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dr stephanie

Many physicians are excited when they decide to pursue locums work. The idea of more freedom, money and control over their lives gives them a feeling of exhilaration. However, that feeling of excitement soon turns into disappointment when things don’t go quite as planned. To keep this from happening, there are four steps you must take.

  1. Be clear on why you are pursuing locums work. Are you considering locums to escape a bad job situation? Are you doing it as a way to transition from one permanent job to the next? Or are you trying to make more money so you can reach your financial goals? Be clear about the reason you are pursuing locums so you will be less likely to be upset if things don’t go exactly as planned.
  2. Develop a locums strategy. I tell every physician who practices locums or is considering locums, “Your second job as a locums doctor is to find your next locums position.” You must actively search for and be working towards starting your next locums assignment. Develop a strategy on where you are going to job search, how many locums recruiters you are going to contact, how often you are going to contact these recruiters, and when you are going to set aside time on a regular basis to do the required paperwork. Like the old saying goes, “Time is money.” Therefore, you must put the time into looking for locums work if you want to make money doing locums work. In other words, you need a strategy.
  3. Adjust your expectations. This is key. Locum tenens is Latin for “place holder.” As long as you remember you are “holding the place of” a permanent physician until that physician can be found, you will be fine. To put it more bluntly, as I was once told when I did a locums assignment, “You are just a ‘warm body to fill the shift.’” As harsh as that may sound, I appreciated the honesty of the physician who told me that. I knew right then and there what my role was and what they expected of me. Your role as a locums physician is to provide a standard of care and work within the culture of that organization. You are not there to “change the world.” You are not there to revolutionize the way they practice medicine. Your job is to do your job. Period.
  4. Don’t take it personally. Medicine is business, and locum tenens is no different. The locums industry is a huge component of the health care industry. Therefore, don’t take it personally if you don’t get chosen for an assignment. So many factors are taken into consideration when choosing a physician for an assignment. Things like cost, availability, licensing, credentialing, insurance, etc., must be considered. There are so many moving parts involving the client, the locums company, and the physicians—and it can take months for things to come together. Sometimes, things just don’t work out. Don’t take it personally.

Working as a locums doctor has many benefits. However, given the nature of locums work, you must approach it with a realistic view so you aren’t disappointed or discouraged.

The locums experts at Floyd Lee Locums can help you develop a realistic and successful approach to locums. Contact us today.

Stephanie E. Freeman, MD, earned her Medical Degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. She completed her Internal Medicine Residency at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and her Critical Care Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Freeman also completed a Geriatrics fellowship at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. She obtained her Masters of Business Administration at Auburn University.

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