Canada, rainbow’s end, and pheasant glass


In the evening I dove east in the rain
With a rainbow out over the plain
No matter what you’ve been told
At the end, there’s no gold,
But in fall, we just might have grain.

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. Just back from Nome, Alaska, I’m now in Grundy Center, Iowa.
I drove with the sun at my back, eastwards, from Sioux City towards Grundy Center, across flat farmland dotted with wind turbines. The dramatic clouds in front of me contrasted with the sunshine behind me, clarity against darkness. Bit by bit, a rainbow emerged against the backdrop, first at the north end, then at the south, and finally arched right across the sky.

I could not help but remember our train trip south across New Zealand, between assignments. Seven rainbows graced the skies that rainy day.

I picked New Zealand over Ireland in 2011 because of the medical licensure application. Ireland’s 84-page form brimmed with dense prose, indefinite antecedents and esoteric usage despite nominal English, after a week spent on the first 10 pages I gave it up as a bad bit of work, added it to recycling, and picked up New Zealand’s four-pager, which I completed in an under an hour.

Right now I’m working on a Canadian license. The paperwork so far has been reasonable to the point of unbelievability. In fact, I don’t believe it and I’m waiting for the full weight of bureaucracy to fall across my electronic desktop.

Trish, my recruiter, has guided me with patience and kindness. We mostly talk on her days working at home. In the US, recruiters work for agencies to place physicians where needed; the doc works as an independent contractor. The agency guarantees transportation, professional liability insurance, and housing. I can’t generalize for all Canada, but my recruiter puts doctors together with institutions in need. The professional then negotiates with the employer about rate, insurance, lodging, and transportation. In the end, the Canadian recruiter takes a much smaller piece of the pie. And doctors do their own negotiations.

In the beginning, I had no particular geographic aspirations. I even considered working in Quebec because I speak French (acquired, with Rosetta Stone, last year). Later I realized that the French spelling system with its archaic silent letters would threaten sanity maintenance in a medical environment.

Alberta, Manitoba, and Ontario slipped out of consideration, one by one, for different reasons.
So over the course of the last two months, my recruiter has helped narrow my focus from all of Canada to British Columbia, and I have entered the weird world of international licensure. Each province has its own license authority, just as every state in the Union does, but they have a degree of reciprocity.
Why Canada? Not chasing rainbows. I want to work in the Canadian system, which American doctors love to revile without understanding it. I don’t understand it either; I want to experience it first hand, and write about it. In all fairness, I’ve worked the American system for 33 years and I don’t understand it.

And I have all the rainbows I want, anywhere I go. I came over the crest of a hill, and the north end of the rainbow, always retreating at a fixed distance, shone against the brown and green of the Iowa fields germinating corn in the spring. No pot of gold, no leprechauns, just gleaming yellow, and a moment later, for a thrilling second, the south end of the rainbow popped up out of a gulley.

Then, WHAM, a hen pheasant died on my windshield.

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