Signing up for an adventure


I have made a momentous decision,

I’ll be trying out a position

    I guess it’s the norm

   To fill out the forms

For the agencies employing physicians

I’m filling out an application for a locum tenens agency.  I spoke with one of their recruiters today, and the position sounds exciting though not lucrative.

Life is full of tradeoffs. 

The advantages: a reasonable pace of work, a fabulous location where we have friends, the opportunity for world-class hunting and fishing, another state medical license (paid for by agency), an adventure, a working vacation.  The disadvantages: lower pay than I’m used to.  But isn’t that what this transition is about?

The locum tenens industry is huge.  There at least dozens, and possibly hundreds of agencies, booking thousands of jobs.  Doctor shortages pop up on short or long notice all over the place.  The firm that I spoke with today has an entire division devoted to licensing.

The advantage of being a locum tenens doc is the variety and the travel.  The disadvantage is the variety and the travel, and to a certain extent, the money.

The forms you fill out to get medical jobs ask the same questions.  I make the answers brief, but the whole truth is much longer. 

Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony?

Not a felony.  But there was the time I spent four days in jail in Geary County, Kansas, for the heinous crime of being an illegal pedestrian.  (I’m not joking.  My real crime was having a ponytail in 1969.)  Being in jail isn’t that bad, and I felt safe while I was there and the blizzard raged outside.  When I got out I was glad I was out and my cellmates stayed in.

But being an illegal pedestrian goes with my record of four promptly paid parking tickets, and my ticket for failing to yield right of way on a left hand turn.  It gets disregarded if the question says, “other than minor traffic tickets.”

The item that I have to fess up to is my ticket for failing to promptly tag an antelope in Converse County, Wyoming.  Yes, it’s minor.  Yes, it’s a ticket.  But it’s not a traffic ticket.

Have you ever been sued? This question comes up a lot. Yes, I was, once.  It doesn’t matter that I was dropped from the suit two weeks before trial and was asked by the attorney to be a plaintiff’s witness (I spoke truthfully, which didn’t help his case, and he never paid me).  I have to give the capsule description whenever I’m asked.

Where did you do your premed?  I did a semester of calculus while I was at Yale and the rest I did at University of Colorado at Denver with two semesters of organic chemistry at University of Colorado at Boulder.  Try putting that in the little box.

Where did you do your internship?  Where did you do your residency? That’s pretty easy but the problem is that they were the same place.  I could have gone into general practice after the first year; really, after the first four months because of a hiccup in the law in Wyoming that year.  But I stayed on to get more training for two more years. 

Where did you take your initial licensing exam?  I remember the sunny summer day in 1979 well.  Denver’s brown cloud was near its all-time peak and you couldn’t see the mountains.  Three days of answering multiple choice questions 630 at a time.  I remember a female doc flirting with me over gyros at one of the lunch breaks.  I cannot remember her name, nor can I remember any of the questions.

It was before I learned about life and death and tradeoffs.

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