What's it like locuming as a couple?

Locum doctors

Whilst locuming offers invaluable opportunities to gain a variety of experience in medicine, being on the road can sometimes present challenges when it comes to maintaining a relationship.

With research finding that around 40% of physicians in doctor jobs marry other doctors, locuming together is becoming more and more popular, especially when you can go to great holiday locations, like Port Macquarie.

Dr Phil Gale and Dr Rebecca Kelly both completed their training at the Royal Hobart in Tasmania. After having not worked in ED for over a year, they took the opportunity to do some locum work before they started their full-time jobs as emergency registrars, to ease them into the next stage!

What was the initial attraction to locuming?

“One of the reasons we both did medicine was because it is so transferable, and it allows us to travel. We wanted to gain more experience, the pay is really good and as a junior doctor you are supervised by seniors, so it doesn’t feel like you’re being a cowboy somewhere.

We thought – wouldn’t it be great to try out a different workplace and have a bit of a working holiday on the beach – especially when it was 5 degrees in Tasmania!

You’re also boarded, it really does tick all the boxes” explains Phil.

Was it nerve-wracking committing to your first locum?

“We’d never worked at another hospital before… we completed all our training and previous experience in Hobart… so I would say I was a little scared about that.

We hadn’t worked in ED since our internship and had gotten jobs as ED Registrars from June in Hobart. I was nervous about becoming a registrar, so it was nice to locum as a resident” Rebecca shares.

“Once we got there it was amazing, Medrecruit organised everything, and the hospitals were great – they trained us on the online systems the day we arrived. I think the induction was around 3 hours, which made it easy to get on top of all the online systems.” Phil adds.

What would you say are the benefits of locuming as a couple?

“It’s quite hard being in a new place when you don’t know anyone – so it’s amazing to have your best friend there with you,” says Rebecca.

“With our normal jobs, despite us being on the same level, it’s very hard to coordinate shifts and days off. We’ve been working together for over 2 years and have a day off together once every 3-4 weeks.

Then we went to Port Macquarie and they lined up our rosters – it was awesome! We had the same days off and arranged things to do together. That’s what made it really feel like a holiday” adds Phil.

What was Port Macquarie like?

“Lots of awesome surf! We were right on the beach and went camping on our days off” says Phil.

“I went bodyboarding…” Rebecca laughs, “We were 50m from the beach, in the mornings we would go for a swim or surf, and spend time on the beach. If we had the afternoon off we would go for a walk and have a drink, it was super relaxing. The place MedRecruit put us up in was epic.

It’s a real mix of retired Sydney wealthy people and the impoverished local population – which is really interesting.

What you can do in their emergency department was different, for example in Port Macquarie you can administer thrombolytics for a heart attack which you wouldn’t be able to do elsewhere.”

Did you learn a lot?

“In Hobart, the population is more middle-aged, we see lots of chronic diseases and older patients in the emergency department, however, there was lots of sicker younger people we wouldn’t expect to see. Lots of diseases you would expect to see in people 30 years older.

There were more presentations of drug use… we really aren’t used to that in Hobart. Whilst it’s not good for them, medically it was interesting for us” explains Phil.

“It was a really good experience to work with a different population, we got to gain different perspectives and find out what sort of limitations there are at different hospitals.

Working in such a rural location, you don’t have all the services at your fingertips, you have to organise retrievals from different hospital” adds Rebecca.

What would be your top tip for those thinking of locuming?

“There’s no need to jump into a training programme. As a junior or registrar, now is the perfect time to locum, the perfect time to travel and have new experiences before you are a senior or locked into a training programme.

It’s such a great way to travel and to earn extra money” says Rebecca.

Phil adds “The variability of a new workplace and new environment makes you get rid of your tunnel vision. It jolts you out of autopilot – which often happens with medicine.

I would say – JUST DO IT!”

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Rachael Walsh
21 July 2022Article by Rachael WalshMedrecruit Editor