It’s really crazy how ignorant some otherwise-intelligent people can act around chronic illness. Even people working in supposedly progressive health institutions. Here’s a note I got lately from a woman in Germany (with an English mum), who lost her job in a medical lab over her diabetes. Yes, she did have some issues with hypoglycemia. But she feels her employers knee-jerk reacted, never giving her a chance. Her story:
I am 37
years old and diabetes hit me when I was five, so 32 years makes me quite an
expert! To top this, I studied medicine and recently I was working as an intern
at a big lab.
On the occasion of the events, which
occurred at work, I wanted to use the chance to communicate that an equal treatment of people with diabetes is unfortunately not given everywhere. I am an
intern in a large laboratory in Ingelheim, Germany, or better said, I was. On the
15 of September, my contract ended and although personnel requirements exist, a
new doctor was hired for October, and they didn’t offer me an extended
In contrast, my two colleagues, who began the professional training
approximately at the same time, were hired on. That is, both were hired after they
terminated their professional training and took their holidays, which they had
saved up. They were then financially secured up to the board
certification as a specialist in laboratory medicine, and afterwards they were
transferred to a “safe unlimited employer-employee relationship.” Both of them were paid as specialists even
before passing their exams.
In contrast, my contract ended on the
15 of September, and I am now unemployed (disadvantaged)
without prospect of finding employment before
my board certification, currently job searching and preparing for my exam. Three not-insignificant loads together.
Surely they never told me directly into the
face that I am not further-employed due to diabetes. That would have had
consequences pertaining to labour law. At a time, in which I had frequent
hypoglycemias during work, I was told in an eye-to-eye conversation with my
boss, that one would have to think about a continued employment,
“if this condition does not change.”
the frequency of hypoglycemia with the help of my endo and a change of my insulin.
Also, I was not otherwise more frequently ill than others, never received a
dissuasion, and my certification was above average. Additionally, being a “half”
native speaker, I worked for our international marketing, advising doctors from
Why does one have so many problems with
chronically ill persons in a company in which almost exclusively medically trained humans
work, and daily many samples of diabetes are examined? Is it the fear to have
to bear later cost and down-times? Or it is simply the thought of
having to “work” with such persons (possible treatment of hypoglycemia,
Particularly sad is that the brother of
the medical director of the laboratory is the director of a diabetes hospital,
so that at least a knowledge about what a person with diabetes can accomplish
Luckily, the work situation for medical doctors in
Germany is very relaxed at the moment. I did find a new job in a very short time and I am now
preparing for my exams.
Thank you again for you fantastic web site,
you are a great inspiration.
– Kerstin W.,
Thank you for sharing, Kerstin. It boggles the mind how (medical) employers can be so short-sighted, all over the world, apparently.