It’s so hard to talk about work.  There’s the intentional vagueness, the fear of being identifiable, or identified, the desire to at once expose the daily insanity and yet still keep my job at the end of the day.  I try.  For my own sanity, I try.

Changes are afoot at work, and responsibilities are being shifted around.  Certain positions have been, shall we say, outsourced, so we’re all struggling to put the pieces back together and fill in the blanks left by those essential players on our team.  While the parent agency feels the important duties have been re-delegated appropriately, they have not.  Other parts of the job have been abandoned as non-essential, or they took on a wait-and-see approach — we’ll just wait and see if/who picks them up.  Yesterday at an IEP meeting, we finally found out.  No one did.  We sat across the table from the person who is supposed to have taken over the bulk of the responsibilities and listened as she told us it was on our shoulders.  And then we exchanged a few words.  Which is very responsible to be doing in front of a parent.

“Where’s the folder you guys always prepare?”

“Um, the woman who did that is no longer here.  We though it would be your job now.”

“No, if it’s going to be done, it would be you guys.”

Awesome.  And the shit hit the fan.  Which leads me to the bigger point.  On the continuum of slack-picking-up, where do I lie?  I noticed last year, when we were short another speech pathologist at my old center, my caseload seemed to grow and grow.  They weren’t any closer to hiring anyone else, and yet angry parents whose children weren’t receiving services due to our shortage were being placated so they wouldn’t sue.  Placated by having Junior assigned to my caseload.  Which grew.  And grew.  Beyond recommendations for a center-based speech pathologist of any experience, let alone a first-year clinical fellow.  In 3 days of center-based treatment per week, my caseload maxed out at 38 children.  It is recommended that a caseload for a center-based clinician not exceed 50 children per week, or 10 per day, or 30 in my 3 days.  Oops.  And who picked up the slack?  Me.  Who prepared for 100% of the scheduled IEPs despite being on campus 60% of the time?  Me.  And why did I do it?  Because I felt the children needed to be seen.  I didn’t want to punish them for the lack of speech therapists.

Imagine my intense jealousy when I found out they now have 8 days of speech therapists assigned to the same caseload I was drowning under in 3 days.  Well, I guess the new hires finally came through. Grrr.

And now, at my new center, we’re seeing the thousand little jobs our former coworker did, and we’re all wondering who is going to do them.  If we all pick up the slack, and take on things that aren’t in our job description, then the center may run smoothly, and we’ll feel her absence less keenly.  On the other hand, if we stand by and let the pieces fall where they may, it will hopefully send a message to the parent agency that we cannot do this by ourselves.  We need the support system we used to have.

I’m all for working together to make the best of what we have.  But what if what we have is not enough?

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