Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Thanks to a WI Farmer and the Government....Freedom!
Yesterday was kind of a BIG day. I paid off the LAST of my student loans. Only because of the grace of God and the National health Service Corps, I might add. When I finished my doc program I owed the equivalent of the cost of a moderate house...and my payments and "mortgage" were about equal to buying one too! The was I figured it, if I paid $1300 a month for the next thirty years, I'd be just about done. There were only two problems with that scenario. 1) I did not HAVE an extra $1300 a month, and 2) graduating as I did, shall we say, a little later in life....thirty years was going to take me WAY past any one's idea of a graceful time to retire. I had deferred and forbore, and it was, after being out of school a bit, definitely time to pay the piper. This all came to a head on my birthday back in 2002. I was sitting in a field in Wisconsin celebrating my birthday with a friend. S has always been one not to pull punches with me, and as I was bemoaning my "fate" of a lifetime of loan payementss with no retirement ever in sight, she hit me with the one-two..."So....are you just going to sit around and complain about this thing, or are you going to actually DO something?" I knew the something she was referring to....the National Health Service offers to pay back loans of those in health and allied professions who agree to work in underserved areas for a period of time. We had talked about this as an option when I was in grad school, but I had hemmed and hawed and put off seriously thinking about it. It was a risk, I'd have to move...somewhere....my life would have to essentially (or so I thought) be put on hold for the 5-7 years required to complete my service obligation. And where would I end up? (Visions of underserved areas to me didn't include my own state at that time.) But I heeded S's words and when I got home again, I looked up the NHSC. I checked the locations for places to serve and found there were a number of them within a three hour drive of home, and some even had been given a rating that led me to believe that I would have no trouble being accepted for the program should I be applying from one of them. Hmmmm....This might work!.The next step would be a job search. I thought that would take time. Imagine my surprise when I opened the Sunday paper right there in my own kitchen, and there was one of my sites....in my own state, looking for a psychologist! So off went the resume, and very soon I was toodling across the state to an interview, then accepting a job and packing to set off on the beginning of what turned out to be far more of a life-changing adventure than I had ever bargained for. In addition to the obvious benefits of NO MORE STUDENT LOANS....I have gained fabulous friends, ordination, which of course has led to more wonderful adventures all on its own, and best of all my amazing husband! Not bad for eight years. So I'm toasting the National Health Service Corps. A great deal all around. People in underserved areas get good clinicians to come and work with them....and those clinicians....doctors, dentists, nurses, too....get relief from a huge debt burden! This is something the government has gotten very, very right. Thanks and blessings NHSC.