The Beginning of Phase Two?

May 19, 2012

So work has been incredibly busy and emotionally draining the last 6 months or so. Usually in the winter we have a few months where things slow down a bit, but not this year! Good thing all in all but we are very tightly staffed so we have all been run ragged. Plus we have had a disproportionate number of very old, very sick, very not-going-to-get-better-what-the-hell-is-the-goal-here-exactly cases. These are part of ER/Critical care work but we have had SO MANY. All the time. And we have been doing SOO many surgeries at night. The last 2 years I’ve worked at this hospital I do maybe one major surgery on my shift every 2-3 weeks. The last 6 months? One about every 2 out of 3 shifts. A surgery cuts 4-8 hours out of the day so it’s a huge encumbrance to deal with.

Suffice it to say, I’m a bit fatigued. It’s not exactly burn-out, I still enjoy my work and really enjoy the place I work at. But I definitely have some compassion fatigue going on and generalized worn-out exhaustion. I have a 10 day vacation in a month with plans to do a lot of nothing so that should help some. In general, I have been thinking about an exit plan for the last year or so — what to do when I no longer can/want to do clinical medicine.

Today I was doing some wistful thinking about only working part-time in clinics. Seems like a far-off dream when Pets At Home had built up more, or I was burning out, or when I had enough money saved to take a plunge to develop PAH. And then I ran the budget numbers this morning. Guess what I discovered?

I can go to 2/3 time. Right. Now. If I want to.

Wow.

What with the raises of the last year (this week was RaiseDay for the first time in 3 years at work for performance raises and I got $0.33/hr!) and new savings in grocery spending…..I am in a position to move from fulltime (3 shifts/week) to 2/3 time (2 shifts/week) – WITHOUT changing my lifestyle one teeny little bit. The only requirements? Cut my monthly savings from $1000/mo to $650/mo, drop my gym membership $50/mo (that I have been terrible about using anyways), work 1 extra shift/mo, and make at least $250/mo with PAH (or work a total of 2 extra shifts/mo). Even if I don’t take ANY extra shifts or make ANY money with PAH (not a realistic turn of events) – I would just cut my savings contribution that month and still come out ahead.

This is a mind-boggling realization and very tempting! I *think* that I could likely even get away with it at work without too many repercussions. I see a definite potential for my missing shift to be covered easily, I still have private health insurance to compensate for the employer-paid, and I would still be part-time enough to qualify for lowered amounts of other benefits (paid time off, uniform allowance, CE allowance, etc). So I would hopefully lose nothing by dropping one shift/mo — and gain more sleep, more time to develop other things like speeches, CE presentations, and setting up/promoting PAH. Also would have more flexibility in my schedule to take a greater number of PAH jobs — so I can actually work towards promoting for more business! As PAH profit grows, I could if I wanted to continue stepping back from clinical practice. I think realistically I could be entirely out of scheduled clinical practice within a year or two if I desired to develop PAH that fast.

My poor HR manager, she’s going to really be blindsided when I talk to her about this during my mentor meeting on Thursday. We’ve lost a number of long-term people in the last few months and have had a huge graveyard shift turnover for the 2nd time in 8 months. This is going to worry and stress her but I think it may actually be an opportune time for the clinic — I see a very easy way to staff my missing shift. Plus, this is better than totally burning out and leaving altogether. I hope she will be able to be behind me on this and we will be able to make it happen. It’s such a bizarre and thrilling idea to NOT work fulltime! And to potential be on the track to never have to work fulltime again.

I’ll keep you posted!

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