Another road trip, day 1


In the car I picked up some calls

As we drove past fields and malls

To make a decision

Without info precision

I requested an ethical stall

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. Since then I’ve done a couple of assignments in rural Iowa, and one in western Alaska.

Bethany and I rocketed east at highway speeds.  The crops still too immature to tell soybeans from corn, the fields have acquired a definite green hue, the brown of the dirt still barely visible between the rows.

A call came through the miracle of Bluetooth and car electronics; a colleague had discovered the perfidy of the recruiting agency.  I worked at that venue for a while, we agreed the work, the staff, and the administration make the clinical side enjoyable.  The town itself we found unique, exotic, and fun.  But we also agreed that we don’t want to work with that agency again.

In this country at this time, when a healthcare facility finds a need for a doctor, they turn to an agency.  If the agency successfully recruits a doctor, they get a large fee from the client, from which they pay the doctor (as an independent contractor), get him/her to the gig, put him/her up once they get there, rent a car if necessary, and finance professional liability insurance.   They also vet the candidate.

They deserve money for their services.  However professionalism runs a spectrum amongst recruiters, and, regretfully, among agencies.

I went to New Zealand through the government-financed agency NZLocums.  They took money from neither doctor nor client, and put me onto a couple of really sweet assignments.

Another, private enterprise agency placed locums docs in New Zealand at that time; they took a commission of about 1/3 and, in return, made sure the immigration process went smoothly.

Later in the day, another call came through from Canada.  Like New Zealand, this province has a government-funded agency to help bring in doctors for short-term assignments; they exist on tax dollars rather than commission.  But I’ve been working with a small, private agency that collects a finder’s fee from the client and lets the doctor and the facility negotiate their own contract.

The person I talked to from the government-funded agency expressed a good deal of unhappiness that I would work with the private firm, told me in no uncertain terms that I couldn’t go through both, and tried to pressure me into making a choice immediately.

I declined to do so, but Bethany and I discussed it as we drove.

We reasoned that on the New Zealand analogy we’d face a tradeoff between the two choices: once would probably offer more money and the other would probably offer better service.   But in a game of imperfect and incomplete information, we couldn’t be sure of that tradeoff, nor of the degree of the tradeoff.

But I know that I don’t like the government agency’s rep’s approach;  I found it high-handed and bullying.  And I know that this adventure is not about the money.

We’ve made our decision.

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One Response to “Another road trip, day 1”

  1. Terry Says:

    Doesn’t sound exactly like it works here but I’m referring to within Aus and/or NZ.

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