If you have just started out in medicine you may be starting to hear locum doctors or 'locum tenens' mentioned. You may have already discovered that a locum doctor fills roles for a time or temporarily takes the place of another, and you may have heard some doctors saying how the flexibility that comes with locum work has improved their wellbeing.
You can start locum work after PGY 2 in Australia and PGY 3 in New Zealand with a locum agency, like Medrecruit, to help find the roles.
You may be wondering if locum work is right for you, that's why we have laid out all the pros and cons of locum work below to help you decide if it is something you would like to try.
Working as a locum doctor allows you to take control of where and when you work. Placements last anything from a few hours to a year which means you can fit them around your lifestyle. This might mean more time for your passions or more time for family, friends, or health and fitness.
Many doctors say the flexibility that comes with locum work allows them to recover from or beat burnout. Locuming allows you to work on your own time and work as little or as much as you like. Working as a doctor is inherently stressful and the freedom to choose your hours alleviates some of that. Locum work also allows you the time to work on your own mental health and wellbeing and pursue activities outside of medicine,
Locuming allows you to travel with your work. Thousands of placements are now available in hospitals, clinics, and medical centres across Australia and New Zealand. Locum work allows you to experience life in a different town, city, or country for as little or as long as you want. Some doctors even make a lifestyle of it or take their partners, families, or pets on the road! Medrecruit has over 2,000 locum jobs across Australiasia, feel free to have a browse and see if there's something that excites you.
Locum work is a great way to earn more. You can do this by working extra shifts alongside your usual role or taking locum roles in rural locations. When locum positions need to urgently be filled they often pay more too. In Australia, locum Consultants are earning up to $3000 a day, and in some cases, junior locums are earning $2,000 a day.
Many doctors love the autonomy that comes with locum work. They get to choose where they work, when they work, and make work fit around their schedule.
Locum work allows you to explore diverse and interesting areas of medicine. Whether you are working in a bustling metropolitan with state-of-the-art equipment or a small rural town where you get to perform procedures above your station - you will learn something new at every locum station. Doctors use locum work to discover new career paths or try different working environments.
We have covered the pros of locum work (and there are many), now, let's look at the cons...
Travel (which can be a pro for many) could be a con for some. If you do not like or want to travel too far from home then locum work may become a burden if there is only work in other areas of the country. Ways to combat this are only taking locum roles close to home, taking shorter shifts so you are spending less time away, changing your perspective so see new places as an adventure, or taking your loved ones on the road then you won't feel as if you've left home.
Working in different hospitals and different locations can get lonely. You may not know anyone and it can be hard to meet new friends when you are busy on the job. The good news is there are many ways around this, like taking on locum shifts in the same hospitals repeatedly, taking work in small towns where fostering relationships with clients and co-workers is easier, or connecting with your peers on a professional network for doctors like Medworld.
We hope that this article was useful to you in weighing up the pros and cons of locum work. If you decide that locum work is for you we have a dedicated team of specialists who can find you your next locum role. Our service is completely free for doctors as we are paid to find the best candidates by the hospitals and clinics.
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