By Lisa Grabl, President, CompHealth
All family physicians start their careers with the best of intentions, but after years of putting patients’ interests before their own, even the most dedicated physicians can start to feel burned out. If you feel like you take more time completing paperwork than helping patients, spend excessive time at work, or are too exhausted after a long shift to enjoy your passions, locum tenens could be the key to rediscovering your passion for medicine.
By choosing where and when you want to work, you can take back control of your career. These four physicians have taken full advantage of the opportunities that locum tenens provides, and they’ve all discovered they’re happiest practicing medicine on their own terms.
Living your best life
Dr. Colin Zhu, a family physician and osteopath, works locum tenens because it allows him to live the life he wants. “I get to dictate my own lifestyle,” he says. “With more time and freedom, I’m able to pursue other passions.”
In addition to medicine, Dr. Zhu is fascinated with preventive medicine and how food can be used to improve his patients’ health. This interest led him to attend culinary school prior to completing his residency. Today, he combines the two to provide comprehensive counseling to his patients.
Locums allows Dr. Zhu to spend more time with patients than on paperwork. “It allows me the freedom to explain their disease process,” he says. “It’s more fulfilling to me because I’m teaching them what is going on with their body and health, and, with education, it empowers them to do things differently as opposed to just taking a pill.”
Participating in medical missions
Dr. Mark Peterson has been a family physician for 39 years and has had the opportunity to practice medicine on nearly every continent, including Antarctica. Working locums has given him the flexibility to participate in numerous medical missions around the globe.
Recently, he spent several months in Cameroon and Guinea with a nonprofit called Mercy Ships. He calls the experience “the most satisfying thing I ever did in my career.” “You don’t have a chance to do that kind of life transformation in very many places,” he says.
In addition to providing care to people around the world, Dr. Peterson has learned to be flexible in his approach to medicine. “You’re going to find that the way you’ve done it is not necessarily the only way,” he says. “There are many ways to get to the same results.”
Finding the perfect job
Dr. Danielle Anderson first heard about locum tenens during her final year of residency as an OB-GYN. After becoming dissatisfied with her first permanent position, she decided to try locums. “I literally remember googling locum tenens to understand more,” she says.
Dr. Anderson had been working locums for two and a half years when she began an assignment in Burbank, California. She assumed it would be temporary, but she eventually accepted a permanent position there. “It’s a good trial basis for both the employee and employer,” she says. “I would recommend it to [anyone] and everyone if you’re able to have a ‘locum to perm’ experience.”
Dr. Anderson credits her experience working locums for helping her find the ideal permanent position. Working locums, she says, “has taught me a lot of things that I would or wouldn’t want in a practice.”
Despite finding a position she loves, Dr. Anderson still sees locums in her future. “It’s still near and dear to me,” she says, “so I intend to do some weekend assignments as a locum as well.”
Exploring international locums work
After working as a family physician at a private practice for 25 years, Dr. Marye Lois McCroskey was ready for something different. She began looking at locums as a way to do some traveling with her husband.
The couple spent three years in Hawaii, where they spent time exploring the islands in between assignments. Some of Dr. McCroskey’s greatest discoveries on the islands came from her patients. “By working within a community, you get to find that off-the-beaten-path stuff that makes your experience really memorable,” she says.
After leaving Hawaii, Dr. McCroskey accepted a locums position in the U.S. Virgin Islands. One assignment eventually became two, and she ultimately spent about a year on the islands.
She’s now decided to take a more permanent position in the Florida Keys, and she says her experience working locums helped steer her toward the decision. “We learned living on Maui, and again living in the Virgin Islands, that we’re very comfortable living on an island,” she says.
Working locum tenens is a great way for physicians to practice medicine the way they want, whether it’s fulfilling a desire to travel, devoting time to other passions, or testing out a permanent position before signing a contract.
“There’s a locums job for everyone, and I think that if you are able to educate yourself more on what locums is, then you’ll have a better understanding of the different, vast opportunities it allows you,” says Dr. Zhu.
Lisa Grabl is president of CompHealth, the nation’s largest provider of locum tenens physicians and founder of the traveling physician industry. Lisa is passionate about building lasting relationships and helping her team members reach their highest potential.
Are you interested in learning more about locum tenens opportunities? Contact CompHealth today for more information.
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