A federal hiring freeze
Has put my plans into a squeeze
It was signed with a smirk
But I just wanted to work,
For the Vets with a cold or a sneeze.
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, traveled 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 went back to adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system I can get along with. Assignments in Nome, Alaska, rural Iowa, and suburban Pennsylvania stretched into fall 2015. Since last winter I’ve worked in Alaska and western Nebraska, and taken time to deal with my wife’s (benign) brain tumor. After a moose hunt in Canada, and short jobs in western Iowa and Alaska, the fallout of certain Presidential Executive Orders has me cooling my heels at home . Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission.
Usually Washington decisions take months to influence my life, the ship of state does not turn on a dime. But one of our new President’s Executive Orders, the federal hiring freeze, which garnered the least attention, impacted me the most.
The original plan, to return from Alaska, kick back for a couple of weeks, then return to Alaska to work with the VA, got derailed shortly after the inauguration. Especially because we have a family event in Pittsburgh the last weekend of April, the VA’s requested minimum 90 day commitment has lost its feasibility.
Emails to my planned employer have gone unanswered for a week and a half now, and it’s time for me to move on. Even if I know that winter in Alaska leaves most medical installations short-handed.
Working locum tenens taught me to embrace uncertainty. What happens in reality turns out better than what I had planned.
Back in 2010 I tried to book employment on my own, without an agency. I sent a mailing out to 25 nearby facilities, following up with 25 phone calls and 25 emails. I got no response. Since then all my work has been through agencies. And I would have gone with an agency to the VA but for some shifts in budgets and Federal rules.
A good agency justifies their piece of the pie by value added services; a bad agency has difficulty justifying their existence.
(As a side note, my Canadian venture started with 5 months with an agent who didn’t work out. I struck off on my own, and 18 months later got a job offer.)
In the meantime I’ve been doing Continuing Medical Education with the American Board of Family Medicine, trying to keep me, and them, up to date; I got 56 hours that way. I’ve been doing some Canadian CME, too. I read the journals that stacked up in our absence. I go to the gym on alternate days. I take a nap when I feel like it, several times a day. I made 4 batches of moose jerky.
I had a novel in need of rewrites on my hard drive; I did 5 edits and submitted it to a publisher.
But I need to go back to work. I miss it. I have an agent (more accurate than the commonly used term recruiter) looking at spots in Alaska, northeast Nebraska, and southwest Iowa. Another agency offered a hospitalist spot in New Mexico.
Bethany and I go to movie matinees. We talk a lot about where we might go next.