Thursday, July 29, 2010

Are you kidding me? Just 1 week until departure.

Believe it or not, the chaotic looking mess in the photo is about half of our stuff packed (or almost packed) for the trip. We have the kid's duffels and back packs stowed elsewhere and they are pretty much ready to go. Tamara has checklist after checklist we go over almost daily marking one thing after another off. We're getting close to being least on this side of the planet.

Our antipodean employer and licensing agencies, on the other hand, seem to have a bit too much blood rushing to their head due to their inverted position. And that's going to be the most polite way I can think to word it. If you've been following the blog you're aware that the application process for my Australian medical license as well as the process for getting my work Visa has been onerous, to say the least. But I persevered, dotted all the "i's" and crossed all the "t's", got everything in almost 2 months ago....and then I waited. Only in the past week or two have I finally heard from my hospital to learn that they have not done anything in the past 2 months...not one darn get the applications completed, and everything left for the AMC license and Visa is totally in their hands.

And then, on top of their neglect of those items, I got an email Sunday night/Monday morning with 45 PAGES of NEW material for a totally different licensing board that I must complete--an, oh....they need it right away!! I was working all week, and sleeping days...thank goodness for Tamara, she bird dogged all the paperwork, filled everything out, became a master scanner operator, and got all materials submitted within 48 hours---she's my hero, it was no small task.

Then, I hear from the US doctor who arrived in Sydney this week with whom I'm supposed to be working with for a couple of months in Port Macquarie...he has it even worse than I do, apparently. He showed up and the paperwork I got on Sunday he'd never gotten. Also, he apparently had to do an interview with the licensing board in Sydney--a mere formality he thought....not so fast, turns out that NOW he has to go to Melbourne to do yet another formal, face to face, interview with the specialty board! He's already contemplating turning around and coming home. He couldn't get a work visa either and is on a tourist visa with his family...and he's frustrated and pissed off--and rightly so.

I can't seem to get an email returned from the doctor in charge, I can't get solid information about what else there is to do to complete registration, whether I, too, will need to do an interview. Needless to say this is incredibly frustrating, particularly since I have gone out of my way to try to light a fire under the personnel responsible for getting this stuff done and have been ignored for 2 months.

But....we're looking at the bright side, we're still excited about the trip, and are already working on a "Plan B"...and maybe a "Plan C". Plan B is to spend the first few weeks traveling around Australia, on a tourist Visa, while the rest of the licensing process gets itself worked out. We'd planned to do that at the end of my 6 months of work, but we can do it at the front end instead...a change of plans, but not one we can't work with.

Plan C--if necessary--is that we'll contact one of the many Australia/New Zealand head hunter groups and let them help find us placement somewhere else that actually knows how to get the process done. We're bringing all my licensing materials along with us so we can reapply as there's a small chance we'll end up somewhere else other than Port Macquarie.

However, if things work out (and I really hope and expect they will), we will stay in Port Macquarie. They've actually reserved a house for us at 9 Scarborough Close, Port Macquarie, New South Wales, 2444, Australia

We're close to the hospital (about 2 miles), close to the beach (about a mile), and have canal access to the river. Even the airport is basically walking distance. The house has, we think, 4 bedrooms and a garage in the back, so there should be decent room for guests to stay if we snuggle up. For those who aren't into snuggling, there are 2 hotels that are essentially in our back yard.

Ok, I'll quick bitching and try to wrap up. We're close...I've got to finish packing my duffel today, we're going down to finish winterizing the lake house this afternoon and it'll be locked up tight for the next 10 months. We've got to shut down our cable, change our Dish subscription to basic, change our phone to basic. We're preparing the house for our house sitters and closing off the areas that won't be used to save heating/cooling cost. And by "We", I mean 90% of this is Tamara--since she stopped working a week ago she's been keeping amazingly busy taking care of all these tiny, but very important tasks. We've moved all of our mail notice to electronic, and that's no small thing.

The kids are super excited, but amazingly calm and ready for the trip. We've hardly had time to think about what most people would consider a major trip--our stop in Hawaii--right now it's basically a rest stop for us, but I think we'll enjoy the break, enjoy a little sight seeing, and a lot of time on the beach. My next major blog entry will either be the day we leave, or after we arrive in Hawaii.

Wish us luck....this is exciting, scary, fun, challenging...the whole constellation of stressors and thrills. 4 years coming to fruition in the next week...a bit surreal.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I'm so excited for Australia ! We go in two weeks. The town we're going to live in sounds awesome! It has 9 beaches and the only Koala hospital in the world! It is located in between Sydney and Brisbane, and is in New South Wales. When we go around the world, the country i'm most looking forward to is, Thailand. In third grade I studied it, and it seems like a really cool country. I am also really looking forward to Spain, because I just went to a Spanish camp, so when we're in Spain I can speak Spanish. This will be an adventure of a lifetime, and I will remember it forever.

Almost There!!!!!!

Heath 7-22-10
Wow.We have two weeks until we leave for the BIG TRIP.We've been doing a lot of packing!!!!! Take this,take that.WAIT!!!!!!!Don't take that!!.......A lot of work.Mom & Dad have been doing a lot!
Without them this trip would not be possible.As you probably know, we each get 1 duffel and our travel backpack for all of our clothes,hair products, deodorant,etc. We have our address in Australia.Home, not an apartment.


Ps. check out my website by clicking here

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Last Day at Work

Time off for Good Behavior...

So, Thursday, July 15 was my last day at work, and I have to tell you I have some really mixed feelings. I have never not worked since I got my medical degree in 1993 other than maternity leaves, and those were certainly no vacations! Practicing medicine is such a part of my self identity, that being "unemployed" is throwing me for a bit of a loop. Part of me already misses my patients and my wonderful colleagues with whom I spend so much of my time, and I am glad I was able to see so many of my patients for check ups before I left. Of course, on the other side, I am so excited about the upcoming adventure. To have the opportunity to bond as a family, live abroad, and experience different cultures and philosophies is a gift we couldn't pass up. I'm a little anxious about getting everything done in time, but, hey, I'm used to working under stress! Now if I could just whittle down the "to do" lists. It seems like I keep adding as much as I check off! A major accomplishment this weekend is getting the kids' duffels mostly packed. I'll try to complete mine this week. Poor Evan is on his own. Once we are packed, this trip will seem "really" real. So, Friends, keep your fingers crossed for me, and if this lady of leisure seems to be losing it, just remind me that it's only temporary, and life as I currently know it, work, and reality all return in May, 2011.
Signing off to go sit on the couch and eat bon bons,

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some reading

Medical Economics recently posted an article about a physician who spent a year doing a locum tenens position in Australia that I thought I'd share.

There seems to be some progress on my license and visa as someone at Port Macquarie hospital has taken my paperwork under her wing and is personally working on getting my things submitted. I'm optimistic that we'll finally hear something in the next week or two.

We're also close, we think, to getting our train from Sydney to Port booked...waiting for an email confirmation.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Just One Month 'Til Departure !!!

It's hard to believe, really. We started fantasizing and planning this trip at least 4 years ago. We needed to be tenured at our work, we needed the kids old enough to carry their own way and be able to negotiate the rigors of travel. We needed them to be able to understand, appreciate and remember at least some of what we'll see and experience. And yet we didn't want to wait too long where the kids had school activities that were hard to miss or be at a level in school where we really couldn't provide the educational experience they would need.

About 2-3 years ago we began saving money--a key component so that we'd be able to maintain our mortgages and home expenses and to be able to afford the expenses of traveling with 5 people for 2-3 months without income. A year ago I started the job planning for Australia in earnest--after my initial plan fell through in Harvey Bay. Through a friend I'd worked with at St. Johns I found a great job in Port Macquarie. We've planned the itinerary. We've made and extensive "to do" list for home.

And now we sit here a month away from the day we leave home for a solid 9 months!

While there are still a few loose ends (my license is held up b/c my Aussie employer has yet to send in paper work, and I can't get a Visa until I have a license), a Skype call yesterday has, hopefully, got the fire lighted under the proper derrières to get those items resolved.

Tamara has done the HUGE majority of the hard work here on the home front for planning. Every time I think of some little, but important item I'm sure we've never talked about, she has it written down on her official "Aussie Planning" list that she has slowly but steadily been working her way through.

The reality of the trip is really hitting us all. The kids are, maybe, more ready and less apprehensive than Tamara and I.

Today I've been attaching patches to our travel packs that show some of our prior travels. We've talked about what clothes, electronics, books and other essentials that we can't live without...and what has to stay behind for reasons of practicality.

Yea--The excitement is palpable here. The things left to do loom ominously, but I have no doubt we'll get everything done. Tamara is working just half the month so she can spend the final 3 weeks before we leave tying up loose ends. I'm going to work 17 more shifts in the ER b/w now and right up to the day of departure to try to maximize our income and give us some buffer until I start getting my salary from the Port Macquarie ER. Yep...we're excited, and almost ready...just one month--almost hard to believe.