Lots of questions come my way about what I’ll actually be doing once I arrive, so I thought I’d briefly outline what I understand my job responsibilities to be and then I’ll give my best shot at what I expect it to be like. It’ll be interesting to see how closely my expectations line up with the realities once I hit the ground. But for now, here goes:
My job responsibilities will be
- to give primary care to the folks who work in the embassy and their family members, including two sets of twin baby boys and a newborn! 🙂 (This includes all their annual physicals, the babies’ well baby care, the sick visits, managing chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, etc.–anything you would go to your family doc for. This also includes encouraging everyone to be diligent with their malaria prevention!)
- to oversee the health clinic, staffed by a Burundian nurse and lab tech who have been there for many years.
- to coordinate care for emergencies, which of course is the scariest part of all. Can we start a prayer chain now for NO EMERGENCIES for the next two years??
- to organize medevacs, which probably aren’t as sexy as they sound. This includes not only emergencies, but anything a person would need to obtain elsewhere, like specialist care.
- to regularly assess the local medical capabilities — the hospitals, the specialists, the emergency care, to know what is available locally.
- to engage in health promotion and prevention activities.
I may be overlooking some of the details, like attending country team meetings and being actively engaged in emergency preparedness, but I think that’s the bulk of it.
On the one hand, it sounds like a lot, but on the other hand, the embassy community is pretty small, so I expect it to be manageable. Here are some of my other expectations:
- I expect to be on call 24/7, which is a lot, but again, it’s not like I’ll be seeing 30 patients a day and then going home and being on call.
- I expect that if I’m up all night taking care of an urgent matter, I’ll be able to sleep a bit the next day because the patient schedule won’t be jammed packed full.
- I expect to be able to give really good, thorough care because I will know my patients well, be very accessible to them, and have the time to spend with them.
- I expect to have plenty of help and support just a phone call away from my Regional Medical Officer in Nairobi and my colleagues in neighboring countries, many of whom I’ve already been in touch with.
- I expect to have some days when I feel like I can handle everything that comes my way, and other days when I wonder what in the heck I’ve gotten myself into and why am I doing this and what did that infectious disease doc tell me about diarrhea again?
- I expect it will be a challenge to get time away since there won’t be much other coverage, but I expect that eventually I will figure that out too.
- I expect to love the patient care aspect of it, and I expect it will take me a while to figure out the rest of the aspects of it, especially the paperwork part. 🙁
- I expect to work hard and I expect it to be demanding and I expect there will be a steep learning curve, at least at first.
- I expect to really love it overall, but I expect to encounter some really challenging adjustments. I want to go in optimistic, but not unrealistic, with a good dose of realism to go along with my eternally optimistic rose-colored glasses.
- I expect to have fun.
- I expect to work hard and play hard and that should suit me just fine.
Things I don’t expect:
I don’t expect it will look like this, but you have to admit, it’s a fun picture anyway:
So that’s it in a nutshell. I’ll enjoy going back over this a few weeks after arrival and see how reality stands up against my expectations.
The second part of this post was to be about my hopes and dreams–a little more personal than job responsibilities and expectations–but I’m going to pull the procrastination card one more time and save it for another post. I’m still sorting through all that. I’ll keep you posted, pun intended.