What is a locum doctor?

Locum doctor jobs

A locum doctor, a term derived from the Latin phrase 'locum tenens', which translates to 'place holder', plays a vital role in the medical industry. These medical professionals are temporary doctors who step in to cover for a permanent doctor when they are unavailable due to illness, vacation, or other absences. The duration of a locum doctor's tenure can range from a single day to several months.

The role of a locum doctor is vital in ensuring that patients continue to receive the necessary medical care when their regular doctors are unavailable. They attend to a range of health issues, providing immediate care and treatment to patients, much like a 'home doctor' would. Their work encompasses examining patients, diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medication, and providing other needed medical services.

It's essential to note that despite being temporary, locum doctors are fully qualified physicians. They have completed their medical degrees and residencies, much like any other doctor. They might be general practitioners or specialists in fields such as pediatrics, surgery, or psychiatry.

One of the significant benefits of being a locum doctor is flexibility. These medical professionals can choose their working hours, locations, and the duration of their contracts, which often allows for a more balanced work-life scenario. They also bring diversity and fresh perspectives to the medical teams they join, enhancing patient care and service delivery.

Locum doctors often work irregular hours, providing medical care during times when it might be hard to find. They may work late-night shifts, weekends, or holidays, ensuring continuous patient care in clinics and hospitals. This role is especially crucial in rural and underserved areas, where the number of permanent doctors may be insufficient to cater to the community's health needs.

However, the role of a locum doctor is not without its challenges. They must quickly adapt to new environments, systems, and teams. Also, they often need to familiarise themselves with a new patient's medical history swiftly to provide appropriate care.

Despite these challenges, the contributions of locum doctors to the medical industry are immense. They ensure continuity of services and alleviate staff shortages, thereby helping to address one of the significant issues facing the healthcare industry globally. Their role also brings flexibility and diversity into the medical workforce, enriching the provision of healthcare services.

Locum doctors are valuable assets to the medical industry, providing much-needed flexibility and ensuring the continuous delivery of medical services. They help to address health issues across communities, often stepping into roles at short notice, making significant contributions to patient care and the overall healthcare industry.

Medrecruit is a locum agency. This is a medical recruitment agency that finds doctors work in either short-term (locum) or permanent roles. Medrecruit is Australasia's leading locum recruitment agency, we offer our recruitment services to employers such as hospitals, private practices, and clinics when they have roles that need to be filled.

Here are the answers to all the frequently asked questions we get about what a locum doctor is, what the benefits are, and how an agency (like Medrecruit) could help you in your locum career.

What does locum mean in medicine?

As mentioned earlier, locum comes from the word "locum tenens" which means a person filling for a time or temporarily taking the place of another. It is primarily used to describe doctors. Locum doctors do exactly that, they fill roles for a time or temporarily take the place of another.

What is the job of a locum?

A locum doctor fills roles for a time or temporarily takes the place of another. They can work solely as a locum doctor or they can pick up locum shifts around their permanent role. A locum doctor works for themselves as a contractor to the hospitals/practices they are not employed by them. Doctors can start locum work after PGY 2 in Australia and PGY 3 in New Zealand.

How long can you locum for?

Locum doctors fill roles or cover shifts so it could be anywhere between a couple of days of work to six months of work. Many doctors choose longer shifts (1-4 weeks) and enjoy locuming because they can fit these shorter shifts around their lifestyle (or their full-time role!).

What are the benefits of locuming?

Doctors choose to locum for many reasons. The shorter shifts and flexibility offered allows doctors to fit the work around their lifestyle and pursue their passions.. Locum work allows doctors to travel the country and have adventures, and some doctors even make a lifestyle out of it. Locuming can be a great way to learn new skills, and work across a variety of hospitals, or get your rural hours up.. Many doctors who have experienced burnout say a shift to locum work helped them reclaim work/life balance.

How do I find locum work?

A locum recruitment agency, like Medrecruit, can help place you in locum roles that suit your career or lifestyle goals. When perusing the locum lifestyle most doctors choose to work with a medical agency because the agency takes care of all the logistics including booking travel and accommodation - which in most cases is covered. Medrecruit's service is completely free for doctors, we are paid a finders fee by the hospital or clinic for saving them time and providing the right candidate.

How are locum doctors paid?

Locum doctors are paid by the hospital or clinic. As a locum you are paid as a contractor. Your tax structure will be different. In Australia, you will need to provide an Australian Business Number. In New Zealand, you may need to register for GST.

Your recruitment specialist can let you know which method you’ll be paid by for each job you undertake.

When you register with Medrecruit you get access to over 2,000 doctor jobs all over Australasia.

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Medrecruit Editorial Team
13 September 2022Article by Medrecruit Editorial TeamMedrecruit Editor