Tips for locuming full-time from a doctor who's done it

Doctor getting active - Tips for locum doctors

Locuming full-time as a doctor is a great way to earn money, travel and explore your career options. Here at Medrecruit, we’re seeing an increasing number of doctors choosing to locum full-time.

But what are the challenges and perks of locuming full-time? We’ve talked to Dr Yon Yang Yu, who started working with Medrecruit in 2013 as a junior doctor in Australia. In November 2016, he decided to make the move to New Zealand and try locuming full-time.

We talked to Yon about his reasons for becoming a full-time locum doctor, the ups and downs of the locum lifestyle and his tips for doctors considering a similar move.

Why did you decide to locum full-time?   

I first started locuming after I’d just finished a stint as a kids’ doctor and thought it would be a good idea to do some general locum work and gain more experience with adults before I moved to ‘GP land’. I thought it was going to be for me, but it didn’t meet my expectations.

So, I decided to go to New Zealand. I’d visited before, but thought I’d have a ‘thinking sabbatical’. I wanted time to do, you know, those millennial things. To have a break and try out the lifestyle and the system.

I’m from Perth, but my folks lived on Christmas Island. I got to work in the regions in Australia at Uni and that gave me an appetite for travel and broadened my horizons. I suppose I’m the apple that’s rolled far from the tree and maybe I’m destined for the vagabond life!

What do you like about the locum lifestyle in New Zealand?

I could be doing this for the long haul. I’m seriously considering taking up a non-medical role and doing locum stints as I don’t want to give up my skills directly.

I’ve worked in Palmerston, Masterton, Nelson, Dunedin and I’m now in Southland. It’s been a breath of fresh air working in the NZ health system; there’s more of a can-do attitude. It’s very positive. I’ve met a lot of interesting doctors and nurses – they’ve all got an interesting double life! And I do get to see them again through repeat placements.

What are the challenges of locuming full-time?

Making the transition to New Zealand, I’ve noticed the computer systems vary a lot. But because I’d done placements in Australia, I knew to have a little quick reference thing on my phone, with usernames and door codes etc.

The first day or two, you’re not as efficient as you’d like to be which can be frustrating. But people understand that and you have to accept it.

What advice would you give someone thinking about undertaking locum work as a doctor?

Enjoy the area that you’re in, don’t be in a mad rush and take time to soak up the location.

I’d also recommend the old ‘Mum and Dad’ advice about eating better and staying physically active. It’s not an issue for me now, but when I first started out… well, you can be forgiven for not wanting to eat right or do anything active – but you really need to.

You’ve got to practice what you preach, if you’re happy to give others lifestyle advice, you should follow that yourself. There’s a culture in medicine of staying back and going the extra mile, but I’d advise any new players to make sure you work hard while you’re working, but that you take breaks, finish when you’re supposed to and take care of yourself.

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Bethany Rogers
25 May 2018Article by Bethany RogersMedrecruit Editor