Healthcare executives defend vacation time

Several years ago, Sachin Jain, MD, decided to take a two-week vacation. He received a call from his boss that he still thinks about to this day, Dr. Jain — now the president and CEO of SCAN Group and SCAN Health Plan — wrote in a Sept. 23 LinkedIn post. 

About a week into Dr. Jain's time off, his boss called to recommend he take shorter vacations in the future. Some things were not getting done since colleagues couldn't move forward without Dr. Jain's approval, the boss said. 

Dr. Jain said the colleagues had not directly expressed this concern to him, and he later learned that the issue in question was not really that urgent. The time, meant to be restful, was somewhat soured by that call. 

It was also the first time he'd taken a vacation in more than two years. 

"I always think about how often no one notices when you're grinding away for a company or cause," Dr. Jain wrote. "Take your vacations. Don't be a martyr. Almost no one notices your martyrdom."

Dr. Jain's story struck a nerve with other leaders, and now has more than 1,560 likes and 125 comments. 

"The one bank that should be empty upon your resignation or retirement is your PTO (vacation days) bank," commented Edward Marx, former chief information officer at Cleveland Clinic, now CEO of his own healthcare advisory firm. 

Jared Sullivan, who most recently served as chief operating officer of CareMore Health and Aspire Health at Anthem before embarking on a "transition sabbatical," also commended Dr. Jain for the post. 

"I say over and over again until most are likely sick of hearing it...It's All About People. Purpose driven leaders with high EQ get it....beware of those leaders or cultures who don't get it or say it in word only," Mr. Sullivan wrote. 

Kristin Howard, senior associate general counsel and state lead attorney for Elevance Health in Ohio, chimed in with her own anecdote. When she was a young attorney, a colleague told her the story of "Dave," a man who served his company for 40 years and was well-respected. When he retired, the company held a big office party with balloons, catered food and a life-sized cardboard cutout of Dave. The next day, his office was being painted over, and the cutout was in the dumpster.

"In that moment, my colleague said he felt deep regret for all of the school plays and soccer games, family vacations, and personal care opportunities he'd missed for work," Ms. Howard wrote. "I've never forgotten this story."

Read the full LinkedIn post here

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