Posts Tagged ‘illegal pedestrian’

Team Building Experience, Past and Present

July 23, 2017

We played Two Truths and a Lie,

Then had sushi and beer bye and bye

From the end to the start

Team building’s an art

And none of our airplanes could fly.

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 traveling and adventures in temporary positions. Assignments in Alaska, rural Iowa, suburban Pennsylvania and western Nebraska have followed.  I finished my most recent assignment in Clarinda on May 18.  Right now I’m in northern British Columbia, getting a first-hand look at the Canadian system. Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission.

As I began my second year of residency in Wyoming, the buzz words “Team Building Experience” had just started circulation. Who knows who decided tubing the North Platte would fill that function?  But nobody objected to the idea of leaving town for a day, driving an hour or two, renting truck inner tubes, and getting into a meandering river.

Whoever made the decision hadn’t looked realistically at the time involved. What should have lasted two hours at most turned into a six-hour struggle.  All of us, at one point or another, left the water carrying the tube, swearing never to get back in.  And all of us jumped back in the river.  We all had our reasons, but the most common one turned out to be the sound of rattlesnakes.

I can honestly say no one died, though most of us finished in the gentler stages of hypothermia.

The program wisely decided against further Team Building Exercises for the duration of my tenure. At various times different subgroups held bonding experiences involving large amounts of alcohol and no official sanction.

I don’t know when and if more Team Building Exercises happened.

The office here has Team Building Exercises twice yearly. The clinic closes and a locum takes over the ER.  This time vacations had a couple of the permanent docs absent, and, despite the temporary nature of my assignment, I got invited, too.

We started off with a couple of getting acquainted exercises; one of them called Two Truths and a Lie. We all wrote three sentences on a card, two true and one false.  The group had to figure out the author and to ferret out the lie.

I wrote, “My first college major was Music Theory and Composition. I was an Olympic hopeful in Archery.  I spent 4 nights in jail.”  More people believed I’d been a top athlete (false) than I’d been a composer (true).  But everyone found the idea I’d spent time behind bars plausible, and wanted to know why.  They couldn’t understand what Illegal Pedestrian meant.  I explained it was an archaic Kansas expression meaning Male with a Ponytail.

We went on to build airplanes using nothing other than 3 boxes of aluminum foil. We broke into pairs, sat back to back, and had one person describe a picture to the other person so as to reproduce it.

The last game involved trying to grab an unfolded red napkin from the back of the belt from as many others as possible. I decided to abstain more because of my back and ankles than my age.

After sushi and beer we sat around and chatted and relaxed, something we don’t get to do often.

At the end we thanked our office manager for putting together a great day.

It beat the heck out of inner tubes, rivers, and rattlesnakes.


Drama and irony, looking for work, and apply for another license.

March 2, 2015

A position, too good to be true

At last, just today, it fell through

The problem, I fear,

Is I want to stay near

And enjoy the Iowa view.

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.

I return to Nome at the end of the week.  I have plans through to the middle of April but nothing firmed up after that.  Today I worked on finalizing my application for my Pennsylvania license.

My penchant for complete honesty has worked against me, again.  They asked about any criminal offense in the past, and of course I included my three traffic tickets, my 9 parking tickets, my wildlife ticket from Wyoming, and my illegal pedestrian conviction from Geary County, Kansas, in 1970.  So I had to call the Iowa State Police Department of Criminal Investigation and request a letter.

I also phoned my med school, my most recent Chief Medical Officer, the County Courthouse, and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Licensing Division.

Every time someone asked, “How are you?”  I told them, “Annoyingly cheerful,” and smiled my way through the conversation.  The interchanges went well, I got everything I needed.

But I hold no hopes that a Pennsylvania license will come earlier than June, and arranging work will take another 6 weeks after that.

I tell recruiters my considerations; I won’t work with the EMR which drove me from my last position.  I also make very clear the limits I put on prescribing tranquilizers, nerve pills, and stimulants.  I still get a lot of offers.

In the meantime I hope to start work as a hospitalist here in Sioux City a week a month in May.

A position in Alaska that promised three days’ work per month, with transportation, turned out to be too good to be true.

I had my eye on a job about two hours from here as a hospitalist; they wanted someone to take their weekend call once per month, and to work their hospital patients 1-2 days per week , for a total of about 8 days per month.  Though a 2 hour drive, it promised a reasonable pace and an upscale patient population.   But, in a recent change of job description, they wanted me to work Outpatient as well, and to use the EMR I found incompatible.  Today I received this forward:

I did speak with the CEO about this candidate. He will not consider a candidate that does not want to work on C******** (the EMR I won’t work with). His ideal candidate is a provider that can do Outpatient and Inpatient. They had a FP that died in his sleep three weeks ago. They have a huge need.

The drama and irony left me breathless.  I’ve offered to work with them if they’ll get me a scribe.


Jury Duty: Avoided. The truth sets me free

December 21, 2014

The sentence given to me

Ten days or a large fee

A minor infraction

But now, no retraction

And the truth indeed set me free

Synopsis: I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. I danced back from the brink of burnout in 2010, and, honoring a one-year non-compete clause, went for adventures working in out-of-the-way locations. After jobs in Alaska, New Zealand, Iowa, and Nebraska, I returned home and took a part-time position with a Community Health Center, where I worked for 3 years.  I left last month because of a troubled relationship with the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.  Now I’m back from a road trip, working a bit with one of the rural docs, and getting ready for another job in Alaska.

I didn’t own a car till after I graduated from medical school.  In the late 60’s and through the 70’s, I answered my transportation needs on a local level with a bicycle and on a larger scale with hitchhiking.  I ran more risks than I should have, and I don’t want my children to learn what I learned.  But I had loads of fun.

In March 1970 a driver dropped me at the intersection of Kansas 177 and Interstate 80, east of Junction City, Kansas.  Another long hair stood at the same on ramp.  We shook hands.  He offered me some honey, and we shared a snack as we stood well off the pavement, next to some rocks.  I talked about the limestone and explained the flint nodules.  Then the Geary County Sheriff’s deputy showed up and arrested us both.  Before sunset, I had been convicted of being an illegal pedestrian, and sentenced to $100 or 10 days.

Since then the law has changed, the Supreme Court finding that sort of sentence discriminatory against the poor, and now the convicted can’t buy their way out of jail.

I didn’t have the $100 at the time, and, besides, I love adventures and I’d never spent time behind bars before.  I got to hang out with 4 other guys, charged with, variously, bad checks, breaking and entering, murder, and illegal pedestrian.

Terrible weather hit the evening of my incarceration, white-out blizzard conditions.  Four days later when the weather broke, the judge summoned me back to court.  He looked exhausted.  My mother had been calling him at home, day and night.  He told me to get on the Greyhound Bus and leave the county.

I don’t much like Greyhound Buses and my feelings for Geary County in general and Junction City in particular have mellowed but little since then.

Now when I fill out a credential application, such those completed for my Pennsylvania license or for my upcoming assignment to Nome, I say “I spent 4 days in jail for being an illegal pedestrian, my real crime was probably having a pony tail in 1970 in Kansas.”

More than forty years later, summoned to jury duty when I had no work scheduled till Friday, the judge promised we’d be out, at the latest, tomorrow afternoon.

The judge, smiling and professional, asked preliminary questions.  He if we’d been arrested.  Mine was the only hand that went up.

Laughter rang in the court room when I said illegal pedestrian, and came louder when I said 4 days in jail.

Then the judge cleared the courtroom, and called me back in 10 minutes later.

I admitted my biases, both for and against the defendant.  While I have a deep mistrust of law enforcement, I said, because of my work I have an even deeper trust of lab results.

Then he asked if I believed that people get stopped for Driving While Black.  Yes, I said, I did; it has happened several times to one of my daughters because she got all the kinky hair genes from my wife and me.

Three and a half hours after I entered the courthouse, I walked out into the bitter cold.

Speaking the truth might have set me free. It at least got me out of jury duty, but it took all morning.

Is there a lesser charge than illegal pedestrian?

March 7, 2011

The papers sure made quite a pile

To sign them it took me a while

     From the first to the last,

     My criminal past

I had to put into the file

Synopsis:  I’m a family practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  On sabbatical to avoid burnout, while my non-compete clause ticks away I’m having adventures, visiting family and friends, and working in out-of-the-way places.  I just got back from a six-week assignment in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost point in the country.

It snowed today in Sioux City, but it felt like spring.  Because of my recent time in the Arctic, the word “cold” doesn’t seem to apply at temperatures near the melting point of water.  I went out without long underwear under my jeans, without my parka, and listened to the birds singing.

Houses in Sioux City don’t rest on stilts, trees grow here, and the roads are paved.  Here the soil particles cling together to form mud that sticks to shoes, and plants grow in riotous abundance when the ground thaws.  We have no permafrost.

I stopped at St. Luke’s Hospital, which has a CT scanner, MRI, full service surgery, ICU and CCU.  I made more arrangements to restart and learned I can’t get a fob and a new ID till I get recredentialed after my leave of absence.

I talked to a couple of physicians in the doctors’ lounge and introduced myself to one of the new cardiologists.  Given a chance, I spouted off about my adventures in Barrow, my upcoming plans in another country, and my intention to return to work at the Community Health Center in June.

I drove down there and for an hour I signed papers.

I’ve gotten used to credentialing over the last year.  The first time it cost me more than a week of free time, the last time I got it done in less than a morning.  Today it took me less than an hour; most of what I had to fill out had been completed for me by staffers reading my CV and other papers; all that was lacking was my signature.

I had to establish my bona fides with every major insurer that my new business works with.

Several of the forms asked if I’d ever been convicted of a crime, and, once again, some organizations added ‘other than minor traffic offenses,’ and some didn’t.

Forty years ago this month I was arrested in Geary County, Kansas.  I was charged with being an illegal pedestrian, tried, convicted and sentenced to ten days in the county jail.  I served four.  I regard illegal pedestrian as the most minor of criminal offenses, ranking below a parking ticket and the fact that I spent time behind bars for it shows the absurdity of the application of some of our laws.  I think my real crime involved my pony tail. 

All institutions wanted to know about malpractice history.  I was named once in a suit.  The same action named the pathologist who did the autopsy; he was dropped two weeks later, I was dropped two weeks before trial.

The pile of papers I signed came to two inches thick, and doesn’t include my contract. 

Right afterwards I met with the farmer who rents my three-quarters of a quarter section.  The simple meeting involved a check and a chat.

Farming isn’t medical care, the Arctic isn’t the Midwest, and spring isn’t winter.

Contrast is the essence of meaning.

Signing up for an adventure

April 29, 2010

I have made a momentous decision,

I’ll be trying out a position

    I guess it’s the norm

   To fill out the forms

For the agencies employing physicians

I’m filling out an application for a locum tenens agency.  I spoke with one of their recruiters today, and the position sounds exciting though not lucrative.

Life is full of tradeoffs. 

The advantages: a reasonable pace of work, a fabulous location where we have friends, the opportunity for world-class hunting and fishing, another state medical license (paid for by agency), an adventure, a working vacation.  The disadvantages: lower pay than I’m used to.  But isn’t that what this transition is about?

The locum tenens industry is huge.  There at least dozens, and possibly hundreds of agencies, booking thousands of jobs.  Doctor shortages pop up on short or long notice all over the place.  The firm that I spoke with today has an entire division devoted to licensing.

The advantage of being a locum tenens doc is the variety and the travel.  The disadvantage is the variety and the travel, and to a certain extent, the money.

The forms you fill out to get medical jobs ask the same questions.  I make the answers brief, but the whole truth is much longer. 

Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony?

Not a felony.  But there was the time I spent four days in jail in Geary County, Kansas, for the heinous crime of being an illegal pedestrian.  (I’m not joking.  My real crime was having a ponytail in 1969.)  Being in jail isn’t that bad, and I felt safe while I was there and the blizzard raged outside.  When I got out I was glad I was out and my cellmates stayed in.

But being an illegal pedestrian goes with my record of four promptly paid parking tickets, and my ticket for failing to yield right of way on a left hand turn.  It gets disregarded if the question says, “other than minor traffic tickets.”

The item that I have to fess up to is my ticket for failing to promptly tag an antelope in Converse County, Wyoming.  Yes, it’s minor.  Yes, it’s a ticket.  But it’s not a traffic ticket.

Have you ever been sued? This question comes up a lot. Yes, I was, once.  It doesn’t matter that I was dropped from the suit two weeks before trial and was asked by the attorney to be a plaintiff’s witness (I spoke truthfully, which didn’t help his case, and he never paid me).  I have to give the capsule description whenever I’m asked.

Where did you do your premed?  I did a semester of calculus while I was at Yale and the rest I did at University of Colorado at Denver with two semesters of organic chemistry at University of Colorado at Boulder.  Try putting that in the little box.

Where did you do your internship?  Where did you do your residency? That’s pretty easy but the problem is that they were the same place.  I could have gone into general practice after the first year; really, after the first four months because of a hiccup in the law in Wyoming that year.  But I stayed on to get more training for two more years. 

Where did you take your initial licensing exam?  I remember the sunny summer day in 1979 well.  Denver’s brown cloud was near its all-time peak and you couldn’t see the mountains.  Three days of answering multiple choice questions 630 at a time.  I remember a female doc flirting with me over gyros at one of the lunch breaks.  I cannot remember her name, nor can I remember any of the questions.

It was before I learned about life and death and tradeoffs.