Dr RJ on locuming in rural and remote Australia

Rural Generalist locum

Dr RJ is a GP in his early 60s. After retiring from his practice, he sought a different pace, leading him to explore locum work, particularly in rural areas. His love for the outback and its people has significantly shaped his later professional life, offering him a blend of challenges and rewards.

"I have always loved the Outback and its people,"

Rural and remote areas in Australia urgently need locum doctors. Working in these underserved locations can offer immense satisfaction, knowing you’re making a substantial difference in communities with limited access to healthcare. It's an opportunity to apply your skills where they are needed most, truly impacting lives and experiencing the unique lifestyles of outback regions.

We caught up with RJ to discuss his motivations for embracing locum work and the impacts on his career and personal life. We hope this article will provide insights for other medical professionals contemplating a similar path. We chat about the realities, adjustments, and unique experiences of being a locum doctor in some of the most remote parts of Australia.

Can you tell us about your background and what led you to become a doctor?

I am a GP in my early 60s who worked full-time in hospitals for six years and then spent 30 years in a Group General Practice in a Provincial Victorian city. After I retired from my Practice, I wished to have a transition to retirement and do something different. My interests have been in Internal Medicine, Paediatrics and Palliative Care.

How did you first hear about locum work, and what motivated you to pursue it?

I looked at the jobs in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) and was originally going to relocate to Broome, but this did not work out for several reasons. I also had a friend working in emergency medicine who worked as a locum at Mt Isa.

Has locum and rural work influenced your medical career and professional growth? How?

Locum work has influenced my medical career in its twilight years, as it has been my primary work for the last 18 months. I work as a Ward Doctor, looking after inpatient Adult medicine, Psychiatric and Paediatric patients. I have had to re-learn a lot of inpatient medicine as it has changed over the years.

Do you have any memorable experiences from any of your rural locum assignments?

Yes, I have managed some fascinating conditions, worked with some lovely colleagues in nursing and medicine, and looked after some terrific and interesting patients.

What have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced while working in a rural locum, and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenges are having to re-learn hospital medicine to some degree and gain confidence in caring for sick patients. It is also not easy to be away from home, family, and friends.

What skills or qualities are essential for a successful rural locum doctor?

A willingness to learn new skills and not being afraid to ask for advice.

How has locum work (or working in rural areas) impacted your personal life and work-life balance?

There are positives and negatives to this. It is hard being away from home and my wife, but it allows me to leave the job at work, which is much easier than in general practice!

Are there any specific regions or types of locum work that you would recommend based on your experience?

My experience is essentially based in South Australia and Broome in Aboriginal Health and Queensland for short periods. Australia is a magnificent country- people and patients tend to be friendly. Still, I would strongly suggest that locums venture where they feel competent and safe because they may have to manage a diverse set of medical conditions.

Looking back, what is your biggest highlight of working as a locum doctor?

Managing complex and interesting medical conditions, accepting the challenges they bring, and meeting some lovely people, nurses, doctors, and patients.

What advice would you give other doctors considering rural locum work?

Locum work is certainly worth considering, many areas are desperately short of doctors, but do your homework first to ensure that your skill set matches the environment that you have chosen!

Locum doctors are earning up to $4000/day. How does your salary compare? Find out in our free 2024 Australian Doctor Job Market.
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Medrecruit Editorial Team
10 June 2024Article by Medrecruit Editorial TeamMedrecruit Editor