Ilze Berzins

I mean this kindly.

Never again will I be able to go to a mall wearing a ratty old baseball cap with my ratty bleached-out ponytail sticking out. Never again will a cashier in a shop call me “you guys” or tell me to have a good one.
There is no such laissez-faire ease in Europe. No freedom to look like a scrag. No freedom to not wash your hair for a week and wear those same gym pants and sweat shirt over and over and still feel OK about yourself.

I don’t really want to leave my comfy old Scragsville but there is no other way. If I want to stay married, that is.

On April 1, 2008 I wrote a letter to the Editor of The Ottawa Citizen. It was published under the headline:

“We need to license foreign-trained MDs, not bring in more of them.”

Did anyone listen? Hell no. I’ll bet my sweet bippy doctors are still out there driving cabs, living in shabby apartments, fighting with their better halves.

Thankfully my better half didn’t drive a cab. He had me.

Here’s a quick review of my past two weeks:

Tuesday Feb 9

For hours my husband has been hanging over his keyboard, staring at his computer screen. This is the day that he will be notified if the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine will give him a license.  God knows he deserves it. He’s spent a fortune paying for countless exams and he’s passed them all. (Well, some on a second try.)

He’s now at the same stage as any Canadian medical school graduate who has passed all his Boards.

Normally the Medical Council of Canada would put him to work as soon as possible. (After all, isn’t there a doctor shortage?)

 But no.

He can practice in Canada only after two years of practice in the U.S.

Will he be punished for taking a sabbatical?

Or will he be given the dubious privilege of working in a poor rural community where almost no one has insurance and where doctors fight each other for paying patients?

It’s still Tuesday. Five pm has come and gone.

Maybe it’s an evening meeting, he mutters to himself.

Maybe it’s postponed.

Maybe, maybe, maybe………………

Wednesday Feb 10.

I’m up bright and early. I was awakened from my med-induced sleep by an anxiety attack.

George is already upstairs again. Staring, staring, staring. Has he been up in our computer room all night?

“Phone the motherfuckers,” I say as I stagger upstairs with coffee spilling from my mug due to hand shaking like crazy.

George pulls back. “You turkey! I can’t go bugging these guys.”

I see fear, submission.

“Fine. Wait!” I say and storm away.

In the afternoon he finally caves. He phones.

“Sure, Sonny. Just one more $1,200 exam and we’ll take another look at your credentials.”

(Read: Kick-backs from Licensing Boards to Examining Boards.)

I wonder how many desperate people there are who would follow this mirage to its ultimate end.

But not us.

Stay tuned…



  1. George writes:

    There are only so many exams one can take. At some point it becomes a practice in futility once you prove you have the knowledge, what do more exams prove except that perhaps you are good at taking exams. But the question is not if you are good at taking exams but whether you actually are good at diagnosing and treating patients. I’ve known quite a few intellectually brilliant doctors who have trouble diagnosing or relating to another live human, or are just clutzes in the operating room. I also know a quite brilliant doctor here in Ottawa who uses his brilliance playing on-line poker while his patients are tended to by his foreign unlicensed assistant. Rather than spend my precious time on this earth getting ever better in taking exams why not live life where we want? Where we can be surrounded by a familiar ages old culture and where cultural centers are only a few hours train ride away.

  2. ilzeberzins writes:

    My dear George!
    “Where WE want!”
    I know you are dying to get outta here. But you are a cultured urbane gent, easily accepted in olde Europe, whereas I have become accustomed to SCRAGSVILLE. To Billings Bridge, to Farm Boy, to the Pelican…
    I’m not even sure I’m into age-old culture any more. Physical culture is another thing. I get plenty of that from the RA Centre and tennis at Windsor Park.
    What is to become of us?

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