And now five years later, we’ve gone back! So in an attempt to understand it fully myself, I’ll try to lay out some of our thinking here.
During our prior time here, I applied to the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM) to become a Fellow of their College. Having this designation (FACEM) is equivalent to my American Board of Emergency Medicine board certification. After going through the application and interview process, the ACEM folks required that I return for a three months of supervised work at one of the training hospitals here in New Zealand. They allowed me five years to complete this requirement.
Liz and I set some financial goals a long time ago. One of those was to pay off my med school loans by the end of 2016. To be clear, this was not a small number. Since moving to Kentucky, we were able to be aggressive about that goal, and in December we made the last big payment. Returning to New Zealand was the reward we planned if we met that goal.
Last year I contacted my old boss in New Zealand, and it just so happened that they had a doctor taking a sabbatical for three months. My employer in Louisville (very graciously) allowed me a three month leave of absence. Much paperwork ensued, and gradually we had a work contract, work and visitor visas, a medical license, air travel tickets, and finally housing all secured.
So that’s the how of it, but what’s the why? If you’ve talked to us at all since we were here previously, it was probably (annoyingly?) obvious that we loved our time in New Zealand. It’s easy to fall in love with this place with its amazing and diverse landscapes, laid-back lifestyle, and genuinely kind people.
I consider myself fortunate to have the job that I do, but emergency medicine is not an easy job. It is a physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing role. This three month stint will allow me to take a bit of a break from the madness. Consider it a mental health sabbatical.
One of our family’s core values is adventure. While we like living in Louisville, it does lack a bit of the geographic diversity that we fell in love with here. Having the opportunity to get our boys (and ourselves) out in nature in some new ways. Cohen was only two years old when we were here last, so he doesn’t have much memory of the amazing landscapes we saw on our walks. Now that both boys are older, I’m stoked to get them a little deeper into the woods, so to speak.
All of those reasons, plus the opportunity to obtain my Fellow of the Australasian College of Medicine designation, made it too good to pass up.
So keep checking back with us here at The Far Side of the Sea. We’ll try to keep the words and pretty pictures coming.