It seems every Friday I have another question for my wonderful readers. Just to update, over the last couple of week you’ve helped me decide what to do with a windfall (It’s in the vacation fund for now, but part will go into stocks when there is a market correction) and helped me decide that good service is the most important thing with my phone, although I’m still not sure whether I need a smart phone or not. This week, I have been presented with an unexpected opportunity, a new job offer.
As you may already know, I have transitioned from being a workaholic business owner/optometrist to a part time optometrist who works at three different places; two private offices and for an Indian Health Service clinic. I am averaging about three days a week currently.
A few weeks ago, an optometrist called me out of the blue and offered a part time position with a large referral center just across the border in New Mexico. She got my name from a colleague who works full time for Indian Health. It is a small community, and if you have the training and personality to work with that population, it opens lots of doors. A great percentage of patients in this practice come from the reservation. For the most part, this is the place after the primary care clinic can no longer meet your needs and you require specialized services.
Life is never that easy because there are a few conditions.
- It is a 70 mile drive. This is actually not a huge deal to me if I don’t have to do it every day. One of the offices I work in currently is that far, but over a mountain pass, so this would be an easy drive in comparison.
- I would have to get a New Mexico license. New Mexico, for whatever reason, is one of the harder states to get licensed in. Most states allow you to obtain a license after passing all three parts of a national board exam plus a treatment/management of ocular disease test. A few require a separate exam. The New Mexico exam is very difficult and consists of a practical portion and an oral exam about eye disease cases.
Now, if I were to pass or fail on my own merit, I have no problem with that, but it has long been know that if you have the right or wrong connections, it greatly influences your scores in New Mexico. Years ago, the oral part consisted of an interview. The examiners asked where you intended to practice. If it was in direct competition to a high ranking optometrist in the pecking order, you failed. It has improved over the years, and it is really a test of skills and knowledge now, but some believe the oral portion is still the way it is so that the examiners reserve the right to fail you. Often the board of a state does not want too many doctors, and this is a way to ensure the ones already there can continue to make money. It’s not right or fair, but it is what it is. Without written results to argue a score, it’s pretty much he said/she said, and if you piss off the board, you can never hope to get a license .
The test is given one time a year, and it costs $575 to take, non-refundable, plus $100 for a CPR course, and then another $200 if you pass. It is held in Santa Fe over a three day period, so I would incur travel expenses as well. I have to decide and have the money in by June 24th. I do believe the company who is trying to hire me has a good reputation, and I would be likely to pass if I can meet the requirements, but you never know. I will also be reimbursed the fees if I pass and go to work for this company.
Now, the more important question is, do I even want this opportunity? Honestly, I don’t know. If my current positions continue as they are, probably not. However, once my business sale is final, I have no job security. I think I’m well liked and do a good job, but there are many other factors that influence employment other than doing a good job. Ironically, I interviewed and was offered a position with this company before I went into private practice. It would be like coming full circle. I have no doubt that the work would be challenging, and it’s no secret that medical optometry is my favorite part. Not that I don’t like fitting disposable contacts, but it’s not the most exciting thing in the world.
As far as hours and pay, there is tons of flexibility. Because of the difficulty of obtaining a New Mexico license, there just aren’t any doctors to hire, especially in this area, and certainly not many who want to work part time. If someone moved up from Albuquerque, they would want full time with full benefits. The position offered is currently for one or two days a week plus fill in for other doctors when needed. Realistically, I could probably negotiate a deal to work two days a week and make as much as I’m making for three now. That would also mean I would either have to go back to working 5 days a week, which I don’t want, or leaving one of my other positions. I really love everywhere I work and would hate to do that. Regardless, if I don’t take the test, I lose the opportunity for at least a year, maybe forever. Even if I get the license and don’t take the job, I would hold a pretty coveted piece of paper, which might come in handy down the road. Part of me says jump at the opportunity. Part of me says chill out.
I’d be out the fees and whatever it costs to keep the license current, but it might not be a bad deal, assuming I could pass the thing in the first place. If I never ended up using it, it would be a total waste of money and all this worry.
What should I do? Should I shell out and take the test or avoid it altogether? Am I too pessimistic about my current employment situation?