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 unavailable due to illness, vacation, or other absences. 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 various health issues, providing immediate care and treatment to patients like a 'home doctor' would. Their work encompasses examining patients, diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medication, and providing other 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 like any other doctor.

One significant benefit 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.

"Working as a locum with Medrecruit allows you to choose where and when you work, enabling me to live the life I want. Be that tending to patients, travelling around NZ, being outdoors, or seeing friends. Plus, you get paid well." Dr Sina Karimian

Locum doctors often work irregular hours, providing medical care 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 permanent doctors may be insufficient to cater to the community's health needs.

However, the role of a locum doctor has its challenges. They must quickly adapt to new environments, systems, and teams. They also often need to familiarise themselves swiftly with a new patient's medical history to provide appropriate care.

Despite these challenges, locum doctors make immense contributions to the medical industry. They ensure continuity of services and alleviate staff shortages, helping address one of the significant global healthcare industry issues. 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. They provide much-needed flexibility and ensure the continuous delivery of medical services. They help address health issues across communities, often stepping into roles at short notice and making significant contributions to patient care and the healthcare industry.

Medrecruit is a locum agency. A medical recruitment agency, like Medrecruit, finds doctors for 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 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 pick up locum shifts around their permanent role. A locum doctor works for themselves as a contractor to the hospitals/practices in which they are not employed. Doctors can start locum work after PGY 2 in Australia and PGY 3 in New Zealand.

"Locuming has allowed me to travel quite a bit, see a lot of Regional Australia and meet people from places I would not ordinarily have thought to visit. It has given me the realisation that even in Australia, healthcare is not equal and very dependent on where you live; people are limited by location and the availability of services and specialists, and I find it very rewarding to be able to provide a much needed service to make my patients journey that little bit easier!" Dr Tasveer Singh

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 allow doctors to fit the work around their lifestyle and pursue their passions.. Locum work allows doctors to travel the country and have adventures. Some doctors even make a lifestyle out of it. Locuming can be a great way to learn new skills and work across various 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.

"It has enriched my lifestyle by enabling me to explore more options because I am more flexible with my finances." Dr Li Will Chen

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 considering 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 to save them time and provide the right candidate.

How are locum doctors paid?

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

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

When you register with Medrecruit, you can access over 2,000 doctor jobs in Australia.

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