Monday, November 12, 2007

Leave of Absence and Its (Dis)Contents

Being on a leave of absence presents a series of challenges, most of which I would deem "problems of luxury", yet their problematic quality is still worthy of my attention. And it is these challenges which occupy my mind most vividly from day to day.

First and foremost, during this time of rejuvenation and mental/emotional recovery, I am faced with the question of whether or not to return to my full-time job. Being on a medical leave of absence, I am required by law to return to work for at least 30 calendar days following my leave, yet the future beyond those thirty days is wholly uncertain, professionally speaking. My job---and all of its vicissitudes and benefits---is doubtless waiting for me to return in just under a month, and my desire to embrace that 40-hour challenge once again is waning daily.

So, the questions remain. What would it mean to leave my workplace, my work family, the comfort of the familiar? How would it impact my career, my personal life, my clinical development, my future as a nurse? How much should I worry about my patients and how my leave-taking will effect them? How much of my patients' experience is my responsibility? Haven't I given them enough for seven long years?

If I do indeed decide to leave my position, it begs the question of how I will move forward, earn a living, and piece together a sane, healthy work life, unencumbered by the burnout with which I have lived for far too long. Luckily, Mary is poised to have benefits early in 2008, ostensibly freeing me from the oh-so-American shackles of sticking with a job solely for the health insurance.

This opening which I have created for myself is truly an opening---a portal of opportunity---through which I can walk, run, saunter, stumble, or fall. The mode of entry through said portal still remains to be seen, but the desired outcome is, in the final analysis, sanity.
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