Prepping for a new assignment with the certainty of uncertainty

Here’s something to keep you from hurtin’,

Set emotional pain to avertin’

     Whatever’s arranged

    Is bound to get changed

The future is always uncertain

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  On sabbatical to avoid burnout, while my non-compete clause ticks away I’m having adventures, visiting family and friends, and working in out-of-the-way places.  I just got back from a six-week assignment in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in the country.

I’ve been prepping for an assignment in another country but I’ve not written any details about the trip because so many times in the past deals have fallen through at the last minute.

My plans have changed a a lot since I decided to make a career change.  I rejected my first scheme, to stay in Sioux City but work in an allied clinic closer to home, after less than a week of consideration.  Thinking it through I realized I wouldn’t be slowing down at all.

Another plan, involving a local Indian reservation, turned out to be inside the thirty-mile limit of my contract.  Negotiations with another reservation fell through, I suspect because I asked for too much money (and they didn’t even make me a counter-offer). 

Then I had the idea that I should retrace my steps coming here, and work in Michigan, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nebraska.  The timing turned out to be too complicated. 

I started talking with recruiters from Locum Tenens agencies.  When I finally figured out where to post my bona fides I started getting lots of calls.  Hint for any doctors or recruiters who might be reading this post: and the New England Journal of Medicine have excellent bulletin boards.  I’m shocked that more agencies and doctors don’t use them.

I keep modifying my agenda, and I’ve stayed flexible.  I’ve assented to 19 jobs so far, of which four didn’t fall through and one is pending.

And I had a great time at all four jobs.

This upcoming placement, if it works, has changed and morphed.  Clinics in towns with exotic names requested a locum tenens (substitute) doctor, then changed their minds.  Other facilities, where I’d like to work, want me but bureaucratic rules could not be circumvented.  In the meantime, I corresponded with the recruiter over and over.  I searched Wikipedia and Googlemaps and  One recruiter left for a different position and another recruiter took her place. 

When we thought things were set, and that I’d for sure have work, I sent off to my licensing boards to send Certificates of Good Standing to the country’s licensing body and we booked tickets. 

Today I got an email titled Change of Plans.

I called the recruiter and turned on the phone’s speaker.

The proposed first placement wasn’t going to work out.  How about something else?

I grinned, but I watched Bethany’s smile fall from her face as we listened to details.  A different climate, and instead of pastoral farm country, we’d be on the beach.  One central hub facility and six outlying clinics.  Temperatures slightly warmer.  Excellent fishing, but marginal hunting.  I remained enthusiastic.

 In the last year I’ve learned to keep myself flexible when it comes to future plans, though I can’t deny the emotional rollercoaster ride from making plans and having them change.

When we hung up I was still smiling.  “It’s all good,” I said.  “Worst comes to worst, we’ll end up having a vacation till we’re tired of vacation, then we’ll come home and I’ll find something else.”

“I want some of what you’re taking,” Bethany said.

I handed her some chocolate chips.  “Take two of these,” I said, “You’ll feel better.”


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2 Responses to “Prepping for a new assignment with the certainty of uncertainty”


    You know after 18 years of doctoring with you, the truth has finally come out!

    You medicate your wife with chocolate just like I do!


  2. walkaboutdoc Says:

    The problem is that it works.

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