Bradley R. on December 10, 2018
I am a 37 yo M physician with brain cancer. I have not worked fulltime since my diagnosis 5 years ago, but my goal is to return to work in the next 6 months. I have worked on medical volunteer jobs intermittently over the last several years.
1. I'm concerned about the interpretation of my period not working - this is a big red flag in medicine. I was between jobs at the time of my diagnosis.
2. I will require some time accommodations (I can do everything I need to but at about 75% speed) and I'm not sure how to approach this when applying for a job.
3. I've been told that it is probably best not to reveal my cancer diagnosis to a new employer, but how is that possible given my first 2 question?
Nicole Franklin, MPH
Dec 21, 2018
Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:
Thanks for writing to us. It’s great that you’re starting to feel ready to return to full-time work again! You’re thinking about and asking important questions as you think about next steps and delve into the job search process.
One method that we 've found to be successful for fielding questions about gaps in employment is called “The Swivel.” It involves addressing a question asked by an interviewer, and then redirecting (or swiveling) the conversation towards your actual goals and desire for the job. When planning your swivel, you want to come up with concise, credible answers to the gap question and practice it until you’re comfortable with it. The most important thing you can do is be prepared by having practiced interviewing, so you can sell your skills and show them that you are the best for the job. Remind yourself of your accomplishments (including all of your medical volunteering), none of which should be overshadowed by taking time off. For more info on “The Swivel”: https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/looking-for-work/interviewing/the-swivel. We also have strategies for dealing with a resume gap: https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/looking-for-work/resume-cover-letter/resume-gap.
In response to your question about revealing your diagnosis, please know that in general you are not legally obligated to disclose information about your health to your prospective or current employer. However, since you are seeking access a reasonable accommodation (a more flexible schedule) under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), you might have to disclose a medical condition—although not necessarily an exact diagnosis. You may choose not to disclose during the interview process and instead wait until you receive an offer to request an accommodation or even wait until you have started the job.
One thing to note is that the ADA applies to eligible job applicants and employees of a private employer with fifteen or more employees, or a state or local government of any size, so you might want to think about the size of the medical facility when reviewing positions. Some states’ laws protect individuals working for employers with fewer than 15 employees. Our partner, Triage Cancer, has a Quick Guide to Cancer-Related Laws by State available at http://triagecancer.org/resources/quickguides.
Although disclosing is ultimately a personal decision, I would recommend watching our webinar to get a better understanding on issues around disclosure: http://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/community/videos/bwc/2016-webinar-online. Our recorded Working Through Treatment webinar also has some useful advice on arranging useful accommodations in the workplace: http://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/community/videos/bwc/2016-webinar-treatment
Some other resources that I recommend checking out are:
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com or 646-929-8032.
Nicole Franklin, MPH
Manager of Programs
Cancer and Careers
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