Shitty Work Thing

A … thing … for healthcare administrators braving their way through shitty work things

Photo by John Such on Unsplash

Airfares in and out of Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport are relatively inexpensive.

That’s good because that’s where you are.

But you’re not on the strip, nor touring the Hoover Dam, nor hiking in the Grand Canyon.

No, you’re at Clark County’s most infamous tourist attraction: America’s largest landfill.

You’re standing on a mountain of garbage in the middle of the 2,200 acre Apex Landfill with nothing but trash all around you. There are the remnants of bulldozed refuse for as far as you can see. There are neon-colored puddles of liquid at every step. There are so many birds they block the sun.

And that stench! It’s enough to take your breath away.

Standing in the middle of America’s largest landfill wondering how the heck you got here is what it feels like to go through a shitty work thing as a healthcare administrator. People suck. Bosses are assholes. The job’s requirements are out of touch.

You’d love to sit down and rest: trash. No matter how high you try to climb: still standing on trash. The path out: through lots of trash.

It’s lonely. It’s depressing. It’s difficult.

Time and again I’ve seen healthcare administrators get stuck in a rut at work and struggle to climb out — including myself.

This is My Story

Her assistant phoned and asked for my presence. I immediately made my way to her office. We exchanged hollow pleasantries.

“Have you seen the movie Sophie’s Choice?,” she started.

“No,” I responded. It wasn’t the first time she’d attempted to use the premise of a movie to communicate something important. So I knew something was coming.

“It’s the story of a Holocaust survivor.”


She got to the point.

“Sophie arrives at Auschwitz with her two children. The Nazis force her to choose which child gets to live — her son or her daughter. She agonizes over the decision and ultimately chooses her son.”

That’s dark, I thought to myself.

It was the beginning to the end of something that just six months prior felt like a remarkable opportunity.

It was the beginning to the end of something that just six months prior felt like a remarkable opportunity.

The department I was leading had been eagerly gobbled up by an organizational restructuring as part of a shiny new unit created to carry out an exciting new strategy. I was excited! The forefront of change! A career-altering moment!

But a week into the new world I was ask-told to take leadership over a dysfunctional department in addition to my cutting-edge program responsibilities. “I think you have capacity,” she said.

A few days later I followed with a dutiful yes after convincing myself of the “opportunity.”

But it was too much. The problems on one side kept me from the opportunities on the other. It was an exhausting six months of slow progress, limited access to leadership, murky communication, 30+ direct reports, limited HR support, non-existant IT support, angry colleagues, torturous meetings, missed (unrealistic) deadlines, and even a co-worker backstabbing.

My reward was this excruciating conversation.

“Drew, you have a Sophie’s choice to make,” she presented, “You must choose between this amazing opportunity (it wasn’t), working for a great boss (they weren’t), and doing important things for the company (it was a disaster) or going to work in an area you’re passionate about (true), as part of a new department (uh oh), for someone who until this moment has been your peer (backstabbers are never pleasant to work for).”

“And since both of those leaders are at the director level you’re going to have to become a manager.”

Six months of landfill walking had climaxed with a Choose Your Own Demotion Adventure.

A Shitty Work Thing is Difficult and You Need a Little Help

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

It wasn’t supposed to feel like this. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It wasn’t supposed to be this.

But here you are.

Shitty work things are shitty because they get in the way of doing good work — which is the reason we got into healthcare administration to begin with. Being a healthcare administrator is already hard enough. Add a shitty work thing on top and the job can quickly become undoable.

So I created a … thing … for healthcare administrators braving their way through shitty work things. It’s called, wait for it … Shitty Work Thing for Healthcare Administrators.

A shitty work thing is just that: a prolonged period of job dissatisfaction stemming from something shitty at work.

Shitty Work Thing for Healthcare Administrators is designed to help you move through it. It’s part reflection, part inspiration, and part motivation. Shitty Work Thing for Healthcare Administrators delivers twenty emails over twenty work days to help you focus on the work, tune out the noise, and find a path out.

That’s what we’re after: getting to the other side. Because there is a path out of this landfill.

This experience — this right now — is something you’ll learn from. And you’ll get to apply what you learned to new situations with new employees, new bosses, new projects, and new anything else that needs to be managed. Going to work will become enjoyable again.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

My friends made it through shitty work things. My colleagues made it through shitty work things. Employees that worked for me made it through shitty work things. I’ve made it through shitty work things.

As in the cases of all those, you just have this difficult task before you: getting through yours.

They did it. We did it. I did it. You can do it.

And the twenty emails of Shitty Work Thing for Healthcare Administrators were crafted to help you do just that.

Learn More: Shitty Work Thing for Healthcare Administrators