Sunday, January 04, 2009

Back to the Grind

My month-long vacation (which wasn't really a vacation since I worked the whole time) is just about over. School starts up again on Monday, and this is going to be a difficult quarter because I have class from 10-2 on Monday and Friday, and then clinicals all day Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. For the past few quarters, I've had the 3-day a week clinicals, but only had class for 2 hours on Mondays only. So I'm picking up an additional 6 hours per week of class time, which also results in a proportional increase in studying time. Also, from what I understand, the classes I have this quarter are going to be difficult and require a lot of reading (Pathophysiology and Quality Assurance).

We spent Christmas at the in-laws, and then we just got back Saturday morning from the Lake, where we spent New Year's with M's sister and her family. We had a good time, and it was nice being down there all week with no one else around. The Lake isn't a popular place in the winter, and the resort where M's parents have their lake house was empty and quiet. We took a trip on Thursday out to Cumberland Falls, a place I had never been before. It was beautiful.

Cumberland Falls

That's not a picture I took; I found it on the Internet. But it gives a good view of the falls. The water flow was actually considerably heavier when we were there than what it is in this picture.

Cumberland Falls is apparently the only spot in the Western Hemisphere that produces a Lunar Rainbow - or what is more commonly called a "moonbow." On clear nights, particularly in the fall, when there is a full moon, it causes a rainbow to form. The rainbow colors are there, but you usually can't see them, so it look instead like a white or silvery rainbow.

Anyway...we had a nice time down there. Got back Saturday morning and I had to work Saturday evening. I also work on Sunday, and then - as I said - back to the grind of school on Monday. So my "time off" is essentially done - I don't know when I'll have an honest-to-God day off again.

I've been giving some thought to possibly eventually entering a Physician Assistant master's program. If I did it, it wouldn't be for a couple of years - obviously I want to finish my X-ray program, and work for a while in the field, before I make any final decisions. But I've been looking at P.A. programs, and I think I would enjoy it and be able to do well. P.A.'s, of course, are a step below doctors, and they work with doctors, usually doing the more routine things, thereby allowing the doctors to focus on the more difficult patients/procedures. I've worked with several P.A. Radiologists, and I think I would enjoy doing that - they do a lot of fluoro examinations, and they read X-rays etc. The pay is also really good - according to the Department of Labor, the average 1st year P.A. makes 70K per year, and the top 10% of P.A.'s make over 100K.

I've looked into a program in Kettering, OH, which is near Dayton. It's a Master's Degree program, and takes two years - you basically do a year of classes, then a year of rotations - not unlike what medical school students do, with required rotations and then "elective" rotations so you can get experience in whatever field of medicine you are interested in. I would have to take about 3 semesters' worth of prerequisite classes first, however, because my degree is in History, not one of the sciences. So it would probably take me about 3 years, all together.

So anyway...maybe 4 or 5 years down the road. I suppose it will depend on how much I like the medical field once I am out there working, how much I'm making as a radiographer, how much opportunity I have for advancement wherever I'm working, how my writing is panning out, etc., etc.

I haven't forgotten that I'm a fiction writer, by the way. I do still dream of writing novels and publishing books and writing for a living. I just haven't written any fiction in about two years. I knew that's what would happen when I went back to school - which is why I didn't do it until after I was 30. That's also why I say that my writing aspirations will play a role in deciding whether or not to go back to school AGAIN in 4 or 5 years.

I have a file on my computer with a list of about 10 book ideas, some of which predate starting school, and some that I've developed in the last few years. I even have rough outlines on a couple of them. So I have plenty of material to work with once I get back to having a normal lifestyle again. Of course, with all my loan debt, I'm going to have to work a lot of overtime when I get out of school, and possibly even have to get a second job somewhere - so it's not like I'm going to graduate and suddenly go back to working 40 hours a week again, and having the rest of the time to myself (for writing) and my family.

The important thing is that it is now 2009, that seemingly long-awaited year that I finally graduate. Granted, it won't happen until December, but it at least feels nice that it's finally 2009. 2009 seemed like a very long time in the future when I was starting this program in 2006.

I just finished the book The Last Week, written by scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, discussing the story of the final week of Jesus' life as depicted in the Gospel of Mark. It's a fascinating exegesis (interpretation) of that text, and I highly recommend it. It's written for the average reader, and interprets the text within its own context, meaning it's not about any attempts at a historical reconstruction or proving that this story or that story is true or not true. It's simply a look - almost a sermon, if you will - about what Mark is saying about Jesus' last week on earth. Very, very enlightening. I would even say inspiring.

We're having a middle-of-the-night thunderstorm in January. Very odd. There's probably a poem in there somewhere, but I'm not sure I'm up to it.


Laura said...

Wow Scott, that's some schedule! And you still find time to read! Don't you start to feel any burnout after a while?

Scott said...

Yes, it's an awful schedule, and yes I feel extreme burnout, though mostly with work and household duties, more than school. I really enjoy my clinicals. The classroom stuff is a drag, but most of my school stuff each week takes place in the clinical sites, and I really enjoy it. I've been doing C-Arm Fluoro procedures in the O.R. this week and it's really been fascinating.