Sometimes I like to imagine that I can somehow prepare for the future. That maybe weighing all the possibilities will guide my decisions and that later, when I look back, I’ll think “thank goodness I thought of this in advance!” While Jason and I have been exploring various locations, I have been able to put some of this thinking aside and focus in the short term. There’s no stress about the long term goal, no question of “where do you see yourself in five years?” because our timeline lasts only about 3-6 months. But that nagging voice in the back of my mind always begs the question- is this our new home?
When I took this job in Corvallis, OR, I was excited for a number of reasons. Of course we were thrilled to get a chance to finally live in Oregon, and it most certainly has not disappointed us. Oregon manages to combine all the things we love about Colorado and North Carolina (specifically, Durham), like beer, mountains, water, farmer’s markets and hands down, the best cider I have ever had-I tell ya, folks, Two Towns is going places. Keep in mind, we still have yet to experience two very important parts of living here- football season and winter. Oregon State is just down the street from our apartment and winter is notoriously gloomy. So, needless to say, our opinion might be a bit skewed.
I was also eager for the chance to work in adult oncology. Most places wouldn’t accept a travel nurse with limited adult oncology experience and no certification. Being a private clinic, the requirements weren’t as stringent. They were just glad I knew how to administer chemotherapy -they weren’t too picky about the average age of my population. The pace is much slower than what I’m accustomed to, but I’ve come to enjoy the break. I really like the other nurses I work with; despite a significant amount of turnaround in the last year, they have managed to create a really positive work environment in the face of a lot of uncertainty. The clinic seems to be constantly on the brink of disaster (for reasons I am not at liberty to divulge), but the nurses truly care about their patients and want to offer the best care possible.
Even with all of these positives, I just cannot deny that my true passion remains in pediatric hem/onc and I said as much to my manager and co-workers. That still didn’t stop them from trying to convince me to stay permanently. I was flattered, but guilt gnawed at me when I thought of leaving them high and dry come the holidays. It really does make a difference having that extra nurse available. So I offered to stay through January to help cover vacations until they could find someone permanent. Then, I bit the bullet, paid the hefty sum, and signed up to take my certification exam for pediatric hem/onc.
Something that has helped me keep my sanity through all this is looking at other travel jobs. It’s just a reminder to me that I can always go somewhere else and start new. But lately, I’ve found myself looking at more permanent positions, if only to assure myself that when the time comes I can find a job doing what I love. It was during one of these late night random browsings on Indeed.com that I came across, and eventually applied to a permanent job with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. It was a great opportunity involving their infusion center, focusing on groundbreaking research between Fred Hutchison, Seattle Children’s and University of Washington. I think I was scared that another opportunity like this wouldn’t come along and I threw myself out there, thinking “there’s no way.” After all, I had applied to a few permanent positions in Colorado and only heard back once.
It turns out that I did get a call from Seattle…and to make a long story short, I had an existential crisis. For pithiness sake, I have included a diagram to explain why I began to feel daily anxiety regarding my next steps.
I’m not really one to believe that everything happens for an ultimate purpose, but I do think that for all my worrying I am reminded of the many forces in our lives at work. One can only be open to the path that unfolds before us, rather than trying to predict what that path might be or where it might lead. I followed through with the interview, and discovered that they already filled the pediatric position internally. The remaining position was for adult infusion. Seeing as I already made my decision to continue with pediatric hem/onc, this seemed like a pretty easy fix. Luckily, the manager was very honest about their availability of pediatric positions and understanding regarding my decision to stay in pediatrics.
This experience did make me realize that if I truly want to stay in pediatric hem/onc, my options are going to be limited. We may not have the flexibility to move wherever our heart desires. In my dream world, I would work in a peds hem/onc clinic in Bend, OR, but life just doesn’t work that way. What I do have is a set of skills, a passion for my field and a wonderful partner to help us bloom wherever we are planted.