Taking lessons at a block party

I’ll tell you how full is my dish.

A job sounds oh, so delish,

I will not go sour

To be paid by the hour

If after my work I can fish.

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  In 2010, I danced back from the brink of burnout and traveled for a year doing temporary medical assignments from Barrow, Alaska to New Zealand’s South Island.  I’m now working at a Community Health Center part-time, which has come to mean 54 hours a week.

I talked to a colleague with cancer today.  He faces a good month of surgery and chemo, and uncertainty of eventual return to work. We discussed the price that call exacts from a doctor.

A couple weeks ago I ran into another doc who retired completely 5 years ago at age 55.  He looked energetic and rested.  He talked with relish of how he’d taken a hammer to his laptop as his last act as a doctor.

A lawyer at a social gathering recently asked me what I thought about the Affordable Care Act, and before I could get a complete sentence out had fallen to pontificating about how the problems with American medicine were the fault of the AMA.  I listened for a quarter of an hour, and asked if he wanted to hear my opinion, or just go on about his.  He responded, frankly, that he didn’t want to hear what I had to say.

I would have told him that the ACA, good for the doctors and bad for the country, just makes me more marketable.

A couple of neighbors got together and threw a block party yesterday.  Over burgers and potluck I talked with some retirees, to try to get a sense of what they did with their time.  The most senior of the group, a WWII vet, now in his 90’s, still drives and still works.  Those of his employers I’ve spoken to love him; he shows up and he does his work and carries a reputation for complete trustworthiness.  His job bring him fulfillment, and I suspect adds to his life expectancy.

After the block party I went home and did some more work on my application for a locum tenens assignment.  I put together documentation for the easiest 225 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) from the last two years.  I copied the recertification wallet cards for the life-saving courses of ACLS, ATLS, BLS, and NRP.  I updated my legal history to reflect my (wrongful) speeding ticket in New Zealand and my four new but deserved parking tickets here.

I said yes to this assignment even though I have plenty of work at home.   I love my work but I want it to stop at 40 hours, and if it doesn’t stop at 40 hours I want recompense for the extras.  And I can walk to great fishing from the clinic.

Even with a contract signed the job could fall through.  If it does, I’m still going to go on vacation.

And I’m scanning my documents in case I want to go back to the locums life.  I’m trying to take lessons from the veteran I talked to.



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