May 2, 2008

elevate: Answering the tough questions

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Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

Question: I accrue 20 days of vacation per year, but the staffing situation in our department is such that most of us can't take more than five or six days of vacation. At Vanderbilt, after you accrue two years worth of vacation, you forfeit all additional accruals until you use some of the accrued hours. It's use it or lose it, and I've been prevented from using it. Why can't I at least be paid for vacation days that I'm unable to use?

Answer: I sympathize with your situation, and we certainly need to find the solution. It looks like the real issue here is that you've been prevented from taking vacation to which you are entitled.

I can understand that occasionally some of us might lose a vacation day or two. This is a place where people are committed to their patients, their jobs are important and their loyalty to their co-workers is very high.

But if losing vacation days is chronic, we have a problem.

Our workplace demands our best at every moment; it's fast paced and pretty intense, whether we work in patient care, education, administration or research. We function best when we can periodically put work aside and relax. It's good for you and good for all of us.

If you have been denied the ability to take more than six vacation days in a year, we need to fix that at once.

If your supervisor is unable to help, please contact HR Employee Relations for assistance, 322-7259.

— Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs

Employees with questions they would like to see answered in this column can send them to the elevate Web site, (click on “Ask a tough question”).