The Freedom of a Locums Doctor

Today I have a guest post for you from my friend Dr. Cory S. Fawcett, the author of The Doctors Guide book series. His blog can be found at DrCorySFawcett.com. At the end of the article, there is a special treat for anyone interested in Locum Tenens. Be sure you check it out.

Many physicians are bemoaning the lack of control in medicine. It seems every year we lose a little more freedom, have a little less autonomy, and experience fewer choices. Locum Tenens can be a great way to counteract those losses. A great deal of freedom can be reclaimed by working in Locums.

Time Freedom

Since Locums does not tie you down to a particular location, practice or hospital, you can have newfound freedom in medicine. You can choose when to work and for how long. Conversely, you are choosing when to vacation and for how long. This is my favorite aspect of Locums work. 

Every assignment varies in length. A small assignment might be to cover a weekend that is left open in a call schedule. A short assignment is covering for a doctor who is on vacation and will be out of town for a week or two. Longer assignments may involve covering for a physician on maternity leave or medical leave while recovering from surgery, which could span six to twelve weeks. Temporary full time is also possible from locations searching for a new doctor who have an ongoing need until the position is filled.

With such variability, there is a great opportunity for a very flexible work schedule. If there are certain times of the week, month or year you want to be off, just don’t accept an assignment during that time period. You can take a break from your Locums work in July and August and play with your kids during their summer break from school. Or always take off December to do your Christmas decorating, partying, and shopping, then you will be free when your kids are off for Christmas break. The sky is the limit in choosing when to work and when not to work. Your only constrains may be your budgetary needs.

Location Freedom

If you are single, or your spouse isn’t tied down to a location-specific job, or your kids are homeschooled or away at college or grown, then Locums can give you and your family the ability to travel to locations you choose. 

Imagine getting paid to take your family on journeys all across the country, or maybe even to other countries. When you take an assignment, they provide you with housing while you are working. There is no reason your family cannot stay in that housing as well.

When I was a Locums Doctor, my kids were off at college and my wife was not working. We wanted to travel to each location together and explore the towns along the way. The accommodations that were provided always had room for her. If that was not the case, then I didn’t take the assignment. 

I made it clear to the recruiters that my wife going with me on every assignment was a requirement. That didn’t deter them from calling me with a great job opportunity in the South Pacific on a beautiful island. After my mouth was drooling at the opportunity for a paid tropical vacation, they let me know that the housing would not support spouses. I did not take that assignment.

If you want to take your entire family, then choosing locations that they will love, and that are close enough to drive to, is a big bonus. Driving gives you the ability to take a lot more stuff for the kids and avoids the purchase of multiple airline tickets that are not covered by your employer.

Driving was a requirement for me. I only took assignments within a twelve hour driving radius. I wanted to take my bike, other exercise equipment, special cooking items like our Foreman Grill, and musical instruments. My wife and I did what we could to make the temporary location feel like home. 

Freedom from difficult patients

With temporary jobs come temporary patients. As a surgeon, I sometimes picked up patients with very difficult chronic problems. Chronic pain, draining wounds, non-healing ulcers, and recurrent esophageal strictures were some of my difficult patients. These patients generated more phone calls from the nurses, and office visits were often unsatisfying because I could not solve the problem. I became a surgeon to fix patient problems and unfixable things frustrated me.

When I worked in my private practice, those difficult patients were latched onto me for life. Since all my Locums assignments came to an end in a very short time, any of these patients I picked up while on an assignment would be passed off to the next doctor when my assignment ended. With every assignment, I started and ended with a clean sleight.

The freedom of a locums doctor pinterest image

Freedom to live where we want

Another great feature of Locums is the ability to have a home base wherever we want. We are no longer tied to living where we are employed. If a doctor wants to live near their family in Springfield, Missouri, but there is not a job there, that is no longer a barrier. 

You can go ahead and have your home base in Springfield and do Locums work when and where you are needed. Later, if a job opening pops up in Springfield, you can take it without the need to move. 

I ran into one doctor who wanted to live in Portugal but did not want to practice medicine overseas. So, his Locums job was a recurring job in the states, ten consecutive days a month. He would fly in, work his ten days and fly back to Portugal to his home. Locums Doctors can live anywhere they want.

Freedom to work part-time

Locum doctors have the freedom to choose when and how much they want to work. If working halftime is preferred, then take assignments only half of the time. Working Locums gives the ability to create a schedule of your own choosing. It could be two weeks on and two weeks off, or one month on and one month off. Or, if you wanted, you could take full-time work for a while until the position is filled with a permanent physician.

Job flexibility freedom

Every specialty has different procedures and problems they encounter. Locums Doctors have the ability to choose which kinds of patients they want to see. As a surgeon working in small hospitals, endoscopy was a variable for me. Some hospitals require the Locums Doctor to do endoscopy, while others did not. If I didn’t want to do scopes, I just took assignments that did not have scopes as a requirement. If I wanted to do scopes, I needed to look for assignments that met my needs. The choice was mine and I tailored the Locums assignments I took based on my preferences.

Freedom to leave

When doing Locums, all the assignments are temporary. If you get started on an assignment and aren’t enjoying your job or the town, you can give notice and quit with no hard feelings. There is no reason for you to stay at a job you don’t like or with people you don’t want to work with. There is always another Locums assignment out there. Look at the notice requirements in your contract and give proper notice that you are not going to continue on after a specific date. Then find an assignment that better fits your needs.  The ability to change jobs easily is a big benefit that Locum Doctors have over doctors working in a permanent position.

Conclusion

Now you see the incredible freedom one has in doing Locums work. No full-time job can come close to these advantages. Full-time jobs do have other advantages that Locums don’t have, but that’s another story.

If you are considering becoming a Locums Doctor or are interested in a detailed presentation to see if becoming a Locums Doctor is right for you, then sign up for my online video course, The Doctors Guide to Thriving in Locum Tenens.

If you think Locums is something you want to try, or you need some help in making your Locums life better, don’t miss this opportunity to Thrive in Locum Tenens.

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