MD training) don’t handle any pregnancies because it would send their malpractice insurance rates sky-high.
            Many women, particularly those who don’t have other health issues, may not have another primary doctor, or only see them if they have an illness. Their only annual visit is the gyn exam and Pap.

          2. Elle*

            There was a period of time where I did not have an ob/gyn (he retired), so I asked my PCP to do my annual women’s exam. She was really flustered and said she hadn’t done one in years, asking me why I didn’t have my ob/gyn do it? I thought it was strange…I asked her to please do it for me this one time until I could find another ob/gyn.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I see my PCP for women’s exams, I purposely chose a woman for that reason, and prefer havin a “regular” doctor I can see for everything. But I did have to go to an ob/gyn for IUD insertion.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              I have never ever been to a gyn for an exam. It’s always the PCP. Of course, I don’t have any children, so I’ve never needed an obstetrician either. (I don’t care if it’s a man or a woman.)

          3. Liana*

            It’s definitely not universal. I see my PCP (who is a nurse practitioner) for my annual Pap smear. For me, it’s simply the most convenient, as I’ve never had abnormal results, so there’s no need to see a specialist. She actually offered to do mine last year when she found out I hadn’t had one in awhile. Liane is also correct though – OB/GYNs are a type of primary care in the States, so you don’t need a referral. They’re specialized, but not nearly as specialized as say, a neurologist.

          4. Anna*

            I’ve seen an OB/GYN and a family doctor for a pap. It just depends on who you see more regularly. Right now I don’t have an OB/GYN and my regular physician is a resident, so they LOVE to do the extra stuff. (I think they do, anyway.)

        4. Judy*

          My sister is a family practice doctor, and when she started practice, she did deliver babies. But fairly soon after that, the malpractice insurance became way too much for her to do it. In my state 15-20 years ago, malpractice insurance to deliver babies was over $30K/year. When my kids were born a decade ago, the fee to the OB was around $2k which covered 9 months of office visits plus delivery, so you have to deliver quite a few babies to break even over the insurance. That’s why family doctors in the US rarely deliver babies any more.

          1. Judy*

            I would say that I used my GP for pap smears until I was pregnant. Once I had a relationship with my OB, I continued to see her, because I like how she runs her office. (They even call 30 minutes before if she’s running more than 15 minutes late, so I can stay at work and not wait. Very little waiting in that office.) My GP’s office does ask if I need a PAP each year, and I say that I use my OB.

        5. Meg Murry*

          Yes, part of the reason is that it’s a cycle in the US – specialists are higher paid in the US, so more medical school students choose specialties other than becoming GPs or family doctors – and so there is a shortage of GPs in a lot of cities.

          Also, in the US there are sub-specialties – so my kids see a pediatrician that acts as a GP but only for kids, but for certain conditions (like what snuck lists – autism and allergies, for instance) they would see a specialist – for instance an ENT for allergies, who may or may not specialize in pediatric ENT. Same with an OB/GYN – women without pre-existing conditions would see a standard OB/GYN for prenatal care (or could see a midwife, but they aren’t as common) but there are also OBs or GYNs that specialize in surgery, high risk pregnancy, endometriosis, etc that patients are referred to for things outside of routine care.

      2. Anon for this*

        In the U.S., if it helps with the conversation about this question at all, a pediatrician acts as your general practitioner until you’re an older teenager or young adult.

        An urgent care clinic is not an emergency department. They offer appointments for acute problems. Some are chains, some are affiliated with hospitals. They are generally much less expensive than emergency departments and slightly less expensive that regular doctors’ offices.

    4. Anon for this*

      This seems like an intentionally uncharitable and strange reading of the doctor’s policy. “One block further constitutes a vacationer?”

      Besides that, OP’s question is about how to implement the policy; OP is not in control of the policy herself.

      1. Bwmn*

        I agree with this – and additionally, if this is in the US – it could also be due to difficulty in tracking down assorted insurance claims. Whether it’s primarily a US resort area or particularly if there are also international travel insurance claims to deal with – I see this also as a way for the doctor to keep administrative costs down. In the US most of our insurance plans are somewhat tailored to the area we live in – not that we can’t see a doctor out of town/state – but the plans do vary. To expect a local doctor’s billing system to adapt to so many insurance types seems very burdensome when the nature of the concerns would be more suited to urgent care.

        I will say though that my advice to the OP is to not fret about giving reasons if a parent presses to know why. Be as helpful as possible with giving the urgent care information and just be a broken record about the reality of the situation, not the reasons why it exists. I’m sure that people calling with ill or injured kids are likely to be emotional, but just keep repeating yourself.

        1. Edith*

          I doubt it’s due to insurance. In the U.S. doctors either accept your insurance or they don’t– being local or not wouldn’t affect that aside from it being more likely that locals will have an insurer the doctor accepts. And if it were about insurance the doctor would probably be okay with self-pay vacationers. I think Alison had the doctor’s motives pegged– she likely just wants to cut down on the number of patients she sees once and then never again, which is entirely reasonable.

          1. Bwmn*

            I agree that’s likely the primary reason – but with all due respect, you’re vastly over simplifying the insurance issue in the US.

            Insurance plans can vary greatly from employer to employer and region to region, and while the doctor is or isn’t in any certain plan – the processes on how to file claims are not all the same. This means that you need to have an administrative team, vendor or other system capable of dealing with all of those variations. Someone can easily have one (of many many many) CareFirst plans that say Dr. OP takes my insurance, so the person arrives, pays their copay and then leaves out of state. Well, it may well be that that Dr. OP only takes plans A & B with Carefirst but is not in network for plan C. Now that goes against the patient’s deductible and the doctor needs to chase the patient for the remainder of that money.

            Depending on the size and solvency of the practice, the delays that may occur in trying to be reimbursed by insurance or an individual can be very cumbersome and prolonged. However, if you need an admin team or vendor dealing primarily with Resort Area insurance and the occasional exception, that is different. This is why for large hospitals that deal with high numbers of out of state patients, there will often be people hired just to deal with issues like pre-authorization and other niche insurance issues as opposed to a general admin tasked with everything.

        2. Is It Performance Art*

          Not to mention if she agrees to see a patient for a cough and once the kid’s in the exam room, the parent explains they don’t vaccinate. It’s probably not whooping cough but it’s still the stuff of sleepless nights.

      2. Edith*

        It was an intentionally pragmatic reading of the doctor’s policy. The doctor doesn’t want to see patients who have flown in for the week? That’s fine. But not everyone vacations like that, and the policy leaves enormous gaping gray areas. A policy like this has implications that may not be obvious. The ‘one block further’ line was meant to illustrate one such implication.

        As to your second paragraph: I understand that you disagree with me, but we discuss the workplace policies described by letter writers all the time here, not just the ones they have direct control over.

        1. Bwmn*

          While the OP wrote that the doctor prefers to take locals and not tourists, how that is placed into practice can vary greatly. As another poster mentioned, there’s telling patients that they can not see the doctor without scheduling an annual check up appointment first. Which for a family spending 3 months in the area with a child facing chronic illnesses that would be fine, but for a family spending 3 weeks – maybe not worth it.

          The doctor could place insurance restrictions on patients, so only those with in-state plans can be seen – whether or not they’re willing to pay out of pocket. Having an office capable to process national/international insurance claims could easily be reason enough to not want to take such patients. The doctor could only see people with a physical address in the area, which if the resort area is one heavy in hotels vs. home rentals is another way. Depending on the nature of the resort community, there are lots of ways to tease out such patients.

          My first job out of undergrad was in a psychologists office and their standing policy was to never accept a same day first appointment regardless of how free their schedule was. Their thinking was that anyone who needed to see someone that quickly was better served going to the ER. I think a lot of doctors offices place such restrictions on appointments and patients that they will see, and I really don’t see it as uncharitable.

          1. Edith*

            In the clinics I’ve worked at a new patient appointment includes a physical on top of whatever issue prompted the visit, so it would be hard to weed people out based on that. That said, hoop-jumping is a tried-and-true method of dealing with problem (and potential problem) patients– like making suspected drug-seekers come in for an office visit before refilling their meds– and if this policy is presented as a hoop to jump through I can get behind it 100%. Saying “we don’t see vacationers” is a whole different ballgame than subtly dissuading people who are only in town for the week.

    5. Meg Murry*

      I was also wondering whether the doctor would accept patients that had a summer home and were there for the whole season, but not people that were only there for 1-2 weeks. I could see if you were staying in a summer home for the bulk of the season and had a child with a condition that was generally managed but occasionally flared up that you would want to establish a local pediatrician – for instance, maybe a child with asthma, etc, where urgent care could

      In my area, doctors only make same day or next day appointments for current patients. New patients require first a physical (for an adult) or well child visit (for kids), and that appointment is longer (45 min to an hour, instead of 15-30 min) and goes over medical history and may do basic blood tests, height, weight, possibly vaccines for kids – but if you have a medical concern you have to make an additional appointment just for that issue.

      So when you call up a doctor in our area, the first question you are asked is “Are you a current patient of Dr. So-and-so?” If yes, they look you up and see when was the last time you had a physical/routine appointment. If no, in this case, OP could ask “Did you recently move to the area, do you already have a pediatrician?” That would be a polite way to say “Are you a tourist or townie?” without outright saying that. And then OP could use Alison’s script.

      The other option if the resort area is only a summer seasonal place is to say (if the doctor is ok with it) “Dr So-and-so isn’t accepting new patients right now, our first appointment available for new patients probably wouldn’t be until September. To be seen right now, I suggest you go to the urgent care on X street, would you like their address?” Chances are tourists will say “Nevermind, I’ll go to the urgent care (or find another doctor)” whereas locals may or may not accept waiting.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        This seems practical to me.

        It’s my experience, especially with pediatricians who have have always been high demand in the areas I lived, that they never did walk ins. It was quite a thing to GET a pediatrician when I moved twice (when my kids were young). I’d have to call around seeing who would take new patients at all.

      2. Meg Murry*

        Oops, I didn’t finish my thought in the first paragraph – I was saying

        for instance, maybe a child with asthma, etc, where the ER could handle true emergencies, but urgent care wouldn’t necessarily be able to handle complications that aren’t ER worthy but need to be taken care of before they develop into something more serious.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      I was with you until I considered how things have been around my area for quite some time. It’s nearly impossible to get in to see your primary doctor (or pediatrician if it’s your child) on the same day if you’re ill. Those appointments seem to have become very limited, so it’s become quite the norm to just go to urgent care when ill. They take walk-ins and most have expanded hours til like 8pm too (and I can’t remember the wait ever being more than an hour). I rarely even try to see my regular dr when I’m sick, I only go to them for my physical or some other non-urgent concern I have (like the kind of thing you know they’ll need to refer you to a specialist anyway, but insurance requires you see primary dr first).

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Mine does have walk-in hours, but they’re early and you do have to wait. I’ve only done it once. It’s hard to get an appointment there because it’s difficult to get a human on the phone. :(

    7. Lizard*

      As a US-based primary care doctor myself (internal medicine), if your business model involves providing ongoing care to a patient panel, you really do not want to be bumping your regular patients out of visits in order to accommodate one-timers. There are a bunch of things that factor into that.

      1) Same-day and next-day visits for minor problems are much simpler if you already know the patient’s medical problems and don’t have to cover the patient’s entire medical history first. It’s surprising how much information patients will forget to give you. So if I see an adult who is feeling crappy, it makes a huge difference if I know they also have diabetes, asthma, etc.

      2) Primary care practices are increasingly being evaluated on their long-term management of panels of patients. I’m in a Patient-Centered Medical Home, which is a designation that requires us to have fairly extensive documentation on things like medication review, patient education, management of chronic conditions over time, etc. The reviewing bodies don’t distinguish between ongoing patients and one-timers. So if, for instance, I see someone with poorly controlled diabetes and then they never come back, that person will ding my diabetes quality measures as much as someone who I’m working with on an ongoing basis, even though I have no control over that person’s condition. For a pediatrician, having one patient come in with an asthma exacerbation and then never returns just puts a “poorly controlled asthma patient” on their books and they never get to see them back when they’re doing better, plus unless they do an extensive intake, they’ll also be dinged for not having the patient’s vaccination records, lung function measurements, etc.–all the things you get when you’re seeing someone with asthma on an ongoing basis.

      3) One of the great pleasures of primary care is getting to know your patients over time. If I only wanted to see people with acute problems, I would have gone into emergency medicine or intensive care. I WANT to see that asthmatic patient back when they’re feeling better because I adjusted their medications. I WANT to do the pap and make sure the mammogram is up to date and talk about that nagging shoulder problem.

      4) common courtesy. I keep same day appointments as a service for my patients. If I get too many requests, I end up having to overbook myself and that makes me run behind. If I’m seeing Jane Tourist in my last same-day slot and Joe Regular calls up, I’ll have to overbook him and then I will be late and grumpy.

      5) As others have mentioned, taking out-of-town insurance is a big headache. There are a bajillion similar-sounding plans that have narrow physician networks that don’t overlap and it’s hard enough trying to bill to four or five insurance plans that you know well. A small practice isn’t equipped to chase down a single visit’s payment to the ends of the earth, and if you’re getting any substantial amount of business from tourists, that can really add up.

      That’s not to say that I don’t see patients who are from out of town. I have a bunch of patients (retirees mostly) who live in one state in the summer and another in the winter. That’s fine with me; the point is to have an ongoing relationship.

      There’s certainly a business model for catering to tourists and I imagine that the urgent care where this doctor is referring the patients has expanded hours and staffing during the high season to accommodate increased demand. It just doesn’t happen to be this particular doctor’s preferred model, which is fine.

      1. PrimaryCareDoc*

        Thank you! I’m also an internal medicine doc, and you saved me the trouble of writing a comment by hitting every bullet point.

        I am also in a resort area. I take patients who are seasonal (my “snowbirds”) but I don’t take vacationers who are just here for a week or two. That would fill my entire schedule, and leave no room for my regular patients.

      2. Soupspoon McGee*

        Thank you! I scribe for a primary care PA, and while our clinic does see walk-in patients, they have to be established with someone at the clinic first. A large number of our patients are homeless or very low income, and sometimes the only way to get them to the clinic is to reserve same-day slots. If we saw people who don’t intend to establish with us, we would lose those slots.

    8. Happy Lurker*

      OP – What a bunch of comments you get to read today! I am guessing that you posed the question because the backlash from the general public is pretty nerve wracking. Try to take a deep breath and find your best phrase and tone of voice to let people know that the practice doesn’t have any appointments open at the current time, but the closes Urgent Care Facility is only a few miles down the road and their phone number is …. Best of luck!

      By the way, I love my local Urgent Care, quick in and out. But every time I go (after finding out my doc has no appointments), I get an immediate call from the doctors office asking why I went.

    9. Tau*

      This has been super awkward for me, because I’m working on a client site full-time and have been for six months. I tried registering here temporarily – I can’t register permanently because I’m not actually a *resident* and don’t have proof of address and the like – and was told that nope, they don’t do temporary registrations and only see temporary residents for emergencies. And no doctor’s in the town I actually live is open weekends. So at the moment, if I want to go to the doctor’s, I have to take a full day off on either Monday or Friday. It sucks.

  7. Bookworm*

    Some people have high expectations – and some people have TOO high expectations. Nothing is more miserable than working with someone who expects you to perform miracles.

    If an employer has high, but feasible, expectations they can screen for that by describing the work, asking you about past work situations, and being upfront about what success generally looks like. It sounds like she didn’t do any of that – plus, given what she said about her last companies, brings to mind the wisdom that if everyone you meet is an asshole – you’re probably the asshole.

    In my experience, some people get addicted to the rush of workplace fire-drills and perfectionism. In their eyes, everything is emergency, everything needs to have each detail perfect. They will call this high expectations, but in reality this is often less about results, and more about sustaining an image.

    You really don’t want to work for someone like that, because no amount of success will quench that need.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      OMG yes this. The absolute worst is working for someone who expects things that are *literally* impossible (get this ancient computer to run high-end modern graphics software, get this package delivered sooner than a vehicle could physically get there, package and mail this shelf full of mailings to separate addresses in the next 5 minutes) and berates you for not getting it done somehow. (“A real go-getter would find a way to MAKE IT HAPPEN!”) Particularly common in dysfunctional small businesses.

      1. Temperance*

        Whenever I hear words like “show initiative” or “go-getter” or “gumption”, I know that I’m not going to like the person using them (unless it is an ironic way, or to discuss how annoying it is when people say these things).

        I still cringe thinking about the woman that I used to work for who insisted that I could convert a .pdf into a Word document by scanning it. When I told her that I could retype it, and it would take me X amount of time, she would pitch a fit because “STAPLES CAN CONVERT PDFS, WHY CAN’T YOU”.

        1. MaggiePi*

          You can only if you have the right software, although the accuracy varies, and the software isn’t cheap.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Depends. A couple of the scanners I have, the OCR software was included. HP 8500A Plus Office jet (multifunction scanner, colour inkjet, fax machine), I got pretty good results from with the right settings. But, I think I paid $400 for that a few years ago now. I also have a ScanSnap 1500 which only does pages and it also has really good OCR, but nothing is perfect and it’s kind of funny seeing fold lines attempt to get translated. Staples has much higher end equipment than my piddly stuff so if UnreasonableBoss wasn’t willing to buy the right kind of scanner, what other choice do you have than going to Staples or retyping it?

      2. I'm Not Phyllis*

        Yes. Or when you reasonably try to explain why the ancient computer won’t do that, and your boss tells you they don’t like excuses.

  8. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. Is divorce on the cards? Seriously though, if there was no family connection, this behaviour would have been squashed immediaitely.

    1. Bookworm*

      In fairness, there are plenty of people who I could happily be married to but not want to work with.

      Still, it does make you wonder about the inner workings of the family.

      1. Joan Callamezzo*

        Right? My mind is boggling with the implications of all the A W K W A R D going on in that office. And then at the co-founder couple’s home at night.

      2. misspiggy*

        If anyone’s familiar with Fry and Laurie’s big-haired executives, that’s how I’m picturing the situation.
        ‘Marjorie? She’d float her own grandmother as a holding corporation and strip her clean of preference stock, if she thought it would hurt me.’

        1. starsaphire*

          “I’m sorry, Peter. It’s not you… it’s… it’s Marjorie.”

          I loved that sketch!!!

    2. MK*

      Would it? This guy isn’t just married to the boss/boss’ daughter, he is a boss in his own right. The main issue is that the other two partners aren’t willing (or able) to buy him out. I don’t know what structure this company operates under, or how partnerships work there, but in most juristictions a stakeholder cannot be completely excluded from how the company is run.

      1. Joseph*

        “I don’t know what structure this company operates under, or how partnerships work there, but in most juristictions a stakeholder cannot be completely excluded from how the company is run.”
        This is true, but it doesn’t mean he needs to be involved on a day-to-day basis either. Let him keep his shares, and title, let him be involved in major decisions, but at least get him to stop showing up at the office every day.

        Think of a corporate Board of Directors – at major Fortune 500 companies, it’s not uncommon for some Board members to only show up for quarterly meetings and major strategic/personnel decisions and otherwise basically uninvolved with daily operations.

        It might be irritating to feel like you’re paying someone a salary to sit at home and screw around, but if you can’t get rid of him and he’s a “complete drain on the company”, I don’t really see another option. Even AAM’s suggestion of “ignore him” isn’t a great solution, since the instant any manager wavers, even just once, on the “ignore him” policy, employees will no longer trust that the rest of the managers have their back in dealing with this guy.

        1. MK*

          But is paying them to do nothing an option? What if this person isn’t willing to be sidelined like that, what if he wants to work at the company he founded? Can the executive team demand that a board member and stakeholder adopt this hands-off approach? Can they fire him from whatever position he has or is it part of the articles that he has certain powers? And are they willing to face the possibility that he might decide to dissolve the company or sell his shares to a third party?

          My point is, this is not a nepotism problem as CT’s comment implies. It’s about having a problematic company owner, which is another issue altogether.

        2. Not a Tax Guru*

          There are major legal differences between large publicly traded companies and other corporations (or legal entities, like partnerships and LLCs) in terms of the decision-making rights of a co-owner.

          It may be the case that they really can’t remove all of his rights to make decisions and participate in running the business, even if he gets a paycheck. Ignoring the family dynamic, the only way to get rid of him might involve forcing a buy-out, which might mean expenses to get a court involved and tax consequences too. This definitely is a tread carefully & get proper legal advice situation.

          1. Joseph*

            You’re right about the need for legal advice, but I think you’re making a mistake in ignoring the family dynamic. This is more than a purely business relationship. It might not be fair to the employees, but the other owners need to consider the dynamics of the family relationship and how their actions might affect it. An employee only spends 40 hours a week with their boss. A wife who works with her husband is probably spending 130 hours a week together. It’s entirely possible (likely even) that if the husband puts up a stink about “why are you supporting the employees over me?”, the wife will (quite reasonably) decide to let him have his way in some situations for the sake of marital harmony. And from there, the employees will always be gun-shy to contradict him since they’d be unsure if they’d have management support or not.

            On the other end of a computer screen, it’s easy to ignore the family dynamics in play, but it’s a whole different world if you’re the wife and facing the prospect of supporting employees over your husband. Just doesn’t seem like a viable solution.

            That’s why I suggested the “put him informally out to pasture but keep paying him” approach. It may not be fiscally feasible to pay someone for doing nothing; he might also be the type who is so focused on work that he refuses. But it’s worth at least considering as an option. Given the family dynamics involved, offering him a reduced role seems like a more viable solution than either (a) expecting his family to constantly contradict him 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year or (b) having his wife and father-in-law pursue legal action to force a buy-out.

            1. Not a Tax Guru*

              I agree that the family dynamic is very relevant.

              I just meant that even putting it aside, it is a difficult legal situation anyway. Many legal situations simply prohibit putting a problematic co-owner out to pasture.

            2. Dynamic Beige*

              That’s why I suggested the “put him informally out to pasture but keep paying him” approach.

              If he’s running around randomly interrupting meetings and generally being a nuisance, it sounds like he doesn’t have enough work of his own to do. He may not be comfortable taking money he doesn’t feel he’s “earned.”

              IMO, what he needs a big project. Something that only he can do. Compile a comprehensive list of all competitors, what their strengths and weaknesses are. Or develop a list of new clients, what the best way to approach them is. Write a procedures manual or research a new health insurance provider.

              And the employees need to know how to handle Fergus from his wife “Lucinda”. They all need to have a meeting, maybe at lunch outside of the office to brainstorm ways of reeling Fergus in. “I’m sorry Fergus, but Lucinda has asked me to prepare X for her by noon. May I go and ask her if I can push her deadline back so that I can perform this task for you?” “Lucinda was very clear that client A, B and C were of crucial importance today. Can we run this task by her and see how it can fit into our current workload?” kind of stuff. If he yells, he yells. It’s not pleasant to be yelled at and he’s a jerk and a bully if his only response is to yell in the hopes of getting immediate compliance.

      2. Artemesia*

        If he doesn’t have a controlling interest he doesn’t need to be bought out to be brought to heel. The other two owners are incompetent or unwilling to run the company. If not they could direct employees and direct him to not boss around employees outside of the agreed on tasks. They would also make sure he didn’t have hiring/firing authority. Their failure to deal makes everyone vulnerable. Anyone working there shouldn’t be thinking of ways to cope when the owners don’t — they should be thinking of ways to get out of there.

        1. MK*

          To begin with, he may well have a controlling interest for anything we know. Secondly, it’s not true that a non-majority stakeholder can just be brought to heel, or not necessarily. The articles of association (the initial partnership agreement) may well give him power, or there may be legal protection for minority shareholders.

          1. Artemesia*

            Perhaps but it is not a problem for the employees to deal with; the fact that the other owners don’t deal with it is a sad statement about them as managers. Everything shouts ‘get out of here.’

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            The power reserved to him, though, would normally be for board-level decisions, meaning that they could still fire him from a staff position (and his daily office presence) while still keeping him on the board. (Unless their partnership agreement is written really oddly.)

            1. MK*

              When you have a husband/wife/father-in-law starting a business, a really odd partnership agreement is a definite possibility. Or one that describes the board members’ duties so broadly that they can mean anything.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        At the risk of over simplifying, why in the heck can’t daddy and wife just talk to this guy? As in “you cannot and will not continue to act this way or well strip you of all your managerial duties”. Or, the sky way would be to bring in a consultant and have him discover what’s going on. And then followed by the talk/ultimatum.

        1. OP#1*

          They’ve tried the consultant route and in his head, he’s the expert so that doesn’t work. As for why they haven’t talked to him, I think that they have. He’s just such a force that I think some hard line will have to be drawn to really reach any resolution.

          1. PollyQ*

            I’d say the question for you, then, is how likely is this to change in the relatively (tolerably?) near future.

  9. Apollo Warbucks*

    #3 your sister can make a subject access request for her employment records under the data protection act and this includes paper based files as well as computer based records. There will be A data protection officer in the firm she should start with them. The details will be on the company web site and will cost £10 to get a copy of the records.

    She should also consider talking to the citizens advice bureau they give free impartial advice about employment law, it seems unlikely that there’s anything illegal in not giving your sister a job now even if they were keen on employing her before, but they can offer some advice about references requests.

    But Id start with Alisons advice of talking to her former colleagues in store to see what had been said about her and if she can set the record straight.

    And Good luck! I hope your sister sorts this out and gets a decent out come.

  10. SusanIvanova*

    #2 – So when it comes time for the annual review and the dreaded meets/exceeds expectations checkbox, does this manager grade on her own scale? Because I’d worry that even superstars will only “meet” expectations!

    #3 – Ouch. I’d think Littlefinger would be a better pseudonym than Tyrion here.

  11. OP #3*

    Hi everyone OP #3 here!

    Thanks so much for the advice Alison and readers!

    I have advised my sister to make a subject access request and she is going to do so. I have also contacted an employment lawyer acquaintance of mine for their advice on the whole thing. As it happens I do have a a minor update; my sister contacted Tyrion on facebook as they were, until this situation arose, very good friends. She asked him about what she had heard but didn’t tell him where she heard it. Tyrion was beyond furious. He told my sister that what she had heard wasn’t true at all and, because he doesn’t trust the company, he had recorded his investigation interview on his phone and said my sister was more than welcome to listen to it. Tyrion said he’d managed to be demoted rather than fired because he’d had a clean track record at the company before all this. He went on to say that the problem person in this situation is actually the new manager of my sister’s old store (my sister has admitted that she heard a few horror stories about the new manager before he arrived). We can discount Jon playing any deceptive part in this as he is actually mine and my sister’s younger cousin and he only told my sister what the new manager had told him on the advice of his parents when they discovered my sister was planning to reapply for her old job.
    My sister is planning to contact her old area manager to see if she can make some sense of what has gone on but in the meantime she will make the subject access request. As far a reference goes, the company do tend just to give dates of employment BUT when they receive reference calls they also apparently state whether they would re-employ that person or not – which is obviously the worry for my sister.
    She is lucky in that she is able to live at home with our mum expense-free for a little while until she finds a job!
    Thanks again everyone!

    1. Dangerfield*

      What a mess. I hope she manages to figure out what happens and that she has some legal recourse.

    2. tiffbunny*

      Hi Op #3 – As someone who deals with the Data Protection act semi-regularly from an employer perspective, please please PLEASE have your sister speak with the company BEFORE she submits the the request. The request will likely make the company close ranks and shut her out as much as possible in order to protect themselves.

      It’s potentially also serious overkill if there are people there she can speak/work with to get this resolved – and could result in her getting onto that blacklist if she wasn’t actually there already.

      People don’t understand that submitting something like this to a former or perspective employer is absolutely going to be taken as a hostile act – whether you intend it to be or not. (Oh, the stories I could tell!) I’m not saying it’s not worth doing in your sister’s case, but she should definitely consider if the gain is worth the cost, and if possible, submit it as a last step before further legal action.

      Good luck to her!

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        I’ve also dealt with the Data Protection Act from a ‘fulfilling requests’ side in the past, and in my organisation, it totally wasn’t seen as a hostile tool. Annoying, for sure, but not hostile. I think this depends on the size of the business and the number of requests they get – mine had a ridiculous number, so they were just an everyday occurrence, rather than something to get people’s backs up, except for the really fiddly ones that were from recruitment agencies, that generally got kicked out for being too personal/too much work. (I would imagine a big phone business is swimming with them too)

        1. Wheels*

          What you are describing One of the Sarahs sounds more like Freedom of Information Request to me. Only individuals can ask for a Subject Access Request. I have been involved in a few of both.
          I agree that she should speak to the area manager because I have seen subject access requests regarded as hostile or at least negative because they are a pain (looking in various places, redacting information about other people etc). Also, you have to know exactly what to ask which is much easier in the course of a conversation.

          1. OP #3*

            I’ve spoken to my sister re Subject Access Request/hostility etc and she is going to talk to her Area Manager first as she had a good relationship with her. We don’t think she realistically has any chance of being re-employed by the company at this point but we at least want to make sure she has a positive/neutral reference out of it. I’m pretty sure her old Area Manager would vouch for her personally but that’s up to my sister to broach.

            Thanks for all the advice re data protection, really appreciate it :)

            1. Mike B.*

              I agree that re-employment is highly unlikely, for one simple reason: she’s already left the job by her own choice. Unless she can conclusively prove her innocence in the matter, some doubt will always exist, and a large employer will rarely be inclined to take such chances when it can easily hire someone else. My own department has declined to rehire people for less compelling reasons.

              Had she been fired for this, perhaps there would be additional recourse…but I’m far from conversant in the applicable laws and policies, so I won’t continue on that point.

  12. AnonyMouish*

    #4, I totally get the scut work of filling in and unpredictable shifts, but depending on the size of the market you’re in, the fact that you’re getting on-air experience at all is huge! Many radio aspirants are 3-4 years in before they ever get to sit behind the mic.

    If I were you, I would stay put a little longer, and focus the next few months on building different kinds of reels. You may already have a kick-ass news reel, but do you also have one full of morning-show segments? Of alt-rock hosting? Of call-ins? Obviously all of this varies according to the type of station you’re at, but if you have the opportunity to fill air time when you’re covering other shifts, you can experiment with what you’re able to do with an eye toward building up a more diverse demo that will take you to more markets.

    1. Artemesia*

      No pro here but I have friends in radio and TV and this sounds like really good advice to me. It was always a giant big deal when they got air time early on and building the ‘reels’ is critical to advancement. If this job is giving air time regularly if sporadically then hanging on longer makes sense. If it is part time then having feelers out for full time also makes sense of course.

    2. Sherry*

      That advice is spot-on for radio, in my opinion. You’re lucky to be in a position where you’re gaining experience, so make the most of it. And nothing wrong with keeping your feelers out for higher-level or full-time work. If you land something, your manager and coworkers will cheer you on, not resent you. Good luck!

  13. blackcat*

    #5, is there any way that you can call up the urgent care facility and ask them if they give their info directly to the hotels/resorts? If they don’t, maybe you can encourage them to do so. I’d imagine a lot of vacationers first ask someone at the hotel where they should. If hotels have business cards to give out with the address and hours of the urgent care, I bet you’re less likely to get guests at those places calling you. It could drive up use of the urgent care (which could be good for them) and make your life easier. Win-win.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes, and I’d also confirm that they do in fact take children. For instance, in my area the urgent care that is a freestanding clinic, or the one in the hospital does take kids. There are also a few clinics that operate out of pharmacy/drugstores, and not all of them take children as patients, or have a very limited list of what they will test/treat for such as strep, pinkeye, etc.

      I also suspect people are calling the pediatrician rather than the clinic because they want a specific appointment time, not to wait in line, and because some insurance charges a higher co-pay for urgent care than a pediatrician’s office. But when you are traveling, sometimes you have to take what you can get, and in this case the option is urgent care or to keep trying for a different pediatrician’s office.

    2. Anon Moose*

      Also- is this policy posted? I.e. are there signs in the lobby or a notice on the website about the policy? It won’t stop all the inquiries- there will always be the people who will call/ come in anyway to see if you’ll make an exception but it may make it easier for the front end staff to just explain the policy that’s already posted everywhere. And if locals know it, they also may refer less people.

    3. Manders*

      I was thinking that if this is a small town with just a handful of resorts, it’s possible that the people who are giving out information to tourists are patients at OP’s clinic and think they’re doing OP a favor by referring more business to that clinic. Either way, it would be a good idea to try to get this information out to the people who would be advising tourists about where to go.

      1. myswtghst*

        This is a great point – there may be hotel concierges or first aid personnel at tourist attraction-type places who are referring potential patients unknowingly. If that’s the case, the OP could even call some of the larger local businesses to proactively let them know the office doesn’t do same day appointments for people who aren’t already patients there, and encourage them to direct people to the urgent care instead.

  14. Former Retail Manager*

    OP #2….what stood out to me was that the interviewer worked (past tense) at two previous places that said her expectations were too high. I’m sure she didn’t elaborate to indicate whether her employees felt her expectations were too high or management felt they were, or both. If you assume this woman is a professional who doesn’t job hop, then you’re looking at around 5-6 years minimum of her having high expectations that it seems no one can live up to. I don’t foresee that changing now. If you must take the job for financial reasons then you have to do what you have to do, but if there is any other way, I’d pass on this opportunity. I’ve worked for these types of managers before. It’s lose-lose all around.

    1. AF*

      I’d be very interested to know if she has examples of these “too high expectations.” I think “high” is a relative term, so if she could give a better sense of what this means in practice, it could help. I know the OP probably didn’t feel comfortable pressing (or maybe s/he did and just didn’t mention it in the letter), but perhaps a follow-up question might help clarify.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        This was my thought. Maybe she’s just a bit OCD and the right candidate would support and work well with that.

    2. Ama*

      Having worked for a few bosses who bragged about their “high” expectations, my suspicion is this woman is actually being told (by departing employees, HR, their own bosses) “you are asking too much for any one person to be able to do this job successfully” — but she’s interpreting that as a failure in other people rather than an adjustment she needs to make.

  15. the_scientist*

    Regarding #5, it’s pretty routine where I am (in Ontario) for family practices to not accept walk-in patients. That’s what walk-in clinics or urgent care centres are for. I am currently part of a family health group practice and they only accept patients within a defined catchment area…..and patients who register with the group are discouraged from visiting other clinics so they offer extended hours, same/next day appointments and drop-in appointments. Maybe this is a regional thing, but why can’t the office just put up notification saying “we are not a walk-in clinic”? Receptionists can tell people the same thing- not a walk-in clinic, here’s the phone number/address for urgent care. Here, this would be a complete non-issue since family doctors are not obligated to accept walk-in patients.

  16. plain_jane*

    #1 – what I’ve seen happen in other companies is that the problem co-owner was given a special task – like Head of Innovation, or New Product. Then they can be the big thinker all they want and have lunches with people, and they’re kept out of the day to day. And you can exclude them from meetings where they aren’t welcome – “we don’t want to waste your time by pulling you into the weeds on this one…”

    1. DoDah*

      I’ve seen this too. The difficulty is when problem co-owner thinks BIGTHINK project takes priority over all day-to-day projects. Staff end up getting pulled in multiple directions. At Oldjob, toxic co-owner husband would surprise attack us with his project needs to the point where people would avoid walking past his open office door. I used to call him the trap-door-spider.

      1. OP#1 Questioner*

        That’s exactly how he is. He’s mostly pulling people onto New Product projects and forcing them to be priority on that person’s plate. It’s impossible to redirect him on anything either, so the “we don’t want to waste your time on this” suggestion won’t work. Essentially, he thinks he can do whatever he wants regardless of whether it’s worth his/others time.

  17. Recruit-o-Rama*

    Op #2 Maya Angelou once said, ” when people show you who they are, believe them the first time”

    People who refer to themselves as “difficult to work with” are normally just making an excuse for their jerky behavior. You can have high expectations without being a total ass, there is a huge difference. Run away!

    1. RVA Cat*

      I assume HR has had to deal with a lot of turnover due to this manager. You’d think the company would figure out what the common denominator is. If she’s some kind of rainmaker on revenue or something – couldn’t she do that without managing anyone?

  18. TotesMaGoats*

    #4-You could just say that you only provide services to residents of “XX county” and have however many counties is appropriate. I guess that depends on where you are. Then soften it by providing a list of local urgent care facilities.

    Personally, while I understand the reasoning behind such policy, my family has benefited from local doctors seeing us on many occasions. We’ve had to see orthodontists when brackets popped off, ear infections, major allergic reactions. All before the time of urgent care facilities.

  19. Rusty Shackelford*

    Personally, while I understand the reasoning behind such policy, my family has benefited from local doctors seeing us on many occasions. We’ve had to see orthodontists when brackets popped off, ear infections, major allergic reactions. All before the time of urgent care facilities.

    Yes, but that’s kind of the point. There are urgent care facilities for these things now. (Well, not for the ortho, and I’d certainly go to an ER for a major allergic reaction.) Anything that doesn’t need a specialist or ER-level care can be handled at an urgent care facility. That’s why they’re there.

  20. Rusty Shackelford*

    For #5, I assume people are calling or walking in expecting a same-day appointment? If so, you could tell them that same-day appointments are only available to existing patients (which I assume is true, whether or not one is a tourist or a year-long resident), and then give them the info for the urgent care facility.

  21. em2mb*

    OP4, are your aspirations in commercial or public radio? If you’re trying to break into public radio but not having much luck finding a full-time job, I’d highly recommend you look at a fellowship. There’s a lot of shops offering 9- and 12-month paid fellowships now, many of which come with benefits as well. It’s a great way to bridge the gap between the skills you pick up as a part-time employee to being truly prepared for what’s expected of a full-timer.

  22. KR*

    As far as the doctor’s office, could you say that you only see established or long term patients there? I feel like a tourist coming in wanting to see a doctor is going to need an appointment for the same day or the next couple of days, but I know for my local primary care practice, you’re hard pressed to get an appointment in the next two weeks. They’re also very picky about trying to get you in to see *your* GP, not any doctor.

  23. Underemployed Erin*

    No 5 is horrible and put us in a terrible bind one time. While on a trip, I had a toddler with asthma issues who needed a nebulizer treatment that would have been fairly trivial for a doctor’s office to conduct. Instead, the doctor’s office referred us to an urgent care. The urgent care thought our child was too young to be treated by them and referred us to an ER so a medical problem that could have been solved in about 15 minutes took HOURS to resolve.

    I would recommend that in addition to the urgent care information, you give them the ER information. If possible, let people know if their kid is too little to be seen by urgent care.

  24. Kiki*

    Re #1 and apropos of nothing, I’m struck by how similar bad boss’ description is to the description of Steve Jobs as a boss.

  25. Fawnling*

    #2 – My mother is proud of being hard to work for and hard to work with. She owns a business that I used to work for and my self-confidence continues to suffer years after I stopped working there. Her current employees are like nervous birds that scatter for safety when she comes around.

    People like this will drain your soul, so if you do accept the job don’t forget to take care of you.

  26. Hello*

    #2 – I believe that sometimes employers turn off prospects on purpose – so they won’t want the job.

  27. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #5 – Another thing about seeing patients in an office – when the patients are from out-of-area — yes , there are concerns about getting paid, to be sure, but also if they come from a community where they don’t believe in vaccination or conventional health care (until their kid gets sick, of course…)

  28. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #4 – keep in mind that the radio industry is SHRINKING. Satellite programming, automation, and stations dumping local talent for “network programming” (Savage, Beck, etc.) are frequent. Know that industry well …

  29. OP #2 here!*

    Thank you for all your feedback and insight!

    It has been very interesting to read all the comments and things I had not even thought of!
    Yes Dan, I can only hope the pay is commensurate with expectations! HR actually told me the salary range for this job(which is rare and never happens-they usually dodge the question), so I know what I would need to ask for.
    Susan – yes I didn’t even think of annual reviews and how whatever my goals are will be ‘impossible’ to reach with such high expectations.
    I do feel as though it will be a lose lose situation and after reading all of the helpful comments, feel even more so. I’ve had many bad managers in the past and I don’t think I can stomach another one, who could potentially be one of the worst so far. I agree with other commenters that people like this are near impossible to please and never, ever realize the problem actually lies with them and not other people and it’s also impossible to make them see that.
    Hello-interesting comment about them using this to turn off prospects on purpose. I had not thought of that.
    I have a lot of thinking to do, if I even get the offer! :)

    Thanks again everyone for taking the time to respond!

  30. Fluffer Nutter*

    Ain’t no crazy like family owned business crazy. I made the mistake 2x in a row. #2 crazy I couldn’t quit on the spot as I was getting a divorce. First day, co-worker tells me “don’t ever leave any food on your desk”. Moneybags old uncle walked around the office taking bites of anyone’s unattended lunch. He also sucked the cream of out the $.25 crap grocery store Long Johns and put them back in the box on Donut Friday. The tenants were always yelling at me b/c the [married] male partners ( brothers, Moneybags uncle, and a SIL) were buddies with a notorious strip club owner and had a “butt pad” (yes that’s what the worker bees called it), complete with hideous mirrors above the bed and white carpet on the walls [think disco Love Boat] in the complex. So, the strippers were always parking in the tenant’s paid spots for rendezvous of differing lengths. OP, I’m biased but I think you might need to get out.

  31. I'm Not Phyllis*

    I once had a direct manager who said she was “hard to work for” and that her expectations were “too high” as well. (I was already in my position and she was the newby – if that hadn’t been the case I’d never have accepted the job!) She was right – she was very disorganized, impossible to please and expected nothing less than my dedicating my entire life to her service. I left at the first job offer I got (which turned out to be a great move, by the way – no regrets!).

    Believe people when they tell you things like that. It’s often feedback they’ve received in the past. Alison is perfectly right that if you need this job you should go ahead and accept it anyway – but do it with eyes wide open.

  32. sara*

    Wow, people are being so harsh to OP #5! I feel like it is pretty clear from the question that he/she is something more along the lines of a receptionist/front desk person who is dealing with turning people away, not the doctor/owner who is in charge of setting policy! I get that people don’t like this policy, but the question was how to share this information, not whether or not it’s a good policy (I mean, the OP may in fact disagree with it!)

    I like the idea of posting the information on your website/Yelp which is likely where people are getting information on your office to start with, as well as sharing it with the concierge desks at the major local resorts. This won’t eliminate everything, but hopefully would at least cut down on the requests. Beyond that, I think it can be helpful to provide at least a short justification for the reasons behind the policy, if your doctor is okay with that — maybe something along the lines of “Unfortunately we aren’t taking temporary patients because we have to reserve same day appointments for our current patients.” or “Unfortunately we aren’t able to take out-of-state insurance because of limitations in our billing department.” (Or whatever the reason is.)

  33. Vicki*

    Re #3,”In the U.S., the employer wouldn’t be legally required to speak to a former employee as part of this kind of investigation.”

    Alison, are you saying that a company is allowed to conduct an “investigation” that can besmirch the reputation of a former employee and/or decide that the former employee is in the wrong — on something like a security breach! — and they can do so without ever talking to that employee???

    If so, we need some serious overhaul of employment laws here.

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