Friday, April 24, 2009

To Get to the Other Side

There are times in life when everything seems to fall right in to place, and then, there are times like now. I can see the shimmering oasis of a new life, just on the horizon. A better call schedule, closer to family and friends, a chance to work in a collegial (not competitive) environment, more time with my precious kids and husband, and a chance to grow as a physician. Between the oasis and where I stand, however, is a treacherous, rock-filled, rapid river, swirling and threatening my ability to ever reach the opposite shore.

Obstacle #1 - Our house is on the market, and we have shown it at least a dozen times. Yet, despite positive overall feedback, not a single offer. I don't mean to boast, but our house is a beautiful house. I love it. I was ready to buy it the second I walked through the front door, and I can't believe that everyone else that sees it doesn't feel the same way. We never thought we would have to sell this house. Maybe we should have thought about selling it before we bought it. If we don't sell before we move, we'll have a hefty house payment, along with any rent payment we need to pay in Newville. This alone will be a financial strain.

Obstacle #2 - Mr. Whoo has yet to find a job, nor procure an interview in Newville. Granted, he has only starting looking in earnest recently. However, he is looking for work in the finance world, which isn't the best place to be seeking employment given the current state of our economy. We have been fortunate that he was able to quit his job last fall when our family really needed it, but now we worry that the employment gap may cause an impetus with new employers. Plus, without an additional income after the move, there will be more financial strain on our family. (See Obstacle #1)

Obstacle #3 - My current place of employment is not letting me go without a fight. There have been veiled and outright threats of lawsuits and damages and liabilities for me leaving earlier than my contract had mandated. There is also the matter of giving back a portion of student loans paid by the hospital. The fact that we would have to pay back was not unexpected, however, the amount that we calculated is about half of what the hospital estimates. We are procuring the services of a contract negotiator and a lawyer, who seem to believe we have a case for inducement, but I'm having angina just thinking of it. Not to mention the fact that, if the hospital's calculations are correct, they want us to pay up in less than 2 months. Add more financial liability to the swirly, cold, and fast water.

Obstacle #4 - Emotionally, I am wrung out. I am completely exhausted, and barely hanging on by my fingernails to make it to the date I indicated I was leaving. Being on call, continuously, with only 4 days off per month (plus vacation time), has left me completely burnt out. I find it hard to drag myself to work and muster compassion for my patients. They deserve better than the doctor I am right now. My health, mental and physical, is suffering. The remainder of my contract is a mere six months, and by finishing it out, I can alleviate much of the financial burden of the above obstacles...for the price of my very sanity. I want to cry just thinking of it.

So, I sit here on the bank, pining for the oasis, and unsure how to navigate the obstacles that lie before me. Oddly, I am reminded of the "old school" computer game, "The Oregon Trail." When faced with a river, you can try to ford the river, float the river, or hire someone else to help you across. Right now, I am pining desperately for someone to throw me a life line, or at the very least, a strategy for surviving these treacherous waters. The best advice I can relate to our readers is to know what you are getting in to before you sign a contract. There is no such thing as a perfect job, and if it seems too good to be true, it, in all likelihood, *is* too good to be true. Caveat emptor...and pass the caulk.

*cross posted at Ob/Gyn Kenobi


  1. I'm so sorry you're going through all this. I'm under a lot of stress too with my residency coming to an end and now having to move and search for jobs.... I wish I could be one of those people who act like they don't even know there's a recession going on.

  2. Oh Dr. Whoo, my heart goes out to you. My only advice: Imagine looking back on this in 5 or 10 years. Will you have been happier had you gritted your teeth and stuck out the last few months? Or would you have been better off getting out of a bad situation ASAP, regardless of the financial situation, knowing that the finances would eventually improve (no matter how hard it is now, we are lucky to be in a field that we can eventually dig ourselves out of financial holes. People will always need doctors, and we will generally make a decent paycheck). The other thing that helps me in bad times: I imagine myself in 10 or 15 years telling my friends stories about this time while enjoying a glass of wine or slice of cake (i.e. "Can you believe what this hospital made me deal with?" or "Here I am, after having taken call forever, w/ this woman trying to tell me...").

    Ok, I'm rereading this and it DOES sound a bit psycho, but I swear it does help you look at things w/ a sense of humor.

  3. I am sorry. I hope you can look back on this in about a year and be so relieved how much better everything is.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear about all the difficulties you're facing.
    Actually, I'm also in a similar situation. I'd been feeling so trapped in my current job situation, and started looking for another job. Right now I'm worrying about the house situation, selling this house, buying another one hopefully, my husband's job, my son's school situation, hiring a nanny for my daughter, worrying that it'll all be too expensive... and at the end of the tunnel is a job with less call, living in a city with more friends, and hopefully better education for my children.
    It's totally exhausting moving and transitioning.
    Hang in there!!

  5. This is soon going to be only a memory. I'm glad you are leaving though. My strategy? Take this awful experience, these stresses, this exhaustion, and record your thoughts as if you are going to write a book about this. Or start writing the book. It can give the pain a purpose...

    Mark off days on a calendar and after each week, get a small present?

    It will all work out. I'm looking forward to hearing about life in the new place.

  6. Please, try to look ahead and imagie devastation form your leaving practice too early - financial losses, stress are not worth it. Talk to your employer and arrange for 2 weeks of leave of abscense, reachrge your energy for the next 6 months. It is also cheaper for them to give you time off and look for another physicain while they know they have you for 6 months. And things will fall in to place.

    I had a bad empolyer too, and spend close to 20,000$ on getting out of the place. I wish you do not have my losses. Good luck !


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