Work and RA - Career Progression (anon)

My new employer was very helpful, as they made it clear they valued me and wanted me to stay with them. However, I feel that the disease has created a slight feeling of being trapped in my current job. RA has affected my career progression

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Background

At the time of my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis approximately 5 years ago, I was working as an outpatient musculoskeletal physiotherapist for two days a week, 48 weeks of the year, whilst raising my young children. The nature of my job combined with my condition meant that my joints could not cope with the regular joint pressures needed in my role. My employer was not very supportive and did not make attempts to facilitate changes in my workplace to help me continue with my job.

Job change

Faced with such extreme challenges, it seemed inevitable that I would have to leave my job. By chance, and very fortunately, a colleague who performed a different role was leaving, and I took the opportunity to take over that role. My employer helped me retrain for the role, however remained largely unsupportive in the workplace.

For family reasons, I then moved jobs. I told my new employer about my condition after being offered the role. They were immediately far more supportive, sending me to Occupational Health and facilitating me to work in conditions that were suitable for me.

Support from employer

Due to my RA symptoms, especially the fatigue that is a result of the disease, I found it difficult to work the same hours as I had previously. Despite compromises at home, such as hiring a cleaner and my husband working reduced hours, I requested a reduction of hours at work. My employer was very helpful, as they made it clear they valued me and wanted me to stay with them. They facilitated me working reduced hours and having a work pattern that gave me a week off every 7-8 weeks, working 42 weeks a year.

This proved to be very important as, coming up to the week break, the fatigue increased substantially which would result in a flare. The week break is vital for me to be able to continue working permanently. By doing this, I have been able to stay at work and in the career that I trained to do.

Summary

I feel that the disease has created a slight feeling of being trapped in my current job. I know other workplaces are extremely unlikely to facilitate people with a long-term condition as well as my current employer, so although this means I can be at work and feel relatively well, it brings with it a feeling of being "stuck" where I am. The tricky choice of potentially going for job progression but regaining work place issues with my RA, vs staying where I am for the next 20yrs, is hard emotionally.  The disease has also affected my career progression, as I feel like I could and would have progressed further had I not been diagnosed with RA.

- Anonymous