Pursuing the full-time locuming dream: Dr Kiren Kodali’s story
Locuming offers great money, fantastic flexibility and the opportunity to travel. But can you locum full-time? The answer is yes – and you’d be surprised how many doctors choose to do it.
We talked to Dr Kiren Kodali, an Australia-based registrar in general medicine and intensive care. He gave up his full-time job to pursue his dream of setting up his own special kind of practice and retreat.
The stepping stone to get there? Locuming full-time with Medrecruit.
We had a chat to Dr Kiren to find out more about his experiences as a full-time locum doctor.
What attracted you to locuming?
There’s two kinds of people. Some people like a routine, their nine-to-five and their regular dinner dates on a Wednesday night. Others like seeing new places and meeting new people as well as spending more time with family. I realised I was the latter.
I enjoy exploring small towns and visiting smaller, lesser-known places. But because I work long locum stints, I have whole weeks off which means I can spend more time with my family too. But you do need a partner who supports you and understands the lifestyle you’ve chosen. I’ve seen it happen to other doctors before – you can get disillusioned if you don’t have strong support at home and you’ll burn out fast.
What are the ups and downs of locuming?
There are a lot of pros if you carefully negate the negatives. It’s good if you have a purpose, like trying to save for a house for your partner and children. You also have more responsibilities and you pick up a lot of new things. The cons are that you really need to look after your health. After a long flight, it’s easy to pick up MacDonald’s or on shorter locum placements, you find yourself living out of a motel ordering in chips. But that’s really not good for you in the long run.
You also need to look after your mental health. You’re away from your family and friends and you need to build new relationships with new colleagues fast. I think you need to have a purpose or goal.
What has surprised you about the nature of locum work?
I love small towns. You go to some and at first think, why am I going here?! Launceston, Tasmania is an example, I had a six month locum there and found that though small, it had a lot of things going on. There was yoga, archery, great cafes. You get your hits and misses of course, but the experience is different for different people. Maybe if you love steak, you’d like a small town with farming and a big meat factory! Then there’s small towns like Geraldton, which is great for surfers.
I love the beach. I love a bit of yoga, a little bit of archery and I like small towns with small airports as I enjoy flying planes. I think each town in Australia has something special about it.
What tips would you give a doctor starting locum work?
Before you locum, think about what your passions are. We all have something we’re passionate about but we often easily give up our dreams.
I was a nine-to-five hospital doctor and I began to realise that you shouldn’t compromise your dreams. I’d say that’s the biggest thing I’ve realised this year. I decided to locum for three years for a purpose – to save up money to achieve my dream.
Can you tell us more about your dream project?
I want to save up money to buy land and build a small resort or retreat – with yoga, archery and martial arts as well as hydrotherapies and massage. Somewhere you can go and enjoy all these activities together. There’s not many places like this in Australia, where you can go away for five days or two months and come back a new person.
That’s my purpose, why I’m locuming. I think if you don’t have a purpose, you can easily slide. Maybe it’s something small like building a house for your family, but it keeps you going.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell doctors thinking about locum work?
I recommend doctors go with the right agency – one who doesn’t treat you like a product, but actually cares about you. I call Medrecruit and my solutions specialist, Ben, like I’d call a friend. They understand me and they understand how I work and will assist me if I need to change my arrangements due to family issues.