So far, the top two questions asked of me when I tell people we’re moving to Mexico are: 1.) where are you moving, and 2.) are you going to work?
I’ve been hedging on the work question. Seven years after graduation, I still love my job as a veterinarian, but I’d be disingenuous if I didn’t admit that there’s a fair bit of fatigue at this point in my career. There’s an interesting movement afoot exploring the concept of compassion fatigue amongst health care practitioners. It started with an MD named Rachel Remen, and it centers on the idea that people who spend much of their day delivering difficult news to people regarding themselves or their loved ones are likely to burn out quickly in their jobs, unless they learn to take care of themselves. Last winter I helped to teach a class to veterinary students at CSU on this concept. The class was modified from Dr. Remen’s model, and CSU is the first veterinary school (after many medical schools) to offer the class. I got involved with the project because I believe giving future veterinarians the tools to deal with the stresses of their jobs will help them to thrive long-term in their careers.
So, yeah, I’m looking forward to some time away from practice. I’m hoping to do a lot of writing and cooking, and maybe a book will even come out of it. We have followed the Paleo diet for more than five years now, and I think a cookbook adapting traditional Mexican dishes to be “Paleo-friendly” would be fun, and something others might enjoy. There’s also the thought that a book that’s about what it’s like to take your family to a foreign country to live for a year might be entertaining as well, assuming it was well done, since that idea has been done already.
But lately I’ve realized that I’d probably miss the practice of veterinary medicine if I stopped it altogether for a year. Last weekend I made an inquiry in the form of an email sent to a rescue in San Miguel, Sociedad Protectora de Animales, mentioning that I’ll be living there for a year starting this summer, and would be happy to help out if they could use me. In less than ten minutes I had an enthusiastic reply, stating that they would LOVE to have me. About an hour later I heard from the organization’s director, who told me that she wished she could get me down there sooner. So clearly, they could use some help.
The Sociedad has a staff veterinarian, and in addition to running an adoption service they provide low-cost veterinary care. They do spays and neuters, hospitalize sick animals, provide vaccinations, and even have dentistry equipment. According to the director I don’t need a work permit, at least for this year, although this is something that I am currently researching. I had been thinking I would bring some acupuncture supplies and at least do a little of that, but our real estate agent indicated that not having the proper documentation could easily anger the local veterinarians.
So I’m excited about the possibility of helping out what looks like a worthwhile organization, although I must admit to some trepidation regarding practicing in this setting. I’m used to working in a state-of-the-art clinic, and I’m pretty certain I don’t even remember how to set a fluid rate without an infusion pump. I told them I’m far from fluent in Spanish, and the folks I spoke with said this wouldn’t be a problem, but from their web site pictures the clinic staff looks Mexican. Oh well – guess it will be another form of emersion.