Outgoing Republican Assembly Member Linda Halderman is not only a legislative short-timer, she's also not long for Fresno, California -- or the United States.
Halderman, a medical doctor by trade, said this week that she will work as a surgeon on the island of Providenciales, which is part of the Turks and Caicos Islands about 150 miles east of Cuba.
The island has some expensive resorts including Club Med, but that's not where Halderman will ply her trade. She'll be working among the island's "real people," she said.
Her patients will be primarily blue-collar resort workers who are a mix of locals served by the country's national health insurance program and immigrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic -- and the occasional injured tourist.
Turks and Caicos has a life expectancy higher than the U.S., but its infant mortality rate is more than twice the U.S. rate. Health care on the island, Halderman said, seems on the surface similar in quality to the U.S., but she said there is no blood bank and no regular access to supplies that have run low. She will be one of two surgeons on Providenciales.
Halderman, 44, served a single term representing the 29th Assembly District, and before that was a policy aide for two years in the state Senate. But for most of her career she's been a surgeon, which included a stint in rural Fresno County.
She also has worked in underserved parts of the U.S. and volunteered for three months in the South Pacific, providing medical relief on American Samoa following a 2009 tsunami.
Halderman also is part of a worldwide network of doctors who are willing to travel to remote parts of the world that need medical assistance. Last year, an opportunity came up to work a month on Providenciales. She took it.
When Halderman found out there was an opportunity for a permanent position, "I said, 'Sign me up.' "
Former Assembly Member Juan Arambula of Fresno said, "I congratulate her on making a clean break. She'll continue to practice medicine, and it's an interesting place where she's going."
Halderman's career move is atypical for former legislators, many of whom either stay in the political world or don't stray too far from it.
Cruz Bustamante, a former lieutenant governor and Assembly member from Dinuba, is doing political consulting, as is former Assembly Member Mike Villines of Clovis. Steve Samuelian of Fresno, who served in the Assembly, owns a consulting business that does political lobbying.
Even those who don't stay directly involved in politics aren't too far removed from it.
A lawyer by trade, former state Sen. Chuck Poochigian of Fresno is a state appellate court justice. The position is not political, but it did require a gubernatorial appointment.
And former Assembly Member Sarah Reyes of Fresno is regional program manager in the Central Valley for the California Endowment.
But Halderman said she isn't cut out for a political career. "I will always be a surgeon first," she said.
On Providenciales, population 15,000, she will live in a concrete house on an unpaved road. Power, she said, will be "spotty." She won't have air conditioning.
Halderman will keep her home in Fresno and her U.S. citizenship. But the job isn't short term. "My plan," she said, "is to stay."
She said the island "has a great need for a surgeon," and it satisfies her desire for public service.
Besides her medical work, Halderman plans to write about her experiences as traveling surgeon, but also plans to touch on her time in the Legislature.
Halderman is scheduled to start work Dec. 15, but she's already packing boxes in her Fresno home and plans to leave for Providenciales on Dec. 1 -- the day after she ends her stint as a state legislator.