Road trip 2: Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. On dealing with a flakey recruiter


I said yes but I’m waiting to hear,
While I drive and I brake and I steer,
Not quite my ideal
But the opportunity’s real
And it might last for more than a year.

Synopsis: I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. I danced back from the brink of burnout in 2010, and, honoring a one-year non-compete clause, went for adventures working in out-of-the-way locations. After jobs in Alaska, New Zealand, Iowa, and Nebraska, I returned home and took a part-time position with a Community Health Center. I used vacation time to do two short assignments in Petersburg, Alaska. I left the Community Health Center this month because of a troubled Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.
Having fewer time constraints means more leisurely travel.
Today I slept in till 0730, took my time at breakfast, talked with recruiters, did laundry, packed, and left for Iowa City about noon.
I told the recruiters my ideal job situation: a hospitalist position in Alaska, working alternating weeks, and avoiding the ICU. One recruiter chuckled appropriately, noting that few hospitals exist in Alaska, and perhaps I’d be interested in a similar position in Maine?
Another talked about getting me into a hospitalist position in Gallup. I said, Dine bizaad shilth bahozin ndi doo hozhoo da, and immediately translated, “I speak Navajo but not well.” And a wave of Navajo memories came flooding back. The recruiter expressed amazement, and we agreed such linguistic skill would be a good marketing point. The spot pays 60% of what most hospital positions pay. Still, I think about it seriously.
Maybe, I said to both, but right now I’m waiting to hear back from a recruiter working on a spot close to my ideal, but 4 highway hours from my house, and let’s get in touch on Thursday.
The morning’s email also held an offer for a position in the Alaska interior. They want a 3 month commitment, but the job has appeared over and over in the last two years, and I suspect they might be able to flex if I offered them, say, 18 continuous days on, then 7 continuous days off, enough time to fly home. I slid the email into my Locum Tenens folder.
I munched sunflower seeds and high-quality chocolates all the way to Iowa City. I talked to two more recruiters on the way. I confirmed my ideal situation, discussed where I can flex and where I can’t. One told me about a spot that has gone empty for quite a while, a six-hour drive from home. Can’t fly there? She asked. Nope, I replied, one can only fly from Sioux City to Chicago.
After an uneventful drive, over curry and naan and saag paneer in Iowa City I got to recount some Alaska experiences and the surrealism of Adak Island.
When I checked my email this evening I found a different agency offering the same position 4 hours from home I’d said yes to, and right under that an email from the recruiter I had spoken with. They just wanted you for Thanksgiving week, he said. And I faced a conundrum.
On a moral basis, I owed the first recruiter my business, but the second outfit looks a lot more professional than the first. So I replied to the first recruiter that another agency had offered me that spot, too, and not for just a short-term, and should I go ahead and have them present me for the longer term?
I’ll hear back tomorrow.

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