How working as a locum doctor can improve your relationships

Locum doctors

Locum tenens, a Latin term meaning "place holder," is a common practice in the medical world where doctors work temporary assignments at different hospitals or clinics. This article explores the beneficial aspects of working as a locum doctor and how it can enrich relationships with your partners, family, and colleagues.

Time back for relationships

The flexibility inherent to locum tenens positions allows for a better work-life balance, which is a critical component of healthy relationships. Locum doctors have the advantage of choosing when and where they want to work, which means they can control their schedules more effectively. This control can provide more quality time for family, friends, and personal interests, reducing the risk of burnout and improving overall life satisfaction.

By choosing when, where, and how often they want to work, locum doctors can create a work schedule that aligns with their personal life, fostering a healthier work-life balance. This means more quality time can be dedicated to nurturing and maintaining a strong bond with your partner.

Taking relationships on the road

Working as a locum doctor with your spouse can offer several unique advantages, especially when both of you are in the medical profession.

Shared professional experiences can strengthen your bond. As both of you navigate diverse medical scenarios, you get the opportunity to share insights, discuss challenging cases, and learn together. This can enhance not only your professional growth but also your mutual understanding and connection.

“One of the reasons we both did medicine was because it is so transferable, and it allows us to travel," said Dr Phil Gale of locuming as a couple.

The flexibility of locum work allows for synchronised schedules. Traditional medical roles often involve long, mismatched hours, making it hard for couples to find quality time together. Locum positions offer the chance to align your schedules better, thereby increasing shared leisure time.

"They have also been really good at talking with the employer and negotiating what shifts we have and they have been able to put our shifts together so that’s been very good for us." Said Dr Chok Chan of Medrecruit.

Traveling together to new assignments can be an enriching experience. Exploring new places and cultures together can create lasting memories and contribute to a stronger relationship.

“It’s allowed us to meet a lot of different people at a lot of different hospitals who’ve given us a lot of different opportunities. Almost every hospital has said: come back and join our training programme and we’ll have you straight away." Explained Dr Maddison Waters of locuming with her fiancée.

Taking your family on the road

Working as a locum doctor comes with the opportunity to travel, a benefit that can be extended to your family as well. Bringing your family along on your locum assignments has several advantages that can enrich both your personal and family life.

Firstly, it provides your family with a unique, immersive experience of different cultures and communities. This exposure can be an enriching educational opportunity for your children, fostering open-mindedness and adaptability.

Traveling together as a family encourages bonding. Shared experiences, whether exploring a new city or navigating a different culture, create lasting memories and strengthen familial bonds. This shared time is particularly precious in the busy world of medicine.

"My goals for 2023 are to find work/life balance through regular work, and locum work where I can bring my family with me and we have what we call a "working holiday." A "working holiday" is when my family comes along, and I do a bit of locum work, and then we get some nice time off together," said Dr Alf Phillips.

Traveling can also instill a sense of adventure and flexibility in your family. They learn to adapt to new environments and situations, fostering resilience and flexibility. These are life skills that can serve them well in the future.

When your family travels with you, they gain a better understanding of your work, leading to increased empathy and support for your role as a locum doctor.

Build a network within your peers

Locum work provides doctors with a unique opportunity to build an extensive professional network. Unlike permanent positions confined to one hospital or clinic, locum assignments take you to different medical facilities, exposing you to various medical teams, procedures, and systems. This continual change of environment allows locum doctors to meet and work with a diverse range of professionals, from junior doctors to experienced specialists, and even administrative staff.

This networking can be highly beneficial for career development. By connecting with medical professionals from different disciplines and backgrounds, you gain access to a wealth of knowledge and experience. These contacts can provide valuable insights, career advice, and may even lead to job opportunities in the future.

In her book, The Travelling Locum Dr Mikayla Couch says one of her standout locum experiences was at Lismore Base, where she worked as an O&G registrar. She fondly remembers the team she worked with, emphasising the impact of positive work environments in locum assignments.

"They were very accepting and very kind and fun to work with."

The relationships built while working locum assignments often extend beyond the professional realm. Many locum doctors find lifelong friends among the colleagues they meet on different assignments.

Enhanced communication skills

Working in various environments with different medical teams, patients, and systems requires excellent communication skills. Locum doctors quickly learn to adapt their communication style to suit various situations and audiences. These enhanced skills not only improve their professional interactions but also positively influence their personal relationships. Clear, effective communication is essential for understanding and resolving conflicts in any relationship.

Fostering empathy and understanding

Being exposed to a wide range of patients from various backgrounds promotes empathy and understanding, essential traits in any relationship. As locum doctors experience different facets of life through their patients, they often become more compassionate and understanding. This increased empathy can translate into a more caring and considerate relationship with your partner, contributing to stronger emotional connections.

Personal development and confidence

Navigating through different hospitals, patients, and medical conditions can be a challenge, but it's also a powerful platform for personal development. As locum doctors overcome these challenges, they develop greater confidence in their abilities. This newfound confidence can positively affect personal relationships, as confidence can lead to higher self-esteem and more satisfying interactions with others.

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Jordy Black
04 September 2023Article by Jordy BlackMedrecruit Editor