Dr Penzy Dinsdale on discovering the locum lifestyle

New Zealand locum doctors

The field of medicine can sometimes be associated with long hours and little time for personal pursuits. But what if there was a way to merge the passion of practising medicine with the freedom to live life on your terms?

Enter the world of locuming, an approach to medical practice that offers a myriad of benefits and a lifestyle change many doctors are now seeking. We caught up with Dr Penzy Dinsdale, who just over a year ago decided to quit her hospital job to become a full-time locum doctor.

Wānaka was the picturesque beginning of her locum journey which has spanned various locations, including Queenstown and the West Coast. For Penzy, it was about finding that balance between her medical passions and the adventures the world outside offers.

“I started as a full-time locum just over a year ago and immediately the lifestyle was kind of amazing.”

When asked what prompted this lifestyle change, she paints a candid picture of the scene she left behind.

"I was unable to ever get away to the mountains. Even on the weekends when I wasn’t working, I was still having to do things for work, or just being too tired and too much time spent catching up with regular things like, cooking food and doing laundry. And that’s just not really how I wanted to live. So I was like, I need a break from this, and locuming is a great way to have a break, but also still be involved in medicine. "

One of the most significant advantages of locuming is the ability to choose your work environment and schedule.

"Being a locum allows lots of flexibility in lifestyle to go and do the things you want to do. For me, it’s mountains but other people have other amazing hobbies as well."

"I’ve actually been really fortunate that I’ve managed to tie in a few mountain trips with locum placements that I’ve done. I think one of the best ones was I spent a few days doing some volunteer work with the Kea Conservation Trust and then went straight into a locum placement on the West Coast and that was just a fantastic balance of the things I really enjoy in life."

With the flexibility to pick and choose assignments, many locum doctors can strike a better balance between their personal and professional lives.

"You know, having that balance, then makes me in a better place to go and actually give medicine my all."

Often, locum roles offer competitive rates, especially for specialties in high demand or in areas facing a shortage of medical professionals.

"The amount of work I actually have to do to pay the bills is a lot less than what I was having to do. So pretty much I moved straight to Wānaka and have been locuming in mostly rural emergency departments. In between, I've climbed lots of mountains, spent some time volunteering with the Kea Conservation Trust, and worked as a ski field doctor over the winter....That’s been a job I’ve really wanted the entire time I’ve been working in medicine."

Locuming can provide a vast array of clinical experiences in diverse settings. This variation allows doctors to expand their clinical skills, witness different healthcare systems in action, and handle cases they might not encounter in a fixed position.

"I find working in remote areas really rewarding. You can make quite a big difference to patient care, just even in a one-off emergency visit because they might not have regular or easy access to a doctor."

"I’ve also found that in those remote communities that you get a lot of people coming to see you a bit later than they might otherwise present in an urban centre so you see some really interesting cases that you might not see in the urban centres. I really enjoy it. Generally, all the staff working there share fairly similar lifestyle ideologies with me. They’re all quite keen for adventures in and around work."

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01 November 2023Article by Julia Medrecruit Editor