Whether you’re looking for full-time employment or just want to make a little extra money on the side, locum tenens can be a great option for just about any physician. However, many doctors never consider locums, because they don’t want to travel long distances or stay far from home. But the reality is that there are many locum tenens assignments right in your home state or even within a short driving distance. We asked four physicians to share their experiences of how they made working locum tenens close to home a rewarding part of their career.
1. Filling in wherever there’s a need
Dr. Stephanie Bui is a vascular surgeon who has been practicing medicine since 2016. She was introduced to locums during the pandemic when facilities weren’t hiring for many permanent positions. “Initially I was looking for a permanent position, but with COVID and the uncertainty, it was very challenging for a lot of places to offer interviews,” Dr. Bui shares.
So instead, she turned to locums and has enjoyed the opportunity it’s given her to make a difference to patients in need. “I felt energized by the possibility of just working right away, of being in the OR, of filling in a spot that was needed especially at that facility,” she says.
Although Dr. Bui has worked locums assignments throughout the Midwest, she’s enjoyed having some assignments closer to home. “The proximity to home is definitely helpful, because it allows me some flexibility to look in on my parents and their health issues,” she shares.
2. Supplementing your income with locums on the side
Dr. Blaine Cashmore has been a general surgeon for more than 20 years. Although he works a permanent job in Tooele, Utah, he has worked locum tenens on the occasional weekend to make a little extra money and spend time with his family.
“I’ve been able to do weekends here and there,” he says. “I’ve pretty much stayed in Utah the whole time. It gave me the opportunity to take a mini weekend vacation especially when the kids were younger. We’d go there and go hiking and experience the community for four or five days.”
In addition to enjoying family adventures, locums also gave Dr. Cashmore a new perspective on how different facilities practice medicine. “I think it’s enjoyable to see how things are done at other places, to meet new people, and kind of see whether the grass is greener on the other side without having to extend yourself to something like actually looking for another job,” Dr. Cashmore shares.
3. Giving back to the community
Dr. Michael Cormican is a trauma surgeon and a surgical critical care intensivist. He first started working locums as a way to give back during the pandemic. “Having the training and the ability to help people when there’s bad stuff going on seemed like the right thing to do,” he says.
Now, when he’s not working at his full-time job at the community hospital, he’s working locum tenens close to home.
“I’ve got my regular job that keeps me really busy, and then I do as many locums shifts as I can,” he shares. “Where I live, it’s sort of centrally located to the hospitals that I go to, so it works out really well. One of them is literally about two miles away, the other one is about five miles away, and the third one is probably 10 to 15 miles away. So, it’s been really easy to fit it in, and they’ve been pretty accommodating fitting it in around my regular job too.”
Dr. Cormican says working locum tenens has also helped him become a better surgeon. “I enjoy dropping into other places and seeing how things run,” he says. “I enjoy seeing a different side of things and seeing different hospitals and getting to know different people. And then seeing how other places do things, and then try to impart my ways to different places. I’ve been lucky enough to be trained in some really, really good places, and so I can sort of give some of that to other people. It’s something that’s fun for me.”
4. Balancing work and home life
Family medicine physician Dr. Neha Janakiraman has been practicing as a hospitalist for seven years. Like many women doctors, Dr. Janakiraman juggles being a physician and a mom — and working locums helps her do that successfully.
“I think people have a lot of myths around being a locum physician, like you’re going to be living a nomadic lifestyle. They think you’re going from one hotel to another and living out of a suitcase, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way,” she says. “I have the autonomy over my schedule. I’m not bound to a seven on, seven off schedule. I can do 10 or 14 in a row, and I can take the rest of the time off and spend time with my little one.”
Having autonomy over her schedule allows Dr. Janakiraman to stay close to home and spend time with her child. “I love being a mom. It’s the most rewarding and awesome thing we get to do,” she says. “We were able to see Disneyland, Disney World, and Legoland in the last year, so we kind of accomplished a lot in our free time.”
Locum tenens can be a good fit for physicians who prefer to stay close to home. No matter what you’re looking for in your career, consider looking at opportunities to work locum tenens assignments in your area. It might just be exactly what you’re looking for.