Telling patients he works for them

In his recent Physician Weekly article, A full-time locums career, EM physician Dr. Ripal Patel explains how an encounter with a locums physician years ago changed his life. The physician was, according to Patel, “energetic, enthusiastic, and incredibly refreshed.” By contrast, Patel was constantly exhausted, working “weekends, never getting the holidays I wanted, schedule flipping, harsh night-to-day conversions and vice-versa.”

The locums physician made his own schedule, chose where he worked, didn’t have to deal with schedule flipping, and was paid by the hour for all of the time he worked, including overtime.

Patel decided to transform his life. He left his full-time position, took a locums assignment in a Texas border town, and loved it. There he met staff and patients who changed the way he practiced medicine, “All,” he says, “because I left my comfort zone.”

Dr. Rip Patel

He undertook making locum tenens his career. He became credentialed at multiple locations and expanded where he was willing to work, first throughout Texas, then, with the help of an experienced locums agency, into New Mexico and four other states.

With his newfound freedom, he ironically finds himself committing to more work than if he were a permanent employee. “But the pure joy of this model,” he says, “is being your own boss, taking vacations when you please, deciding how much you wish to earn each year, and realizing if things change at the hospital, you can simply and quietly exit.” He’s now strategic about the clients he chooses to work for. “I make sure I understand the location and needs of the facility before I agree to work.”

Best of all is “the ability to tell my patients that I work for no one except for them.”

You can read Dr. Patel’s full article here.

Dr. Ripal “Rip” Patel is the founder and lead for Mercision Emergency Medicine. He is Assistant Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX and a contributor to

Get the latest locums news delivered to your inbox.