If you’re walking around in the snow
Be careful of where you might go
We can’t be assured
That the Nome Musk Ox herd
Will watch for pedestrian flow

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, travelled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I am back having adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record System (EMR) I can get along with. Right now I’m in Nome, Alaska.

Getting up before dawn doesn’t mean much in Nome in the winter.  But I arose early and walked 14 minutes through near zero temperature to the hospital.  I have adapted quickly to the cold; I worked up a sweat though my clothing didn’t change from yesterday.

I came in through the ER entrance, up the spectacular main staircase, to the third floor conference room for orientation.

The employees here get great benefits: pension plan, very low cost health insurance, low cost meals at the cafeteria, free admission to the gym, and work comp insurance.  I miss out because of my contractor status; I (nominally) work for myself.

After the benefits rundown, we got the briefest synopsis of the employee handbook.  We watched DVDs about blood borne pathogens, fire extinguishers, and HIPAA.  Security took our pictures, and made us ID badges.  We got a tour of the hospital, with an emphasis on how to evacuate for a fire.

Another DVD showed us how to walk on ice so we don’t fall; I discovered the hospital has an office where one can buy outdoor safety equipment.

The cultural presentation surprised me.  I hadn’t known that Nome serves as economic and medical hub for 17 villages with a total population almost  as large as the city  itself.

We trooped to the  cafeteria at noon, just as the sun came up.  The hospital paid for our lunch, but not for chips, candy, or soda.  We ate while watching another DVD about harassment in the workplace; whether from the cooking or from the  less than stellar video, I couldn’t bring myself to finish the chicken fried steak.

The end of the day, with the red sun setting south across the Bering  Sea found me at the information services office getting my email account set up.

With no clinical work expected for another 48 hours I found 136 emails in my inbox, dating from 12/25. About 10% carried holiday greetings, and another 30% had to do with usual hospital business like  cars scratched in the parking lot, lost earrings, and “I will be gone from my desk until…”

The best email read:
You may have noticed we have Musk Ox hanging around the Hospital. Mostly north of the hospital around QCC and the smoking area near the BIG rock. At times, they could get somewhat get a little to close for comfort.
A freindly reminder:
Please use caution and keep your eyes open when outside around the Hospital. Generally, the Musk Ox are first to move away and stay to themselves. One only knows they could have a change in mind. Having said that, please be safe outside and enjoy the rest of your glorious day and week. Happy Holidays from the Security Department.

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