Cassie Shepherd

August 20, 2011

A PA to BE

Aw, aren't they great?

Mitch has two more full weeks of school before he is out for his big three week break. That means finals are coming up. This has been one of his harder semesters, but he is still thoroughly enjoying it.

Today I was working on writing Mitchell's essay for applications to do clinical rotations. Can someone please remind me why I always end writing these types of things!? I can't believe we are already thinking about this. Time has gone by so fast! It seems like just yesterday we were unpacking and getting ready for orientation.

Our options for rotations are bitter sweet. I'm looking forward to the possibility of going back to Utah. With that option comes many happy and sad realizations. I'm dreading the unstable housing arrangement we may be forced to cope with. 

When we were accepted into PA school I wrote in my blog post, "Mitch and I have felt some what directionless the last couple of months because every decision we seem to have to make always rides on another more important decision that is sometimes out of our control. Like offers we've had in on houses and what our plans are for graduate school." For the last year we have been pretty relaxed. We haven't had to make any life altering decisions. Now, we have to start stirring the pot again. 

I'll explain our options in detail. First I need to clarify some general facts about his rotations. I also need to explain my feelings in regards to working and my education.

Rotations begin the second week in April. They last five weeks at a time. There is a one week break between every two rotations where Mitch has to be in Savannah to test. There are eight rotations all together. Ideally, we want to do rotations in the city we want to live in. This allows him to build repertoire and open options to getting a job. Mitch will graduate in April of 2013.

The thought alone of leaving the family I work with could sway me to stay and settle in Georgia forever. I know my family will always be there - whether I am in Utah or Georgia. However, I feel like I have a second family here. When we move, my relationship with them will naturally change. I'm sure we'd still stay in touch, but a new nanny will replace me. The girls will grow and I'll be a memory. Perhaps, one day we will return and visit, but I'm afraid the distance will change the relationships that I have with them more then I'd like to admit. I recognize that Mitchell's career takes precedence and it would be unrealistic to think the family I work with will need me forever. I understand we will ultimately move on, but that good-bye isn't something I am looking forward to. 

My education is really quite simple. With it being on-line I am flexible to move and work on it wherever I am. My last semester should be Fall of 2012 - about a year plus some from now.
  •  Georgia and Utah Rotations
    • We would begin here thus extending our time in Georgia. Mitch would most likely do two rotations. This option would save us money traveling back and forth one time. Mitch would probably choose two areas of study that he doesn't want to pursue a career in. This would put us here until the end June 2012. At that point we would most likely completely move to where the majority of our rotations are. Mitch would return every ten weeks by plane to test. I'd most likely get a new job and work on finishing up my last semester. I nice advantage to this is that it allows me to at least extend working a few extra months. The girls would be out of school and their transition for a new nanny would be smooth.
  • Utah only Rotations
    • Under this option falls multiple options but they can be summarized into two basic alternatives.
      • Mitch moves to Utah. I stay here. My job is stable and financially perfect for while I am in school. Chances are a new job in Utah would mean more hours with less pay and flexibility. Ugh. If Mitch's rotations are taking him all over the state every five weeks we would have to have an apartment in one place so I could hold a steady job. However, I probably wouldn't be with him except for some weekends. We've strongly considered me staying in Georgia so I can keep the job I love until Mitch is more permanently stable in one area. 
      • We both move to Utah. If Mitch will have stable rotations in one area/region then I will move with him whenever the opportunity is best for both of us.
I don't know if I have mentioned this, but Mitch and I want to settle in St. George. We LOVE going to the parade of homes there. Before we were even married we talked about living there when we would go down on mini vacations together. So, we are aiming to complete as many rotations there as possible. Dixie Regional Medical Center only allows two rotations to be done at the hospital though. We would most likely be responsible for finding other small clinics for him to do his other rotations in. He would also most likely have to branch out to some smaller surrounding cities.

Another influencing factor is that we want to use a program called Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) once Mitch graduates. Through HRSA you can obtain a loan re-payment program. We would promise to live in a medically underserved area for two years and they would re-pay up to $60,000 of our financial aid and he would get paid full salary. We have worked it out so that our debt won't exceed that so this is really appealing. Plus, St. George easily qualifies for this type of area so it would be perfect.

We also believe parts of Salt Lake and Utah Counties might qualify as a HRSA approved sight. If we find it difficult to get rotations or a job in St. George our second options would be to look in this area. Mitch doesn't particularly care what area we are in out of Salt Lake or Utah County. However, I am rather opposed to living south of Draper. Ideally, I want to be in St. George, obviously, but if that doesn't work out I am pushing for Salt Lake area. We have connections in both, but probably stronger connections in Utah County. However, I think they are last on our list.

A negative draw back to the St. George area is that we've heard it pays less then the Utah and Salt Lake County areas. This is a ways down the road to worry about, but it does come to the back of our minds. Unless it was dramatically different, I would take a lower salary to be able to live in St. George. At least, that is my opinion right now. 

Another day I'll write about my plans for using my education, but that will take too long to explain on this post. Those thoughts are still dreams and aren't as sure as the path we are on with Mitchell's schooling, but it is a component and I know they will eventually unfold wherever we are.

Meanwhile, this week our goal is to finish getting his application in for rotations in Southern Utah. We'll also gather the information necessary to submit to South for doing rotations out of state. 

Then, we will begin waiting. 

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