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work and full time school - florida

by Erwin
(Miami, FL)

I have worked in a dialysis clinic for over 4 years. I got in the nursing program (full-time generic in Miami-Dade College) beginning of this year. I'm finding it really difficult juggling full-time school and full-time (40 hrs) work. Since I started at work, the clinic worked with my schedule. I didn't deal directly with patients so as long as I was able to do the job in a timely manner, I came to work when I can, I basically had my own schedule. This flexible work schedule really worked well and didn't interfere with school when I was doing my pre-requisites. But now, I'm in the nursing program and I'm finding it difficult to juggle not only going to school and working but also time for studying to pass school (cause what's the point of working and going to school if I fail my classes). The program has four(4) semesters. I managed to get through the first semester with a B average. I'm in the second semester now during the summer which is really hectic. I'm halfway done and have a C average so far. But my lack of time for studying is catching up and I'm really struggling being prepared for the classes and upcoming tests. This semester I have 2 days of clinicals which are 7-1/2 hours each day. Next semester, I'm gonna have 2 days of clinicals which are 12 hours each. I don't know how I'm gonna get my work schedule with next semesters class schedules.

The beginning of this semester, I explained my class schedule to my employer and asked to get my hours cut down to 32 hours and have someone cover the rest of my job. She agreed. But the huge amount of workload for class, not only is my study time affected but now my work performance has been effected - or so she says. I got written up last week for poor job performance.

I'm a reuse technician and I clean the patient's dialyzer so they can reuse it again. The less I fail, the better. But this year, my fail rate has increased. I have told them that it's because they have stopped using Heparin which is a drug they give to the patient to prevent clotting, but they told me that not using Heparin is not the issue, but how and the time I'm reprocessing the dialyzers. Since I started working 4 years ago, I have reprocessed the dialyzers the day after. I didn't have a problem with my failure rate. But for the past year, they have been trying to not use Heparin and that's when issues with my failure rate has increased. We have had numerous discussions about this but she always replies how not using Heparin is not the issue. She does state that how the patient care technicians recirculate the dialyzers increase clotting and failure, but continues to mostly insist that it's the next day vs. same day reprocessing on my part that's the main cause of clotting and failure. Again, I didn't have an issue of that for 3 years, and only when Heparin is not being used that this comes up, but they don't wanna correlate that - and we go around and around on our disagreement.

Along with being written up, she has assinged hours for me to work, saying that it fits my class schedule and i can reprocess the dialyzers the same day. This is a difficult transition cause I have had my "own schedule" for 4 years with no issue. The things I need to do outside work and school hours now have to be fitted to my work schedule when it was the other way around before. She had me sign the write-up regarding how we discussed my poor performance and ways to correct the issue which is by setting my hours and processing the dialyzers the same day. She said I could write a comment but I was just tired of going around
in circles (about why my hours and time of reprocessing wasn't the issue and it was the lack of use of the Heparin) that I just signed and didn't comment... and looking back now, might have been a big mistake, cause our other discussions about the issue weren't documented, only last weeks write-up...

Ok, I hope I didn't confuse you but you wrote, the more the better... so the issues...
- it's so hard to find time for studying while working (even after cutting down my hours)....
- it's so hard to adjust my other personal activities/schedules cause I was given a work schedule to follow after not having one for 4 years...
- they're not wanting to hear the real reason why we have a high clotting failure rate which is not using Heparin so they adjusted my time, but I just found out that they're using Heparin "under the table"... i feel this a bit shady cause they can argue to their higher ups that since i started reprocessing the dialyzers the same day, the failure rate has now decreased - but they will not mention that at the same time they're using Heparin unofficially (and I have no solid proof only that my co-workers told me they recently started on heparin again)...
-and next semester i don't know what to do with the 2 12-hour clinicals i have for school...

i've thought about just not complying and come to work as I use to and not follow the schedule and hopefully get fired... will that be better?!? please tell me what is the best action for me... thank you in advance for your help...

Hi Erwin,

I thank you for the details. It enables me to focus on YOUR situation, but I don't think you're going to be pleased with how I see it:)

Not documenting on the write-up was in fact a mistake. You might try writing your response and asking her to add it to your personnel file as your comments to the write-up .. I would.

Here's the problem Erwin. When it comes to unemployment benefits .. school must take a back seat if you want to collect .. unless it's "state approved training". Wanna be a truck driver?

Let's say you are fired for performance and manage to actually be allowed benefits and retain benefits. You still won't be able to collect because you are limiting your availability for full-time work. You are doing that now. Not good.

Florida will disqualify a person for leaving work to attend school. It is not considered to be a quit with good cause because unless there is a provision stating otherwise .. Florida requires that leaving work must be attributable to the work.

Now I understand you may think that because they have cooperated with your schedule in the past that their unwillingness now would be seen as a change in the conditions of employment, but I don't think so, or I at least think it's a very outside chance. They will just say they had been trying to work with you, but it was affecting the quality of your work.

If you do not comply, that will definitely be "willful misconduct". So try to get something into your personnel record about your conversations with management about the Heparin. Otherwise they will try to prove "neglect of duties" and that will spell doom for you.

Under the best of circumstances, a person who is attending school and working may (it varies state to state) collect unemployment, but quitting because it is interfering with school, although considered a good personal reason, is not good enough to collect unemployment. It lacks the attribution to the employer.

Florida does not necessarily deny benefits to a person who is attending school and lost their job through no fault of their own .. as long as they are seeking work and not limiting their availability for work, but they first must be eligible for unemployment on the "merits".


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