9: Is Locums for You?

If you’ve listened to previous episodes, you know the value of thinking beyond your clinical income when it comes to upleveling your life. We’ve explored side hustles in general and taken a look at some of the possibilities that real estate offers. Today, though, we are going to take a deeper dive into the life of a locums doctor. Dr. Carrie Reynolds of The Hippocratic Hustle returns to the show to share her personal experience as a locums doctor. Plus, I share insight from my own experiences. 

Before you can really consider whether or not becoming a locums doctor is right for you, you need to know what a locums doctor is. On the surface, a locums doctor is similar to a temporary worker for a medical practice or a hospital. However, locums work is actually much more than that. In many ways, locums doctors provide a critical bridge over a gap in care that communities would otherwise face. Perhaps it’s covering maternity leave or vacation time. In other instances, a hospital might be looking to bring on a full-time staff member, but the hiring process is involved and lengthy. Locums doctors close these gaps by providing much-needed care to patients in the interim.

One of the most important things to understand about locums work is that it pays well. In fact, Carrie says that her goal with her locums work was to bring in at least the same amount of income as she did in her previous practice. Locums work not only provides a healthy income, the way you get paid is important as well. Most locums doctors receive a 1099 instead of a W2. That means that you have more flexibility with tax deductions and write offs. If the thought of being a traveling doctor conjures up images of price tags and high costs, think again. Most locums work also accounts for your transportation, housing, and even licensing expenses. 

In addition to offering financial positives, there are myriad other benefits to locums work. As a locums doctor, you have even more flexibility over your schedule. You also have the opportunity to travel widely. During your travels, you get to experience places around the country in new ways. Though I had previously visited Seattle as a tourist, my locums experience there was a fresh perspective. Locums work gives you the opportunity to really appreciate the culture and the people in the town or city. 

While there are many benefits to locums work, it isn’t for everyone. If you feel like your current stage in life would prevent you from traveling entirely or even just stop you from enjoying your travels, locums may not be the best fit. Even so, there are plenty of other opportunities to think beyond your clinical income now. Plus, you never know what the future holds. Even if locums isn’t for you right now, it could be a fantastic future opportunity. 

In this episode, we also explore:

  • What qualities and characteristics make an ideal locums doctor
  • Ways to negotiate your locums salary to earn more 
  • Specific examples of some of the tax benefits of locums work 
  • Some of the supports Carrie and her family use to make life easier while she is away
  • The benefits of working with a locums agency 
  • The importance of tracking your certifications and personal examples
  • A deeper dive into who is (and isn’t!) the right fit for locums
  • The importance of “being a guest in someone’s home” as a locums doc 

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Featured on the episode:

  • See a special roundup of Carrie’s personal journey as a locums doctor over at Hippocratic Hustle. 
  • Get a refresher on the value of thinking beyond your clinical income in Episode 4.

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