Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sabbatical FAQ

The last two weeks have been filled with goodbyes and well wishes.  Man, if you ever want to feel grateful for your life-- start saying good bye to it! That said, we feel really good about making this step with our family and the experience we will create with our kids.

We have found through the last couple weeks that most people are a little confused with this crazy life of ours.  I thought I would take a bit to give a little history on how this plan came to be and the questions that have come up over and over again.

Why are you moving to Alaska?

Alaska was really secondary to the experience.  There were a couple conversations that happened in rapid succession that made us think that there was a greater fate at play.  Matt did want to get a deeper clinical experience but probably more importantly we wanted to create a kick-ass experience for the family.   We have several people who we admire who have done similar things with their families and we wanted to follow suit.   It so happened that I was in a career transition and James has two years until kindergarten: Moons aligned, fates spoke and we realized that the risk regret from not taking this time as a family could be worse than just doing it!

So Alaska. . . . After we decided to do this we looked at programs or areas in which we had an interest:  medical experience, family bonding and an opportunity for something new.  In the past we had talked at length about spending an extended time in Africa but frankly with James' hearing and our own student loans that would be difficult to swing.   Matt has had a couple good friends spend time in Alaska and since they are often short on physicians. . .

I am most looking forward to the time with our kids.  It's really incredible that we can have this time with them. 

How did you pick Ketchikan? 

We really came down to places where there are hospitals and who also hire 'hospitalists.' (Matt's position).   There were a couple front runners including Ketchikan and Anchorage.  There are very different  trade-off's associated each location. (There would be more for me to do professionally and possibly socially in the Anchorage area, but as Matt put it-- we don't want to just move to another cul-de-sac and call it an Alaskan experience.).  Ketchikan is a town of about 10,000 people in the very south of Alaska.  It's a mix of tourism and fishing and has a big arts community.   Matt also had a very good friend do some medical work there and spoke highly of the hospital and the community.  We have been really impressed by the people there and think it will be a great fit!

What will Matt be doing? 

Professionally, Matt will be in essence doing the same thing he does in the Twin Cities.  There are some new experiences and procedures and he is excited about becoming a better physician through the process.  Ketchikan is a smaller hospital then where he is now so there is more autonomy in the role.  

Personally, Matt will be fishing, praying and hiking.  It's maybe my perspective here, but I think Matt has been working hard for years to get through med school and residency-- all while having a family.  I think this will be a great way for him to succeed professionally and personally.

What will Dana be doing? 

Well, having a baby this summer for starters.  Actually, I am not entirely sure of the full answer here.  I don't do well with large blocks of unstructured time so I will indeed have a plan and a schedule for how I spend my days.  I won't write too much about this now since we can certainly touch on this later as I figure my shit out.

Time has always been my scarcest resource so it's an amazing gift to be able to do some things that I haven't had time for in the past.  We have made the decision that I won't work full-time during this 18 month period.   Matt works 26 weeks a year so if I don't work, we have 26 weeks a year to travel, enjoy our kids, hike and make awesome breakfasts in the morning.  If I do work, we have 3 weeks a year for the above.  So. . . . *   Let the hobby exploration begin!

Plan pending.

Where will you live?

We rented a house in the woods.  We will post pics once we are there but it's certainly not in a cul-de-sac sac!  Actually, we won't have neighbors, mail service or several other amenities that we are accustomed to.  We are super excited though and are glad to have an interesting experience.  

Are you moving back to MN or will you become one of those "Alaska" people?

We did keep our house and are renting it out.  Unless something really changes, we plan to come back to Minnesota in the fall of 2015 so that James can start kindergarten here.  We have found that the best things in our life seem to happen when we are flexible and go with the flow so I do recognize that plans can change.**  We'll see.

*Not to be obvious, we also have less financial resources if I don't work. . . but it seems like a fair trade off for the experience. 
**For example, this whole Alaska thing wasn't on our radar until it was.  Through this process we have also met several folks who are on year 5 of their 6 month plan.  

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