An Unexpected Opportunity, What Should I Do?

questionIt seems every Friday I have another question for my wonderful readers. Just to update, over the last couple of week you’ve helped me decide what to do with a windfall (It’s in the vacation fund for now, but part will go into stocks when there is a market correction) and helped me decide that good service is the most important thing with my phone, although I’m still not sure whether I need a smart phone or not. This week, I have been presented with an unexpected opportunity, a new job offer.

As you may already know, I have transitioned from being a workaholic business owner/optometrist to a part time optometrist who works at three different places; two private offices and for an Indian Health Service clinic. I am averaging about three days a week currently.

A few weeks ago, an optometrist called me out of the blue and offered a part time position with a large referral center just across the border in New Mexico. She got my name from a colleague who works full time for Indian Health. It is a small community, and if you have the training and personality to work with that population, it opens lots of doors. A great percentage of patients in this practice come from the reservation. For the most part, this is the place after the primary care clinic can no longer meet your needs and you require specialized services.

Life is never that easy because there are a few conditions.

  • It is a 70 mile drive. This is actually not a huge deal to me if I don’t have to do it every day. One of the offices I work in currently is that far, but over a mountain pass, so this would be an easy drive in comparison.
  • I would have to get a New Mexico license. New Mexico, for whatever reason, is one of the harder states to get licensed in. Most states allow you to obtain a license after passing all three parts of a national board exam plus a treatment/management of ocular disease test. A few require a separate exam. The New Mexico exam is very difficult and consists of a practical portion and an oral exam about eye disease cases.

Now, if I were to pass or fail on my own merit, I have no problem with that, but it has long been know that if you have the right or wrong connections, it greatly influences your scores in New Mexico. Years ago, the oral part consisted of an interview. The examiners asked where you intended to practice. If it was in direct competition to a high ranking optometrist in the pecking order, you failed. It has improved over the years, and it is really a test of skills and knowledge now, but some believe the oral portion is still the way it is so that the examiners reserve the right to fail you. Often the board of a state does not want too many doctors, and this is a way to ensure the ones already there can continue to make money. It’s not right or fair, but it is what it is. Without written results to argue a score, it’s pretty much he said/she said, and if you piss off the board, you can never hope to get a license .

The test is given one time a year, and it costs $575 to take, non-refundable, plus $100 for a CPR course, and then another $200 if you pass. It is held in Santa Fe over a three day period, so I would incur travel expenses as well.  I have to decide and have the money in by June 24th. I do believe the company who is trying to hire me has a good reputation, and I would be likely to pass if I can meet the requirements, but you never know. I will also be reimbursed the fees if I pass and go to work for this company.

Now, the more important question is, do I even want this opportunity? Honestly, I don’t know. If my current positions continue as they are, probably not. However, once my business sale is final, I have no job security. I think I’m well liked and do a good job, but there are many other factors that influence employment other than doing a good job. Ironically, I interviewed and was offered a position with this company before I went into private practice. It would be like coming full circle. I have no doubt that the work would be challenging, and it’s no secret that medical optometry is my favorite part. Not that I don’t like fitting disposable contacts, but it’s not the most exciting thing in the world.

As far as hours and pay, there is tons of flexibility. Because of the difficulty of obtaining a New Mexico license, there just aren’t any doctors to hire, especially in this area, and certainly not many who want to work part time. If someone moved up from Albuquerque, they would want full time with full benefits. The position offered is currently for one or two days a week plus fill in for other doctors when needed. Realistically, I could probably negotiate a deal to work two days a week and make as much as I’m making for three now. That would also mean I would either have to go back to working 5 days a week, which I don’t want, or leaving one of my other positions. I really love everywhere I work and would hate to do that. Regardless, if I don’t take the test, I lose the opportunity for at least a year, maybe forever. Even if I get the license and don’t take the job, I would hold a pretty coveted piece of paper, which might come in handy down the road. Part of me says jump at the opportunity. Part of me says chill out.

I’d be out the fees and whatever it costs to keep the license current, but it might not be a bad deal, assuming I could pass the thing in the first place. If I never ended up using it, it would be a total waste of money and all this worry.

What should I do? Should I shell out and take the test or avoid it altogether? Am I too pessimistic about my current employment situation?

 Image: Freedigitalphotos.net/Miles

Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Snipon.com.

36 Comments

  1. I love how others are coming around to help out these days. Great. My advice is to take the test and get the license. It could open up other opportunities, but it will also show that you still know your shit (I am sure that you really do). Yes, it costs money, but it is coveted. Do it!

  2. Not the worst of conundrums to have! Congratulations on the offer. The commute seems to me to be the main issue, as I’m sure you’ll be motivated to pass the NM exam.

  3. I’d guess that even the fact you’re giving this opportunity this much thought means you’re really serious about it. I’d imagine it’s always better to be licensed in more vs. less states, esp. since you’re so close to the border anyway. My line of thinking is take the test now vs later. If you decide 5-10 years from now that you want to work in NM at least you have it and aren’t 20-25 years away from the clinical coursework.

  4. Thats a tough one. You seem to really like your current state but are a little worried about messing up or missing out. I would say at least take the tests and get those out of the way. See how things go from there.

  5. The fees seem pretty small, so I wouldn’t let them be the deciding factor. If it were me, I’d probably go for it in order to have the option, but do you really want to go back to working 5 days per week?

    1. No way if I can help it. Fees are steeper than most states, but certainly could be recovered quickly if I put it to use. If only I had a few months to think about it!

  6. Is this something you were hoping for before it was offered? If not, then why not? There might be good reasons this wasn’t something you were pursuing and those reasons probably haven’t changed just because there’s an offer on the table.

    If this is something you really want, that you think will improve your life in a meaningful way, then the fees are worth it, even if it doesn’t come to fruition. But if not, then what’s the point? We don’t need to chase every opportunity that comes our way if we’re already content with what we have.

    1. I agree. Sometimes I think I think too much and it gets me in trouble. Even if all my jobs fell through, I could likely get something else this side of the border.

  7. Take the test just to show those New Mexicans and yourself that you know your stuff.

    Take the job but only if they make it 2 days every other week and they pay you a lodging and food allowance. That way you could work 2 days in a row and make the drive less frequently.

    I haven’t taken many chances in my life. I rarely regret things I have done wrong and totally messed up in my life but I do have a lot of regrets because I have let chances pass me by because I was afraid.

    1. Thanks for the advice. Fear is not a good reason to do or not do anything.

  8. In your description of the opportunity, you never mention your overall goals or plans. Have you met your financial goals? What are your future goals and plans? Does this opportunity fit with those goals? I think that is what is important.

    1. So true. We were in debt repayment mode for so long that I do need to revisit those goals to see what the next few years need to bring. We are in the best financial position of our lives currently. I’m not sure why I can’t enjoy it more instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

  9. Wow, that’s a tough call Kim and I think you are the best person to make that decision because it all boils down to YOU and where you want to see your life head. I wish you all the luck in what you decide but I’m sure you will make an informed professional decision in the end. Cheers

    1. Professional Kim wants to work at the top of the food chain and handle the most difficult patients that I am allowed to treat by law. Mommy Kim wants to have play dates and never work out of town again. Those two sides don’t always get along.

  10. Hmmm this seems tough. If you are afraid of future job security, then maybe you should do it? However, I don’t know. This is tough!

    1. I don’t think I’m really afraid. I’m just one of those people who likes to have a plan for worst case. Even worse case, I probably don’t need to do this. It is flattering that someone wants me for a tough job, though.

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