Not getting the offer I said yes to.


To the recruiter I didn’t say ‘no’

I’ve decided that I want to go

Life can be cush

But in Alaska’s there’s bush

And salmon, mosquitoes, and snow.

Synopsis:  I’m a family doctor in Sioux City, Iowa.  In 2010, I left my position of 22 years to dance back from the brink of burnout.  While my one-year non-compete clause ticked off, I travelled and worked from Alaska to New Zealand, and now I’m back working part-time (54 hours a week) at a Community Health Center.

I said ‘yes’ to a recruiter.

It took a good deal of thought, but I remembered what a great time I had doing locum tenens (temporary doctoring) work.  I looked at the number of hours of Paid Time Off (=vacation) and I decided I could go back to Alaska for a couple of weeks.

I had worked with that recruiter before, who has shown incredible skills as a negotiator and who made me specify 5 different parameters of how much I wanted to get paid, and has never failed to bring a position in for me.

This particular gig boasts a 40 work week with no nights and no weekends in the Alaskan bush less than 2 air hours from surgical backup.  It sounded perfect.  All things in context, all things in comparison: it looked like a vacation.

(The bush is anywhere in Alaska that can only be reached by plane, boat, or snow machine.  I like the bush but my zone of comfort stops as soon as it takes more than two air hours to get to the patient to surgery.)

I fantasized about fishing the river for salmon in August and visiting friends who moved to Alaska after residency.  I looked up the village on Googlemaps and Wikipedia.  The Natives have their language intact, but the job might have been for the non-Natives.

I thought about that part.  Native health facilities generally don’t treat non-Natives except in cases of emergency (other exceptions include active duty military and their dependents), but non-Natives play an important part in rural Alaska.  Any place with a large enough non-Native population will need a medical facility.

My mood improved while I thought about going on a new adventure.  I filled out a vacation slip, and I walked with a bounce in my step.  Bethany, accurately, said I quit whining.

The recruiter called me Friday to say that three other docs, all full timers, had put in for the job.  In all likelihood it will not go to me.

But during that entire euphoric year of walkabout I almost never got my first choice, and I still had a great time.  I’m starting to look into other opportunities, and I’ve got my time frame narrowed down, to the last part of August.

No matter what I plan, it won’t turn out the way I planned.  I look forward to the surprise.

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