It has been a nice, relaxed Sunday so far, and I am now blogging while listening to Jason Mraz's amazing cd. The easy thing to do would be to write about random things, bitch about work, or show you some glimpses of Mytilene and the amazing places that I am discovering day by day. But the question remains, and something tells me I shouldn't avoid it any more - what the heck should I do?
But before I present you with the dilemma, I should first explain why I am in Mytilene and what brought me here.
It has been a hard winter for me, as you may have already realised here. Upon graduating, I wrote my name on the NOTORIOUS waiting list, in order to start a residency some day. That means that I have chosen a medical specialty, and for five years I will work in my hospital of choice as a trainee (or a slave - it depends on how you choose to see it!) . After that, I will be a licensed *whatever-ist* and I will be free to either open up my own practice, or continue to work as an attending doctor in a hospital (and torture other poor interns in turn!)
The specialty I chose was Pathology.
Now, my dear readers, I know this choice might come as a shock. After all, I may seem weird at times, but THAT weird? Well... to be honest... yes.
But how did I transform from this
Don't get me wrong, I actually love people. Alive and kicking, breathing, warm people, who have all their organs in place. But discovering what went wrong with some patients, first-hand, while treating them with the utmost respect and responsibility, also fascinates me. And this specialty doesn't have to do with the deceased only. Pathologists also get to examine biopsies (from suspicious masses, for example) and determine if they are malignant or benign, agressive or not, so that the fellow oncologists will know what course to follow. Unlike other specialties, which involve a lot of speculation, in Pathology, the truth is out there, in front of you. You just have to use your eyes and your hands to see it.
But my choice of specialty was not based on the subject only. First of all, there was minimal waiting time, in order to start - 1 1/2 year, while for Endocrinology, for example, 10 years were necessary. And while I may have Greek parents that are willing to support me for as long as it is necessary, I also know that I need to rely on myself at some point. Furthermore, as a Pathologist, I will have flexible working hours. And while work itself does not scare me, the thought of not having a family, because I will be too busy to be there for them, really gives me the creeps.
So... a Pathologist. Starting spring 2010. But until then, what?
Nothing - I thought as I was slowly sinking in misery. And suddenly, things started to look up. A job opportunity in Mytilene came, and I took it.
But what is this job?
Well, in Greece, there are hospitals in big towns, but in small villages, there are public practices, staffed with either already licensed general practitioners (the big ones), or medical graduates, known as "agricultural doctors" (in villages where less than 1,000 people reside). These practices are tiny, and not heavily equipped, but their doctors can meet basic needs - such as measuring blood pressure, or prescribing medicine, when people run out. If the patient's problem is too serious, he/she is immediately transferred to the hospital, of course. But for elderly people, living away from big urban centers and being unable to move easily, these doctors are actually a big help and relief.
Agricultural doctors are employed for a year (and then another comes), and basically you have to be extra lucky to get a place. You apply for two villages anywhere in Greece and then, for each place, whoever has the more "points" gets it. Points are determined according to waiting time after graduation - for every 2 months that pass after you have graduated, you get 1. As a result, students who are unemployed for the most time after graduating, have more points and then get the much-wanted place.
Me, only a few months after graduation, I had 4 points. They were ridiculously inadequate, so I had to make a wild guess - apply for a remote place, one that nobody would think of choosing. I thought of faraway Mytilene, and I was lucky: I got the place!
So I came here, knowing nothing about the island and way of life, and I am now training at the hospital for 3 months. After that, I will move to the village and be the "village's doctor"! Luckily, the island is beautiful, the people are amazing and most importantly, the place does not "hibernate" during the winter - with 90,000 people residing on it, things are pretty lively even in January.
But, as wise people say, when it rains, it pours. And just when I was getting settled and used to my new everyday life, I'll maybe have to leave again. This is the dilemma I am facing right now, and I need all the help I can get to decide.
After realising that this post is too long (as usual), I will write the specifics tomorrow. Until then, have a fun Sunday night and a wonderful Monday morning, everybody!