I got myself into a predicament and need your advice. Until yesterday (I got fired), I worked in the office at a healthcare facility. I was given access to both the office manager’s and the administrator’s passwords for my job. We were recommended to read patient charts to keep abreast of things.
I only work part time and on my days off I would read patient records, which is accessible online (kind of a dumb setup if you ask me). Anyway, I didn’t know that reading patient records is a serious offense and I was fired. How do I answer the job interview question why was I fired from my previous job?
I hate that I’m going to have this stigma attached to me, but I honestly had no clue that this was against the health regulations (we were encouraged to read records). I had no previous training in the medical field and some of my current training went by the wayside because I was only part time and they initially hired me to work the weekend.
You were a great help to me last time and I hope you can help me again. I’m sorry to bother you since, you’re limiting your responses. Any advice would be extremely grateful. I can’t seem to find any help online.
I’m so sorry you’re going through this. And yes…while I can’t answer all the questions I get any more, I do feel really bad for you. And so I’ll share a few thoughts. (Hang in there. You’ll be ok. )
First, this is a lesson you will remember a long time and that’s a good thing in case you ever work in a hospital or health facility again. (I’ll explain in a second.) But please don’t worry…the stigma will go away.
There is a Federal law called HIPAA that, among other things, protects the privacy of our health records. Most major computer systems are available online now, JoJo, but the protection is that you need a secure password to get in. And quite honestly, if the nursing home were operating from a security-first standpoint, you should have been given your own password with limited access – and NOT passwords assigned to others. These records are private and no one except people directly concerned with treatment should be reading them. I would be appalled if I thought just anyone was reading my health records in their spare time! (I just want you to really understand what happened here.)
No question this company didn’t handle security as well as they could have. But considering the position you held there, reading private personal records while off duty is simply not ok. If you really get that and learn from it, I think this is a lesson that will serve you well for the rest of your career.
BUT…all that said…I don’t want you to beat yourself up or feel bad. We all make mistakes (especially ones we weren’t properly advised about, as in your case); and we all move on. I’ve screwed up so many times I can’t count it on my fingers!
Maybe someone else wants to chime in here, but for me the best way to handle this is by really knowing in your heart you’re a good employee and will do your best for your next employer. In the interview, all I would say when asked is something like “I made a mistake and I learned from it.” (Being honest without going into details helps when they do reference checking. A good employer will like that you didn’t lie.)
Then just quickly move on to explain that you believe mistakes occasionally happen and the best thing we can do is learn from them and then work extra hard never to let it happen again – and you intend to do that in this new job. Maybe even give them another example from a job or elsewhere where you turned a mistake into something really good.
You’ll be ok JoJo. Don’t hold anger or resentment about all this. Least of all toward yourself. Brush yourself off and find the next job. Each mistake makes us stronger. Just show the most positive, pleasant, fully-engaged side of yourself when you interview and you’ll get another chance.
In case you want to read more:
To read JoJo’s original May 5, 2009 comment and all the follow-ups:
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