One physician's experience of providing medical care in Antarctica and on a South Pacific Island
Monday, March 28, 2011
Landed in Williston
Well, as you know, I've been off the blog for a while. On my way back to the US from Kwaj, I stopped off in Hawaii then on to Lynchburg. Spent about six weeks with my family, during which time I took two weeks off to travel to Shanghai and Singapore. I also did some job hunting in Virginia and Washington state. On the 28th of December I departed Lynchburg for Williston, North Dakota, site of my new career.
Williston is in far northwest North Dakota. It is the epicenter of an oil-industry boom. There are about 170 active drilling rigs and thousands of producing wells. Seems that the industry developed a cost-effective way to extract oil from shale. Williston lies in a region known as the Bakken Formation. This is a very oil-rich shale formation. There will be oil production here for years to come. The result is a population and economic boom. Here are some internet photos of Williston.
Along with the boom comes challenges: new schools, roads, houses, hotel rooms, apartments, workers, and restaurants are all in short supply. People are moving here every week for work as we are one of the few places in the country that enjoy a thriving economy.
For a small town (population about 17,000 officially; actually probably much more) we have quite a few amenities. There is an actual drive-in movie theater in addition to the 8 screen cinema. There is a bowling alley, race track, municipal golf course and country club course, an airport with daily service to Denver, and many indoor/outdoor recreational facilities. Hunting and fishing are popular here too.
The practice I joined, Great Plains Women's Health Center, is an independent private practice group of outstanding providers working out of a state-of-the-art facility. The practice is paperless, enjoying the benefits of a well-integrated electronic medical record system. The practice has full-time ultrasound and two suites for in-office procedures. The hospital, Mercy Medical Center, is located across the parking lot.
Housing is in short supply in Williston and throughout the region. I was fortunate to secure a lovely two bedroom apartment a short distance from the hospital. I've been using my weekends to explore the region and all it has to offer. Recent trips have taken me to: Minot, Watford City, Regina (Saskatchewan), Fairview (MT), Sydney (MT), and cultural sites Fort Union Trading Post and the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center. In April I will go to Billings, MT to see Elton John in concert at MetraPark. I will also visit Grand Forks in April.
Meeting new people and making friends is one of the first things I like to do in a new place. To that end, I have joined the Rotary Club and have volunteered to serve dinner on Sunday evenings at a local church. They put on a dinner every Sunday hosted by a different church or organization every week. It is not religious or evangelical, just a good meal for whomever wants to come and partake. It is great fun to work with the guys in the kitchen.
I completed a six month sabbatical to Antarctica that started in September 2008 and concluded in February 2009. During that time I was a physician serving at McMurdo Station, part of the United States Antarctica Program. I was fortunate to spend eleven days at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station during this tour of duty.
Following Antarctica I embarked on an entirely different experience. In June 2009 I moved to Kwajalein in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It is located in the western Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Papua New Guinea. There I served as the Chief Medical Officer at the US Army Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site. That contract completed November 6, 2010.
It is now time for me to return to my ob/gyn roots and settle down again. Numerous practice opportunities are available and I am carefully assessing them.