Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Biggest Disappointment in Dominica

I am going to share something here that has caused me a huge amount of pain. In fact, I cannot think about this issue without tears coming to my eyes. Truly. I have cried many hours about this.

Dominica will not let me be a nurse here.

I have over 26 years of nursing experience in the U.S. I am licensed in 2 states. My most recent experience was working in intensive care, cardiac catheterization, and hemodialysis. In the U.S. these are skills in high demand. In fact, earlier this year I toyed with the idea of going back to the U.S. to work some and we had to quit answering the telephone. We screened calls with the answering machine because the number of hospitals calling in response to my emails of inquiry became burdensome. I never dreamed when I moved here that Dominica would not want me.

Nursing has been a big part of my life. It is who I am. It is how I see myself. I suppose that is understandable since I have spent a majority of my life as a nurse. In fact, I find myself with a bit of a midlife identity crisis now. Who am I, if I am not a nurse? I know I wrote the ebook about our move to the island, but I have not devoted my life to writing the way I did to nursing. Writing is not my self esteem. It is not my identity. It is not my love the way nursing has been.

So, the reality is that if I want to do the work I love, I must leave my home on this island. I must leave my spouse, (and after being married over 30 years, I don't think I can manage without Mr. Wizard at my side). I would also have to leave the place of my residency and where I plan to be a citizen. I would have to leave my home. It is a terrible choice and I don't think I can do this.

So my career is over. My hands are empty. I will never again know the satisfaction of nursing the ill, or helping to save a life. I will never again be a participant in the miracle of modern medicine. I am grieving. And the skills I worked so very hard to master are fading away, unwanted and unused.

Dominica, you ask too much of me. You have taken too much from me. There is an emptiness in my heart that even the beauty of this island cannot fill. I used to know who I am. I don't know any longer.

livingdominica: I wrote the above in a fit of angst. I think the grief I have felt over this issue embodies the necessary grief all expats experience. Moving to a new country is HARD, and all of the difficulty gets tied up in the grieving of my career. I will get over this. I HAVE to get over it since Mr. Wizard proclaims he will never leave this island. But no, I do not want to hear you preening about your lovely successes working least right now.


billy said...

sucks major. i mean why can't they recognize ya qualifications? i don't think it is fair.

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jam said...

Why will they not allow you to work as a nurse in Dominica? And who have you spoken with?

Anonymous said...

Have you considered teaching? I'm sure there are many Dominicans who could benefit from your years of experience and training. Why not talk with the hospital about setting up a training program for the nurses or Ross University.

Anonymous said...

Poor you! Ever heard the Stones sing "You can't always get what you want"? Your island paradise has major flaws, and I speak from experience as an American expatriate living here for 37 years. Either suck it up or do something to change the Dominican way of thinking - and the best of British luck with that!

Jen said...

The loud sucking noise you hear is me actively sucking it up.

Changing anything (other than myself) is not in my job description.

Jen said...

Here is a follow up I wrote to a kind reader who was advocating for me with the powers that be. She suggested I might volunteer. Here is my response:

I, too, have decided that volunteering is the way to go. My arthritic knees don't have much nursing left in them anyway, I am sad to admit!

I have since heard from others that I probably did not do enough face time to make licensure happen. I simply filled out forms and spoke to people on the phone. I did not spend a lot of time making face to face contacts, which I have been told is key. So my clumsy American approach probably had something to do with the response.

I am still learning how to swim in these cultural waters, and sometimes the learning curve is painful.

Thank you for your help on my behalf. I was terribly disappointed when this happened, but I do believe things happen for a reason. I am sure I will find a spot to be "useful" in Dominica when the time is right. Meanwhile, I have a lot of fun noodling with the silly blog and planning the house we are preparing to build.