Back in Alaska

On a flight I was lucky to get

I left Omaha on a jet

And then I flew far

To learn a new EMR

America’s most sensible yet

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 (EMR) system I can get along with. I spent last winter in Nome, Alaska, followed by assignments in rural Iowa. The summer and fall included a medical conference in Denver, working Urgent Care in suburban Pennsylvania, and Thanksgiving in Virginia. Just finished with 2 months in western Nebraska at the most reasonable job I’ve ever had, I am back in coastal Alaska.  Any specific patient information has been included with permission.

Leaving Omaha last week on Alaska Airlines included more difficulties than anticipated, mostly at the gate.  The bar code scanner flashed red three times and made an ominous noise with 20 minutes to take off.  At 16 minutes to take off the gate agent phoned for help.  Four minutes later the third, Millennial gate agent, despite obvious computer expertise, said, “I’ve been working here two and a half years and I’ve never seen this error message before.”  Four minutes before the doors closed a couple caught the plane because my computer glitch prevented an early departure.  I told the fourth gate agent I had a credit card, I knew how to use it, and sick natives awaited me where cars cannot go.  With a minute to spare I got on the plane; the airline staff resorted to hand writing my name on the manifest.  I didn’t say anything about what happens in medicine when we lose the paper option and can’t free text.

Alaska is a very big place, with roads going to only a few population centers.  A nice overnight motel in Anchorage brought little sleep.

The airport I came into has no jet way or luggage carousel, but unloading baggage involved little chaos.

The nice lady from Medical Staff who picked me up started my orientation on the drive from the airport, explaining the road system in 3 minutes.  You can’t get lost, she said, just keep walking and you’ll get there.

Few Americans can name any of the 7 states that border Iowa, but most people here can, and a surprising number have been through Sioux City.

I went through a compressed, simplified orientation.  Maybe because it’s simple and not geared towards billing, and maybe because I’ve learned 8 new ones in the last 14 months, but the electronic medical record (EMR) system didn’t need much introduction.

With no internet connection or TV at my apartment, in desperation for something to do I turned to reading the orientation materials.

Then I had to brush up on botulism, paralytic shellfish poisoning, amnestic shellfish (domoic acid) intoxication, scombroid fish poisoning, glanders, and  melioidosis.












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