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9 Considerations for Any Job-Seeking Parent

Whether you’re a parent looking for a new job or a parent who recently graduated with a healthcare degree, deciding where to work can be heavily impacted by having kids.

However, if you don’t have kids now but want to plan for it, this article may still provide important workplace considerations. It definitely makes travel therapy less of an option, even though you may still dream about it. It’s already overwhelming and scary looking for work, and being a parent can add to the stress.

Know that you are not alone.

While some of these may be questions for an interview, it is also important to approach which questions you ask strategically, so that you show interest in the job itself aside from the benefits.

It would be difficult to ask all of these questions in an interview and would likely come across as unprofessional. Many of these questions could be answered through an internet search.

To begin, it’s good practice to survey the employer’s website for any job. Take a look at the “careers” section or scroll to the bottom of the home page where many websites list their “for professionals” section. There you are likely to find answers related to general benefits and insurance coverage. Additionally, you can ask to schedule a discussion with an HR representative.

The questions posed in this article are meant to be a bit comprehensive in the specific considerations of new work, as a parent. You can mark off what you can find online first, identify which questions you may or may not have thought of, and hopefully be able to add whatever you specific family considerations you have.

9 considerations for any job-seeking parent

1. How does the employer value family?

This may not be the first work place value to come to mind, but understanding how your employer values family life compared to your own is worth considering.

To do this you can check to see if they have family days, potlucks, other events which can indicate how accustomed the organization is to parents. If there are other parents, this may be helpful for trading shifts or getting off early to attend your kids’ sports events.

In addition to the concrete considerations of family values, it is also valuable to have emotional support. Lunch table discussions regarding potty training, new shoes, sports, behavior, and diet, can be especially helpful in a rehab setting where tips and tricks are coming from personal and professional experience.

2. Are there family benefits and insurance coverage options available?

Single member versus family coverage becomes important when a family is in the consideration. Sometimes, smaller companies don’t have the ability to cover the families with their employee health insurance. This may mean larger hospitals and organizations are a better place to start if you are to be the primary source of insurance for your family.

It’s important to check the co-pay cost per visit and whether there is dental coverage for those young, injury-prone children’s teeth. This can be especially important when dealing with “new-parent syndrome” where it can cost several hundred dollars just to have the clinic check your child’s unusual rash, which will happen.

Often employers give 30 days post hire to enroll in their health insurance plan, which if missed may mean waiting until their next enrollment period comes.

3. What is the Paid-Time-Off (PTO), sick leave, and FMLA process?

Sick kids, flu virus, or pediatric work sound familiar? Does PTO “roll-over” and what process takes place to request it? Flexibility can be so important for families and knowing how to prepare can depend upon the employer’s specific work policies. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) generally applies to companies of 50 employees and above and all government agencies which would include most school-based work.

However, there may be additional criteria and qualifications. Typically, FMLA does not begin until 12 months of employment. Here’s more info: https://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/employeeguide.pdf

4. Are there stippen or childcare options?

The cost of daycare can often put into question whether work is even worth it if the cost is going to cancel out the benefit. Some hospitals and organizations may or may not offer childcare services. This can be especially important for dual income families.

On-site childcare options makes travel time more feasible if you want to live a distance from work. It can be rather helpful to have your employer offer daycare for both travel time and a possible discount.

Go ahead and throw the salt over your shoulder – one modern day folklore is to ask to see the daycare fridge. If there are many bottles of antibiotics, you may find yourself with a sick kid more days than is worth it. Consider scheduling a walkthrough of the daycare first.

5. Is there a sign-on bonus or relocation budget?

Kids means more stuff, particularly those large plastic pieces of equipment like swings, highchairs, gates and so forth. Do not be afraid to look into the relocation budget, depending upon how critical it is to you, this may have to be a question asked.

Policies differ, some employers only offer refunds for receipt based purchases like U-haul and gas, while others offer a flat-rate sum. Knowing these options are critical to determining whether a relocation is worth it. If there is a sign on bonus or relocation budget, double check what the terms and conditions are.

6. What are the housing options and are they near or far?

Whether you are considering different schools or travel time, a good hospital may be difficult to work at in metropolitan areas if you’re trying to pick your kids up from school or daycare. In some locations, apartment costs go down by several hundred dollars 30 miles out of a big city, yet that 30 miles becomes an hour of driving with traffic.

This is an area smaller employers may have the upper hand for family workers. In addition, a follow-up consideration is whether or not there are public transportation options or discounts.

7. Are there scholarship or family university credit opportunities?

This can often be missed, even after already working for a company, and is worth looking into even if you are not looking for a new employer.

University hospitals often provide scholarships and credits to family members of employees. There may be specific details such as “only for medical related careers.”

This may apply to families with older kids more, but could come in handy if you or your spouse are considering going back to school.

8. What is the “ramp-up” period and typical after-work hours required?

Knowing ramp-up expectations can be especially valuable as a new graduate. This is where mentoring programs need to be carefully considered. Mentoring programs or quicker ramp-up periods to a full-caseload may require after work hours, important to consider if picking kids up is going to be a factor.

However, the stress of having kids may make a mentoring program all the more useful. Unlike the graduate school days where pulling all-nighters to get a paper done was no-big-deal, you may find yourself unable to do extra work or study at home.

A slower “ramp-up” period or mentoring program can be helpful for keeping the majority of learning on the job and minimizing the homework.

9. Can weeks be front loaded and are there weekend shifts?

If a spouse is going back to school, or depending on family availability for childcare, being able to shift work hours can be helpful. However, the opposite might be true, that specifically NOT working weekends is important where many big hospitals typically require 1 weekend shift per month for example. Here, smaller employers may have the advantage typically following traditional business hours which match daycare or school hours.

Hopefully these questions gave a good starting point for you to identify what your specific family needs are as well as what to consider when looking for a new job. Every family is different but can share in similar experiences and needs.

Are there any other questions you found important?

Check out our rehab jobs at CovalentCareers.com. Find the ones that are perfect for parents!


About Grant Mitchell

Grant Mitchell
Grant is a 2016 Master's of Occupational Therapy (MOT) graduate working in acute inpatient mental health for young adults with additional per-diem work in acute rehab for physical disability. He loves to read, write, and learn, sharing his treatment ideas for mental health on MillennialOT.com.

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