Posted by: pckatie | January 7, 2011

Medical Clearance!!

 This will be at least my third or fourth reference to the following piece of advice that was given to me by a current volunteer in El Salvador but I don’t think I have ever received any advice that I continually found to be so true!  She told me “Expect for things to take a really really long time, and then if they don’t you will be pleasantly surprised!”  Well, once again, this has been the case for me as I work my way through the application process! 

I got an update saying my medical was complete on January 3rd and that a letter would come in the mail.  Of course when my Dad walked in the door that night I assaulted him to see if any mail had come for me (even though I am smart enough to realize that something sent from Washington D.C. in the morning would not arrive in my mailbox the same afternoon…but I’m always quick to point out that I am an eternal optimist/hopeful/dreamer).  My parents brought me back down to reality and reminded me how incredibly fast this portion of the application process had gone already and guessed that the letter would probably arrive by Friday.  I reminded myself of my mantra (que sera, sera) and that oh-so-true piece of advice and put the thought of the letter in the back of my mind (ok.. so it was still at the front of my mind, but I stopped talking about it!). 

The next day when my Dad walked in from work we had assault for the mail round two and when I asked if he got the mail his response was, “Yeah just some bills, a bank statement, a birthday card, oh…and something from the Peace Corps.”  I tore open the envelope like there was a million dollars in it even though I was 99.9% sure what it was going to say.  To my immense pleasure the letter started out,

“Dear Ms. McCarthy,

The Office of Medical Services is pleased to inform you that you have been medically qualified for services and the Office of Placement has been notified.  You will now move to the next step of the process, The Office of Placement.”

While this was just one small part of the application process I feel like I have jumped a huge hurdle.  I have heard so many stories from applicants and volunteers who were stuck in the medical clearance stage for months and months.  I feel so luck that I got through this part so quickly and I am so excited to move to the next step of the process!

I am a little unclear on what exactly will happen next, it seems like it varies a little for each applicant.  Some people receive an invitation shortly after they receive clearance and others receive requests for more/updated information.  Not much has changed for me since I applied (I am still in school and have the same job).  I am exicted that my clearance came through so quickly because it means the program I was nominated for is still open (in fact there is a good chance no one has been invited to it yet..Peace Corps Wiki isn’t showing any staging dates for Latin America in June yet…but some June invites have gone out!)  I am prepared for whatever comes my way and I know that it could be a long time before I receive an invitation (for my mid June nomination the latest I could receive an invitation would be around the end of April or beginning of May).   I’m not going to lie though, it would be fantastic to get an invitation sometime soon and have plenty of time to pack, start practicing the langauge, learn about the country, and read blogs of current volunteers obsessively (and by that I mean read blogs of current volunteers obsessively instead of my current practice of reading ANY Peace Corps related blog obsessively!). 

On a semi-unrelated note (I am aware this post is slowly transforming from a blog post to a novel) I begin my student teaching in just over a week.  I got all of the information yesterday and I have orientation on Monday.  I am definitely a little anxious because they make it seem like it’s going to be a very stressful semester.  They say you should not have a job, but I can’t afford to not have at least my part-time job so hopefully that works out ok!  The anxiety is balanced out by my excitement to get back in the classroom especially since I am back in kindergarten this semester.  It has been a pretty stressful year and a half  in the program already so I think I can handle one more semester!  I can’t believe it has been four years since I started at ASU, it makes me realize how fast something like 2 years in the Peace Corps could go by! 

Thats all for now.  I am going skiing in a few days and then enjoying my last few days of freedom (all the while anxiously awaiting any word from Peace Corps!)  I might not have much news anytime soon, but I will update if I hear anything.  To all those still with me, thanks for reading 🙂  Until next time, paz y amor.

P.S. If anyone knows of a good way to share pictures during service I would love to hear some suggestions.  I don’t really want to use Facebook because not everyone I know has an account.  I want something I can link to my blog and be easily accessible to everyone without them needing to create an account or anything!  Also it would be helpful if pictures upload easily to the site (since I might have pretty unreliable/slow internet connection).  Comment on this post or send me an email at k a t h e r i n e . c . m c c a r t h y @ a s u . e d u (no spaces, I just don’t want spam!)  Thanks!



  1. Pictures can be handled in a wide variety of ways, as you have probably noticed if you are scouring the PCJs like so many of us applicants.
    I have noticed that few PCJs utilize Picasa (by Google), but I plan to do so for several reasons; First, Picasa is readily available for free from Google and is an “all in one” program. Uploading your images to Picasa enables you to maintain all images in chronological files along with your own individual file names. I have been using Picasa for all image editing and storage (I also back up all images with an external hard drive as well as with DVDs). The images can be edited in a large variety of ways including very slight straightening without having to go through the laborious PhotoShop handling. All editing is done utilizing icons, thereby obviating having to learn a lot of photo editing processes. You can even create montages and ‘click & drag’ the images around to arrange a montage to your satisfaction. You can add text directly to the images. You can email photos directly from Picasa. The selling point, in relation to PCJs for me is that Picasa allows you to create Internet based Web albums. You can then put a link in your blog posting or simply direct readers to those Web albums for photo stories, if you wish. There are many other advantages to Picasa. Take a look at it by simply searching Google for Picasa.

  2. I was scanning PCVJ and came across your blog. I love reading/obsessing over PCVJ blogs while I wait for my invitation. Especially when I read something like you just wrote, which is exactly how I am feeling at the moment! I am also nominated for CSA leaving in June 2011, but for health extension! I was cleared before the new year and am as anxious as you. I will def be following your blog for updates. I hope we both get to know soon, so we don’t drive ourselves crazy until April/May. I was emailed a few days after the clearance for an updated resume, sent it in right away and then was told I would hear from the PO again in a month. SO, I count down the days until the end of Janurary….I started a blog as well but I only wrote one entry so far =)

  3. Lew: Thanks for the great info…I checked it out and it looks like it might work great for me and I hadn’t hear of it before! I appreciate your help!

    Marissa: I love hearing from applicants that are at the same stage of the process as me..its encouraging to know you heard from someone a few days after clearance about what will happen next because I have been sitting here wondering if I should be doing something! Good luck and I will be follwing your blog!

  4. I love hearing from applicants that are at the same stage of the process as me..its encouraging to know you heard from someone a few days after clearance about what will happen next because I have been sitting here wondering if I should be doing something! Good luck and I will be follwing your blog!

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