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Working in Alaska – After License Suspension

2017 is when my drama began with Kaiser. In 2018, Oregon suspended my medical license for 30 days. I had a reciprocal suspension by California and a separate hearing into my case. Fast forward to 2024, and it took a little over a year to get a state medical license in Alaska and just a week to get my first denial by a locums agency.

Getting a Job Afer a License Suspension

From time to time, laypeople stumble on this website, and they leave comments to the effect that I deserved the 30-day license suspension. However, most docs I’ve spoken with would agree that I definitely made a mistake in my case, but a license suspension was a bit absurd.

7 years later, I am still dealing with the after-effects, but it’s not all bad. The great news is that there is life after a medical board investigation. It’s an unpleasant experience, but doors open up afterward you never anticipated.

Getting a State Medical License in Alaska

I posted the above LinkedIn post after finally getting my state medical license in Alaska. I had to appear virtually before the medical board, and they were quite professional about the whole thing. But a year to get a license – that blows my mind.

I even reached out to the medical commissioner of the DHS of Alaska, and they weren’t in a rush to get back. I was told by a staff member that I needed to contact the medical board again.

Maybe healthcare access is not as dire in Alaska as advertised.

Applying With a Locums Agency

A PA friend mentioned the locum company she works with called Wilderness Medical Staffing. I spoke to one of their recommended recruiters and started with the lengthy onboarding process.

Of course, I mentioned my history of license suspension and that I’d been hired by other medical groups without any major issues. But after filling out their applications, I received this message:

I discussed your background with the Oregon and California state medical board action with our leadership team, and we decided against contracting with you at this time. I know that’s disappointing news, but I really enjoyed meeting you and sincerely wish you the best in finding meaningful work across Alaska and beyond!

This locum company mostly places NPs and PAs. Naturally, the risk of malpractice for a locums group and the state is lower if the standard of care is kept low. That’s been the nature of rural medicine in the US for decades.

When you hit a roadblock like this, remember that this isn’t a reflection on you as a physician. Now, if you think you have flaws to work on from a professionalism perspective, do it. It’s gratifying to see yourself improve.

But there are tons of locum agencies in Alaska. If one company only looks at how you look on paper and couldn’t care less about your clinical skills, maybe that’s not the right company for you.

Getting a Job in Alaska

My first instinct is to say fuck Alaska, why would I want to work there. But, I’ve learned about myself that once my butthurtedness passes and I can think clearly, I tap into the real reason I am doing something.

My partner and I are excited to visit Alaska and stay there for a few months. I’ve always been able to find a desirable position once I’m on the ground and can go door-to-door interviewing.

This is the main takeaway of this article; don’t rely on locum agencies when it comes to work. Knock on clinic and hospital doors and ask to speak to someone with decision power and carve out the kind of job you want.

I’m still heading to Alaska. I can do telemedicine from there, see my own patients in my own practice, or earn money from my consulting opportunities.

Opportunities Come Knocking

When one door is shut in your, it’s often one less thing you have to worry about. This can feel shitty at first, but then you see all the other opportunities around you.

As with all these seemingly negative events, the same week I got this message I was contacted by 2 different CEOs on LinkedIn asking me if I’m interested working with them.

One has a solid text-based telehealth practice for which he needs a clinical operations person to grow it and improve it. He found my content on LI and thought I’d be the right fit. We had a great interview, and he’s interested in offering me a consulting position.

The second is a serial healthcare startup entrepreneur who is building high-end access clinics in a niche sector to allow customers in that industry to have unlimited access to a physician on-site. He asked if I’d join to help them build it out from the clinical side.

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