Doctors, Skills and Moving Back
I could never understand when Jamaican doctors living in the U.S. complained to me that they could never return to Jamaica, because they are unable to practice medicine in an environment that was so (for
want of a better word) primitive.
After a discussion with a Caribbean surgeon on a long flight, I began to understand why they would say so.
Essentially, their training, as received by them in the U.S. has prepared them to practice their profession under very narrow conditions, with the aid of the kind of technology that very few countries can afford.
It's a little like being able to speak only a single language.
It's not a problem as long as one chooses to remain in the U.S., but it is definitely a problem when one chooses to come to live andwork in Jamaica, or with the vast majority of human beings in the world.
And herein lies the lesson for the returnee and expat -- to develop their craft in a such a way that they can operate effectively in a variety of environments.
In my business, for example, I have the opportunity to drive in countries across the hemisphere, on both left and right sides of the road.
Early on in my short-lived career as a travelling salesperson, I learned how to juggle a map, cell phone, lunch, list of client destinations and a steering wheel at the same time. (Don't try this at home...)
The skill I happened to develop is one that has served me well, and I have the confidence to land in just about any country and move around on my own (although the driving I saw in Caracas still makes me nervous just to think about.) A simple skill such as switching to drive on one side of the road to another is not a challenge.
Any skill that a returnee or expat learns in a First World country needs to be conditioned, and adapted so that it can be used in any country, and especially here in Jamaica. It may involve learning the basics of the craft all over again, in a different way that may be of use here in Jamaica.
The key here is to be savvy about one's skills and abilities, and to gain an understanding of how to meet Jamaican culture at its point of present need.