After long hours with low pay and years of education and training, you’ve finished your residency. Hurray! It’s a momentous occasion.
At this point, many doctors take a long-term position, but some opt to go with a locum tenens assignment instead. Locum tenens allows new physicians the chance to explore, travel, gain additional experience, make great money, and find work-life balance — among numerous other benefits.
Here are nine reasons physicians choose to work locum tenens after residency.
1. The experience.
Locum tenens provides freedom, flexibility, and travel opportunities.
“Someone who just completed residency has put in a lot of hard work that was very structured and dictated to them. Now, they can get out there and do what they want to do,” says Adriann Mathis, director of Global Medical Staffing’s domestic division. “Locum tenens provides physicians an incredible opportunity to have work-life balance, the opportunity to get out there while still being in love with the practice of medicine, and the ability to do some traveling while making a great living,”
2. Earn more money.
Domestic locum tenens positions pay competitively with long-term positions, and some pay even more than a typical full-time position, particularly if a client needs to get a shift covered right away or in certain high-demand specialties like psychiatry.
In addition to the potential for a higher salary, locum tenens positions include housing or a housing allowance, along with malpractice insurance coverage, and some even include a transportation allowance.
3. Test run a geographical location or healthcare facility.
Not sure where you want to settle down. You can try out different locations across the U.S. with a locum tenens assignment. We have numerous positions in many locations across the country. You also might be able to find a locum tenens position in a specific healthcare facility in order to get a feel for the team, administrators, and working style ahead of signing a long-term contract.
“Locum tenens provides so many more options to figure out where you ultimately want to land. Or maybe you’ll find that you want a career doing locum tenens and not feel so tied down to one practice or one setting,” Mathis says.
4. Gain exposure to different practice settings, care delivery models, and health systems.
Experiencing how healthcare is delivered in remote parts of the U.S. or other parts of the world can put a fresh spin on medicine. Depending on the assignment, you can see what it’s like to practice in a small hospital, a small private practice, a large hospital, or even a government-funded healthcare system like New Zealand or Australia.
5. Work-life balance.
With locum tenens, you can show up, work your 40 hours, and detach without being responsible for client billings, lots of on-call hours, and vast amounts of paperwork. This is a perfect way to recover from the long hours of medical school and residency, explains Dr. Johnny Shen. Dr. Shen so enjoys the work-life balance that working tenens provides that he’s made it his full-time career, and he’s only one of numerous doctors choosing this route for most or all of their careers.
6. For international assignments: New culture, new country, decent pay — plus, you’ll broaden your knowledge and CV.
International assignments allow you to live like a local somewhere else. You’ll spend enough time in the new place to thoroughly explore it, while meeting a network of locals (who often become friends) that will steer you to the location’s very best places. Additionally, with locum tenens, you’re working in areas of need, so your medical skills truly help people, which also expands your skill set and adds to your CV.
“Physicians take international assignments for different reasons,” says Matt Brown, director of Global Medical Staffing’s international division. “For instance, physicians go to New Zealand for the experience, for the lifestyle, and for the travel opportunities. Physicians go to Guam because it’s close to everything you would want to see in Asia, pays a U.S. wage, offers shorter assignments, and is our U.S. healthcare system that physicians are familiar with. Australia provides typical U.S. physician pay and allows you to travel extensively all around Asia.”
Read more here.
7. A long-term, high-paying practice in another country.
For physicians looking to make a permanent move to another country, locum tenens provides the perfect route. We secure the assignment, the work visa, and pay many of the travel/living expenses for the duration of the initial contract. This sets up a physician to more easily secure a resident visa and begin living in the foreign country permanently.
Dr. Tara Piech pursued locum tenens with the goal of using it as a stepping-stone to move permanently to New Zealand. Dr. Piech, her husband, and son were drawn to New Zealand "for the weather, the nature, the relaxed lifestyle, the sensible political climate, and the universal medical care," she says. She took a locum tenens assignment as soon as she retired from the military and made it permanent from there.
"We also have physicians who complete a typical international contract of nine months to a year and fall in love with the area, the people, and the way of practicing medicine," says Lindsey Schoenberg, Global Medical Staffing placing manager. "Some of them then rearrange their life to make a permanent move possible.
8. Waiting for your life partner to finish school or residency.
If you have a partner still in residency or undergoing some other type of job training, locum tenens can provide you with money and valuable experience — while your partner catches up so you can look for full-time positions together.
For good reason, residencies and teaching hospitals are set up to help ensure that an individual’s inexperience does not harm a patient — and many larger facilities continue to somewhat limit autonomy. If you are looking for more responsibility, with locum tenens, you can choose an assignment that’s a better fit.
Whatever you’re looking for in your career, locum tenens can help you find it.
“I get really excited for this younger group of doctors who are graduating because of the opportunity that locum tenens provides,” Mathis says. “With locum tenens, they have the freedom to go out and explore while making a really great living. When I was younger, I thought that medicine always meant 80-hour workweeks and not much work-life balance. Locum tenens really helps to provide that balance. You can work as much or as little as you like. Additionally, physicians go into medicine because they think of the impact they can have on people’s health and well-being, and with locum tenens, they can truly focus on the patients and not have to worry about running a practice or hospital politics.”
Ready to explore our positions yourself? Click the orange button below to browse our current openings or give us a call at 1.800.760.3174.
Locums for a Small World Blog
You've thought before about an international assignment, but how do you know if the timing is right? Take our fun, short, eight-question quiz to find out whether you’re ready to head off on your own international locum tenens assignment.
Ever consider doing a short work stint on the other side of the world to immerse yourself in another culture, explore the tropics, and travel throughout Asia? When Dr. Kevin Arnold approached retirement from fulltime urgent care, he and his wife, Linda, wanted to explore new places, so they researched options and talked to Global Medical Staffing. In the end, they picked Guam for its nearly limitless potential for travel.
“It’s America’s other tropical paradise,” Dr. Arnold says. “At 10 p.m., it’s still 80 degrees. It was a delight to experience weather like that.”
Almost like a vacation rather than work
In the mornings before Dr. Arnold’s shift started at noon, he and Linda had plenty of time to explore and relax. They went hiking in the jungle, saw tourist sights like the local World War II museums, and spent time poolside.
The couple also checked out Guam’s massive amusement and water park, along with exploring all kinds of natural pools out in the jungle.
“You go in and hop into tiny lagoons among the rocks,” Dr. Arnold explains, “which is a lot of fun since it’s always hot and sunny.”
True to its reputation, Guam provided the Arnolds with numerous travel opportunities. For instance, they took a three-day weekend to visit Tokyo, and after the assignment, they flew to Manila, and during a month-long adventure, also checked out Singapore, Vietnam, China, South Korea, and Japan.
“Guam is like the ‘Chicago of Asia,’” explains Dr. Arnold. “You can easily go anywhere on that side of the world.”
And about the current tensions between the U.S. and North Korea — Dr. Arnold says that the U.S. military, which maintains a strong presence in Guam, showed no signs of concern, nor did the local people, so the Arnolds didn’t worry.
Medicine in Guam
Practicing medicine in Guam felt refreshingly different to Dr. Arnold from his 35 years of urgent care experience in Wisconsin, something that included many colds and sinus infections. “I treated almost no sinus infections in Guam, a real treat for me,” he says with a grin.
Territorial authorities own the hospital where Dr. Arnold worked, so like any public hospital, it operates on a tight budget. That said, the technology was all up-to-date, Dr. Arnold adds.
He treated many abscesses along with sprains and strains in the local population. “I had a little bit of a learning curve with the Chamorro culture, in that they do everything as a family, including coming into the clinic together and all staying in the exam room during procedures.” But he adjusted quickly, he says. “The Chamorro people are friendly and gracious.”
He also saw a mix of tourists, most of whom didn’t speak English, so he made good use of the Google translator app. Through this, and some of the nurses, the patients and Dr. Arnold communicated back and forth without problems.
A welcoming people
The people are friendly and inviting, Dr. Arnold emphasizes. While there, the Arnolds went to a couple of local festivals, including one that celebrated the Chamorro indigenous culture. Residents invited them to try the local food dishes. “I asked if I could buy our meals, and they said please join us, for free. They’re very inclusive,” Dr. Arnold explains.
While there, the Arnolds both easily made friends — Dr. Arnold mostly through work and Linda through social groups, like a book club. Now, they keep in touch with their new friends in Guam.
Step outside your comfort zone
If you’ve ever considered traveling and practicing medicine in another part of the world, all while earning a typical U.S. physician salary, consider Guam. Physicians can take short three-month assignments like Dr. Arnold did, and licensing and privileging prove no harder than anywhere else in the United States, he adds.
“It’s a step outside your comfort zone, but the experience is rich and fulfilling,” Dr. Arnold says. “You’re taking care of a population that really needs doctors. I would definitely urge you to try it.”
Take your spouse and family along, he adds. “Linda really enjoyed it, and the physician who replaced me signed up for two years and even brought his kids,” Dr. Arnold says. “All and all, our experience there ended too soon.”
Click the button below to browse our current opportunities. Or just pick up the phone and give us a call at 1.800.760.3174.
Thinking about exploring another part of the world, while working and gaining valuable career experience? Global Medical Staffing can help make it happen.
We place physicians in first-world countries for six-month to one-year assignments (and shorter assignments in U.S. territories) — and as part of our services, we handle all the logistics of securing the assignment, your visa, and any necessary professional credentials. And, in most of our international assignments, we pay for your airfare, housing and transportation.
The reasons physicians choose a particular part of the world vary, so it pays to learn about the differences in healthcare systems, along with the unique benefits these places offer.
Australia: Good pay and plenty of travel opportunities
Physicians in Australia make good money, similar to what doctors make in the U.S. That’s a big part of the draw for physicians doing locum tenens there — that and the boundless travel potential.
In Australia, the remote areas need physicians (not the urban centers), which means locum tenens physicians on assignment in Australia practice in facilities similar to those found in rural areas in the U.S. (adequate but not super high-tech).
“Typically, physicians decide to take a locum tenens placement in Australia in order to make good money while traveling extensively all around the country and region,” explains Matt Brown, director of Global Medical Staffing’s international division.
Australia provides universal healthcare to citizens, so locum tenens physicians can see high case loads but get paid a pre-negotiated salary that eliminates the hassle of medical billing.
“Our international locum tenens physicians often tell us that they desire a break from private health insurance billing — and they get that in Australia and in most of our international placements,” Brown says.
Three doctors share what it’s like to work locum tenens assignments in Australia.
New Zealand: A slower pace of life in a gorgeous, wild country
Many of New Zealand’s home-trained doctors (1 in 6) go to other countries like Australia for better compensation, which results in a need for physicians throughout all of New Zealand.
“This provides numerous opportunities for visiting physicians in both urban and rural areas,” Brown says.
In fact, any qualified physician who wishes to live like a local in New Zealand for six to 12 months should be able to go, as New Zealand needs physicians in all medical specialties.
Other benefits: great weather, friendly people, and skills that easily transfer. “New Zealand makes it really easy for visiting doctors,” Brown explains.
“The pay is much lower than what a U.S.-practicing doctor makes, so physicians go to New Zealand for the experience,” says Brown. “They go for the lifestyle of being able to walk right out their door into nature to hike and to surf, to travel extensively, and to get back to the roots of practicing real medicine. Every doctor loves their time there.”
Find out how this physician found a new love for medicine while on assignment in New Zealand.
Guam and the U.S. territories: Toehold into Asia
Guam and the Pacific Islands use the U.S. healthcare system, so the quality of care and the way practices operate are identical to U.S. rural areas, making it easy for physicians to adjust.
Because visas and special licenses aren’t required, since Guam is a U.S. territory, doctors who decide to take an assignment can go for a short time while earning the same high wages as they would in the continental U.S.
“Guam is close to everything you would want to see in Asia, making it a perfect way to access all of Asia for travel and exploration. Because of the similarities in pay and assignment duration, going to Guam looks more like what taking a locum tenens assignment within the continental U.S. looks like,” Brown says.
Get one doctor’s take here.
Canada: Good work/life balance, good pay, pretty places
In Canada, healthcare operates as a single-payer government system with some private hospitals and clinics too. Locum tenens physicians earn a similar salary as they would in the U.S. The quality of care and the facilities rank high, but physicians work with large case loads. That said, many locum tenens physicians report that Canadian physicians experience a better work/life balance and lower burnout rates than U.S. physicians. Additionally, assignments can take physicians to especially beautiful places.
We offer two scenarios in Canada:
- The typical international locum tenens situation where you’re not responsible for client billings and instead receive a pre-negotiated salary.
- A longer-term model. “Physicians can own part of the practice and begin to set up their long-term home in the community,” Brown says.
We can arrange for a Canadian citizen to begin practicing in Canada within two weeks. For a U.S. doctor, it takes three to six months to get everything, such as visas and licenses approved, but, as with all our international placements, we secure these for you.
Take the leap
If you’re considering an international placement, we can help you turn your dream into reality.
“Reach out to us with what you want your adventure, downtime, and medical practice to look like, and we can help you find the perfect fit,” says Brown. “Helping place physicians in the right assignments is what we do.
Click the button below to browse our current opportunities. Or just pick up the phone and give us a call at 1.800.760.3174.
Have you ever wanted to get off the beaten path to travel, revitalize the passion for your career, and experience another culture? Dr. Sara Jalali chose exactly that when she lined up a six-month international locum tenens assignment in Whanganui, New Zealand, through Global Medical Staffing.
“It feels like a working holiday. I just love seeing the country!” says Dr. Jalali.
Dr. Jalali first contemplated international locum tenens after hearing about it at a conference during her residency. Over the years, she kept coming back to the idea, and eventually took steps to make it a reality.
Her only regret? This assignment lasts only six months.
A family affair
As part of putting the assignment into motion, Dr. Jalali’s husband took a sabbatical from work in order to join her.
“He just can't rest, so he ended up doing a couple pro bono projects for local organizations here in Whanganui,” she says with a laugh. “I joke that he’ll run for mayor one day because he seems to know everyone.” He also took time in New Zealand to pursue a passion: building a guitar."
Today I stopped by our neighbor's wood shop to see my husband's progress building a bass under the guidance of Kevin, a luthier. Whanganui is a very artistic town with opportunities for classes in woodworking, ceramics, glass blowing, and just about anything else you want to try!
Discovering gorgeous vistas and yummy foods
Dr. Jalali and her husband love Whanganui’s beauty and its artistic culture. It makes for an ideal home, even if only for a half year.
Check out this sunset view from our home. We feel so lucky to look out the window and see the famous Whanganui River snaking around the city to our left, and lush green hills with sheep, donkeys, chickens, and horses to our right! This town has a perfect blend of rural and urban vibes.
They’ve extensively explored the town, made many friends, and delighted in the local cuisine, which Dr. Jalali calls “truly farm-to-table fresh.”
Check out this photo from an egg shop where you can pick your eggs based on size, single or double yolk, free range, etc. On that note, not far from here you can get unpasteurized milk out of a vending machine!
In order to travel all over New Zealand, Dr. Jalali works a stretch of shifts over two weeks, then takes advantage of a week or more off. After the assignment, they plan to see Fiji and Australia as well.
Medicine that matters
New Zealand allows doctors to spend more time with patients and provide care to those who truly need it, something Dr. Jalali finds refreshing.
“The people are lovely — so appreciative, patient, and kind. Patients often tell me, ‘You can send me home; you guys are busy, and other patients need this bed more than I do,’ ” says Dr. Jalali.
Because of this, the assignment has helped revitalize her passion for medicine.
“Only three years out of residency, I already started feeling burned out. Coming here has reminded me why I went into emergency medicine in the first place. This is what I always thought practicing in my field would entail.”
The clinics and hospitals where locum tenens physicians work make sure that new staff quickly get indoctrinated into the new culture through cultural training, along with the ongoing help of cultural liaisons.
Meet two valuable colleagues in the Emergency Department: Ren and Kiri, liaisons for our Maori Health Services who assist our multidisciplinary teams with family-centered care, discharge planning, and community services. Their invaluable support facilitates relationships between patients, families, and staff.
“Oh, and the ED facilities are absolutely first-rate,” she adds. “The technology is even more up to date than the big name hospitals in the U.S. that I came from!”
Dr. Jalali urges physicians to give international locum tenens a go. It delivers opportunities to travel, get a new perspective on medicine, and do meaningful work. “Just do it,” she says. “It provides such amazing experiences.”
Dr. Jalali recently took over our Instagram to share pictures from her locum tenens assignment in New Zealand. Head over to our Instagram page to see all her photos.
Interested in starting your own international locum tenens adventure? Browse our current opportunities by clicking the button below. Or give us a call at 1.800.760.3174. We're always here to answer any questions you might have.
Imagine jetting to the other side of the world where you’ll immerse yourself in the local culture, travel extensively, and work a flexible schedule. Through our international locum tenens program, many physicians — and their spouses — live like locals in another country.
The idea of taking a break from our incredibly demanding, fast-paced U.S. medical field to see other parts of the world while still earning a living tends to get physicians dreaming. When couples consider how to make it a reality, many logistics come into play, such as whether both need to work or if just one can. For some, the former holds true. Other couples purposefully free up their spouse in order to more fully explore the new area.
Whatever your situation, this Q&A with Andee Nelson, an international placement specialist at Global Medical Staffing, will help clear up basic questions about visas and your spouse’s work privileges.
Can my spouse work too?
Whether or not your spouse can work will depend on many factors, including the location of the assignment, your spouse’s line of work, and your length of stay.
In New Zealand and Australia, where we place many international locum tenens physicians, the rules are that your spouse can work via your work visa if:
- You work there for more than six months.
- Your spouse gets any necessary certifications/licenses to work in his/her profession.
We placed a physician in New Zealand, for example, whose wife wanted to work as a teacher. New Zealand recognized her U.S. training and schooling as valid, allowing her to secure the necessary professional certifications in advance of their trip.
Why does an assignment need to last more than six months for my spouse to work?
A six-month assignment means that you, the physician, and your spouse must enter and leave the country in 182 days — not a day later — and this type of visa does not allow your spouse to work. If you both want to work, let your recruiter know as soon as possible, so we can secure an assignment that’s longer than six months.
Also, if you want to stay in the country longer than 182 days in order to travel, tell us upfront so we can secure the proper visa(s) and assignment to accommodate the extra travel time.
How long does the visa process take?
From when our physicians accept a locum tenens assignment, it takes four to six months to complete the medical registration and attain a visa, which we secure for our physicians.
Can we secure our own visas?
No. We do this for you because you need a job and in-country sponsor before you can apply for your medical certification and visa.
Does my spouse need a sponsor/job offer in the country before we go?
No, not in New Zealand and Australia. In these two countries, your spouse can work under your visa so they don’t need an upfront job offer, in-country sponsor, and separate visa. That said, your spouse may need to secure some type of certification/license to work in his/her field — and you should look into this in advance of your trip.
Can my Global Medical Staffing recruiter help my spouse find work?
If your spouse works as a physician, then yes, we can certainly look to place you both in the same city. If not, then it’s difficult for us to get too involved. That said, let us know if your spouse wants to work so we can secure the proper visa and assignment. Also, we can talk to our in-country clients to see if they know people in your spouse’s field. For example, one spouse worked as a nurse, and although the hospital where we placed our physician didn’t have a position for her, our client connected her to a hospital that did.
Are there typically job opportunities for spouses where you place international locum tenens physicians?
That depends both on the location and your spouse’s field. The bigger the city, the more options your spouse likely will have. Remember that we place physicians in areas of need, which tend to be more rural. So even though we place extensively in Australia, we don’t often see opportunities in Sydney or Melbourne because there’s not a need there. However, we do frequently place physicians in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand, which are both big cities.
What can we do to prepare if we both want to work?
Research what jobs are available and where, keeping in mind where we place physicians. Also find out what types of certifications/licenses are necessary for your spouse to work in his/her professional field in the country where you’re considering a locum tenens assignment. If possible, try to speak with people with experience in that field in that country to gain additional insights.
Can my spouse volunteer while we’re abroad?
Although placing people in volunteer positions isn’t within our realm of expertise and responsibility, we have noticed that some spouses take on volunteer work for altruistic reasons and in order to meet people and get more immersed in the local culture — and because volunteering often doesn’t require special certifications/licenses or visas. If interested, definitely talk to us about it and we can connect you with the in-country client who may know of opportunities.
My spouse may be able to work remotely with their company for six to nine months. Are there special visa considerations?
Neither New Zealand nor Australia would classify your spouse as working in their country for visa purposes since the employer is U.S.-based. For this reason, for these two countries, we would secure a visitors visa for your spouse when we secure your work visa. Other countries apply different rules to this same situation — so you can get more specific with your recruiter when you’re looking at assignments together.
If you’re considering international locum tenens, check out our open positions, do some research about your spouse’s work options, and give us a call at 800.760.3174.
Although we can’t find your spouse a job, we can help point them in the right direction and provide additional resources. Who knows … soon, the two of you could be learning to surf and snorkel, exploring underwater caves, trying exotic foods, immersing yourselves in a different culture, and spending many days simply admiring remote natural wonders — all on the other side of the world.
EDITORS NOTE: There has been a lot of recent media coverage about the security situation in Guam amidst threats from North Korea. This is from one of our clients in Guam: “The reality is that Guam is the most heavily protected island in the world given our location. Our threat level remains unchanged and we have been going about our business as usual despite the media coverage.”
Picture yourself in paradise: warm ocean waters, dozens of sparkling beaches, exotic food and culture, oh, and year-round temperatures between the low 70s and mid-80s Fahrenheit.
Imagine that this locale needs the exact medical skills you have honed over the years, and is willing to reward you with an enviable lifestyle and environment.
Now imagine, that this place — the Micronesian island of Guam, to be precise — is part of the United States, which means they use U.S. currency and already recognize U.S.-trained physicians (among other familiar elements of life in the U.S.). Contrary to recent news reports, Guam is actually a very safe and tranquil country and traveling there is as simple as traveling to another state—no passport or visa required.
You don’t have to imagine, though, really. Everything said about Guam here is 100-percent true. It’s a paradise, it’s a U.S. territory, and it has a continuing need for physicians who are willing to relocate to this unique, beautiful and exciting part of the world for as little as six months.
A Living Travel Brochure
Guam is a living travel brochure. There are great hiking trails, spectacular sunsets, endless beaches and enough history to keep you well occupied.
The local culture has influences from Spain, Japan, the Philippines and the U.S.; the food is varied (and delicious) and culture abounds. Guam is also the place where the United States greets the day — some 14 or 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (with daylight savings time making the difference). It’s also the place where America first welcomes each new year.
The island’s population hovers around the 160,000 mark, and the majority of residents are of Chamorro descent. The presence of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps is another feature of the island, which is also a popular tourism destination for visitors from Japan and the rest of Asia.
Medical Opportunities Abound
For a variety of reasons, including a growing population, there are constant opportunities for locum tenens assignments in Guam: physicians are needed who can provide general and specialized care. Global Medical Staffing regularly sees temporary opportunities that range from 6-12 months (or longer) both on Guam and occasionally surrounding islands as well. In most cases, perks such as airfare, housing, travel and malpractice coverage are included. Schedules, shifts, call coverage and patient loads will vary with each opportunity.
In 2014, Guam Business Magazine noted recent improvements in medical care on the island, as well as the high standards required for incoming physicians to be licensed there: “New physicians coming to Guam must have U.S. residency training beyond the first year after medical school, and new physicians must be board-eligible or board-certified before they can be licensed on Guam.”
While the number of physicians on the island has increased in recent years, there remains a demand for general and specialty care. If you are U.S.-residency trained and are board-eligible or board-certified, there’s likely a place on Guam for you.
We see reoccurring needs for emergency medicine physicians, internal medicine physicians and pediatricians, but we regularly place other specialties as well. Click below to learn more about current locum tenens opportunities, or pick up the phone and call your GMS international placement specialist to discuss current or future assignments. We’re always here to answer any questions you might have.
We’re spotlighting one of our international locum tenens physicians: Dr. Sean Ryan. He chose locum tenens because he loves experiencing other cultures like a local. This prompted him to take an assignment to New Zealand when his daughter was a toddler.
“I was there for six months and received the same vacation as a regular, full-time employee, which was three weeks off. In addition to all kinds of weekend explorations, we [my wife, daughter and myself] took two big trips, one through the North Island, where we went blackwater rafting on innertubes through glowworm caves. The other was to the South Island, where we were able to take a boat trip to Milford Sound, hike on a glacier, and go wine tasting and whale watching."
While on his New Zealand assignment through Global Medical Staffing Dr. Ryan, a psychiatrist, worked with the Māori Mental Health Team that served New Zealand’s native Polynesian people. The team greets all new providers with a traditional welcoming ceremony.
“It was such a welcome beyond anything I would have expected,” says Dr. Ryan. “Additionally, my colleagues were so inviting. I couldn’t have felt more part of that team while I was there.”
The natural splendor of the remote tropics often left him awestruck. “It was so beautiful. Parua Bay was just outside our house, and we could see wildlife and go on hikes deep into the forest right out the front door.”
After that six-month locum tenens assignment, Dr. Ryan took a second assignment in Tasmania, Australia.
"We loved living in Tasmania. Hobart is a fun, walkable city that's surrounded by beautiful nature. We were close to waterfalls and giant tree fern forests, and we loved seeing wild animals like wallabies and echidnas on our hikes."
In between the two assignments, he and his family spent time exploring the Cook Islands, Fiji and Bali. While in Australia, they visited Sydney, Melbourne, and went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef.
New Zealand: A Slower Pace of Life
In the northern, more tropical part of New Zealand, the facilities were small and simple, reminding Dr. Ryan of his past experience in the Eastern Caribbean’s Saint Lucia. Sometimes lab work and radiological exams took longer than in the U.S., but Dr. Ryan quickly adjusted to the differences. In fact, for psychiatry in particular, the slower pace perhaps was more beneficial for patients in order to get more time with physicians and longer in-hospital stays when necessary, he says.
“I reminded myself that it doesn’t matter what country you’re in, the goal is the same: to take care of patients. My advice to other international locum tenens doctors is to settle into that idea, and you’ll have a much easier time adjusting.”
City Life in Australia
His Tasmanian experience was in a modern hospital, similar to the U.S. teaching hospital where he did his residency. There, he made a point of introducing himself to people and setting up social outings in order to get to know his colleagues well, which created lifelong friendships.
That’s the second piece of advice he offers doctors who take an international locum tenens assignment: Get out and meet people.
How Locum Tenens Works
Global Medical Staffing took care of all the logistics for Dr. Ryan, from helping secure Dr. Ryan’s medical licensure for working internationally, to arranging the family’s housing, to booking the flights.
“They even helped with a poorly working vacuum when the landlord was giving us the runaround and just let us purchase one and get reimbursed,” Dr. Ryan points out, a big deal to a family with a toddler. His Global Medical Staffing recruiter also helped the family look into licensing requirements for his wife, a speech pathologist, to see if it was feasible for her to work in Australia as well. “Global Medical Staffing made everything so much easier,” he explains. She opted instead to volunteer at a local vocational college, helping refugees and immigrants learn English, and had an incredible experience.
Although in the U.S. locum tenens assignments pay really well, international locums rates are typically lower. But with the hospitals providing their housing and transportation, Dr. Ryan’s family was actually able to save money, even while traveling extensively. “We thought we would need extra money to do this, and it turned out we put money into savings instead, which was a nice surprise,” says Dr. Ryan.
Ready for More Overseas Adventure
Dr. Ryan is already excited to take on another international assignment when his daughter graduates from high school. In the meantime, in addition to his full-time practice he occasionally takes on a weekend locum tenens assignment in places like Santa Cruz, California, a city he loves visiting.
He says to other healthcare professionals: “Don’t hesitate to look into international locum tenens. It's easier than it seems, especially with a locum tenens company like Global Medical Staffing that assists throughout the whole thing. I can’t wait to go do it again.”
Ready for your own international locum tenens adventure? You can view our current opportunities here. Or just pick up the phone and give us a call at 1.800.760.3174. We're always here to discuss your options and answer any questions you might have.
It’s been a long, successful journey for Global Medical Staffing, since getting its start in 1994 providing physicians to rural facilities in Australia, to its acquisition by CHG Healthcare in 2016.
It’s been an equally successful journey – though not quite as long – for Tyler Black, GMS’ president since January 2017, and a 10-plus year veteran of CHG before taking on the new role.
Tyler recently talked about his background, why GMS is a good partner for CHG, why GMS is part of the National Association of Locum Tenens Associations, or NALTO, and what the future holds for the trail-blazing firm.
Before moving to GMS, Tyler was vice president of CompHealth’s Allied Healthcare Division, which he helped become one of the fastest growing divisions within CHG during his time there. Tyler’s responsibilities included leading sales and support operations for the division of the Salt Lake City-based healthcare staffing firm. He was responsible for the direction and results of sales and support employees as well as for the development of all compensation plans, business intelligence reporting, and divisional marketing strategy.
But, he adds, moving to a newly acquired company within the CHG family was also attractive: “Global was a very exciting opportunity from every angle. Being a growing domestic locums division, along with a unique international team, made GMS extremely attractive. Also, I thought it would be a great learning experience to be part of integrating a newly acquired company to the CHG family.”
Often in business, there are challenges in integrating an acquired company, but Tyler told us “the GMS team was very similar to other teams within CHG. I found some great people who were committed to doing great work, and a culture of taking care of each other. I knew immediately CHG and GMS would be a great fit.”
And, Tyler added, it “made a lot of sense” for CHG to acquire GMS.
“We are the best in the business when it comes to locums and the locums market continues to grow,” he explained. “That and the unique aspect of the international business made GMS not only complimentary to our other business line, but added a new offering CHG didn’t have.”
In addition, the acquisition of Global Medial Staffing increases CHG’s presence among locums providers, he said. “Global’s international placement expertise is also attractive to both physicians and healthcare systems, allowing CHG to expand its leadership position by offering more staffing solutions to clients,” Tyler added.
What are the benefits for physicians? Several, according to Tyler.
“Adding another domestic brand now offers physicians another trusted company where they can have a great experience,” he said. “It offers additional locations, additional clients and options in the domestic space, as well as amazing experiences working abroad with our international clients. Previous to the GMS acquisition, CHG did not have the international aspect. Now, there’s even more access to licensing, credentialing, and travel resources and support.”
GMS clients, Tyler said, “benefit from getting the opportunity to work with another company that is extremely committed to quality, professionalism, integrity, ethics, and ‘Putting People First.’ And, they gain access to even more CHG resources, such as our world-class credentialing department.”
Indeed, he said, it’s “attention to the little details” that separates GMS from others in the field.
“I believe our international experience provides a good sense of how important the small details are in locums,” Tyler explained. “Doctors who are doing assignments for six months or a year often want more details than if an assignment was just a few weeks or a month,” and GMS knows how to provide the needed information and support through its dedicated team of placement specialists.
Tyler added that GMS’ membership in NALTO “sends a message to clients and providers that we are committed to doing things the right way and that we hold ourselves accountable to a certain standard.” NALTO, he points out, has both a code of ethics and standards of practice by which member firms must abide, and serves as a clearinghouse when complaints arise.
And why should a physician choose GMS? That’s an easy question to answer, Tyler said: “It’s our people! We have great people that are committed to making a difference…highly engaged and happy people make GMS a better choice for locum tenens physicians.”
As to GMS’ business outlook, Tyler said it’s certainly a bright one: “I believe the sky really is the limit,” he said. “I see GMS aggressively growing the number of specialties we focus on in both the domestic and international business. Within the next four to five years, I believe GMS can grow its revenue by three or four hundred percent and more than double in size of employees dedicated to making the locums experience a great one for all sides.”
Curious about locum tenens opportunities in the U.S. and throughout the world? You can click here to see what opportunities are currently available.
Short staffed at your facility? Click here to learn about how Global Medical can help with your staffing needs, domestically or abroad.
It’s a tempting idea: Ditch the rat-race for six months (or longer), practice overseas where you can work in the morning and surf or hike in the afternoon—or perhaps the other way around.
It’s also quite possible: Thousands of your colleagues are doing it right now.
The plusses of such work extend beyond catching the perfect wave or “throwing another shrimp on the barbie,” as our Australian friends might say. There’s the chance to engage a different culture, work in a new environment, and enjoy a “working sabbatical” from which you can jump off to explore another part of the world.
For those interested in volunteer and humanitarian work, a short-term overseas assignment can provide proximity to service areas and the extra financial resources to make it happen.
But what do you really know about international locum tenens, and how to get in on the action?
Here are some basic details to help you get started:
THE FEW, THE QUALIFIED, THE LOCUMS PHYSICIANS.
We know practice standards differ from country to country, so it’s important to note that, although there are sometimes exceptions, an international locum tenens practitioner generally must be board certified or board eligible to practice in Australia or New Zealand. In those countries, they also want you to have recent, extensive, postgraduate training or experience–three or more years in a comparable health system. Requirements will always vary from position to positon depending on a number of factors including specialty and training.
Our friends Down Under also want to make sure your medical school is listed in either the WHO Directory of Medical Schools or the ECFMG/FAIMER Directory.
To work in Canada or Singapore, you’ll need to be board certified or a fellow of the various specialty colleges, though this doesn’t apply to Family Medicine or Emergency Medicine physicians.
So, clearly, an international locum tenens assignment may not be possible for everyone—some practitioners may not have all the needed qualifications yet. If your background meets the requirements, you might be able to quickly embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Unsure of whether you meet the qualifications? Give one of our international experts a call and they’ll let you know how your training measures up to what our clients are looking for.
THEY NEED YOU, THEY REALLY, REALLY NEED YOU!
If you’re qualified, here’s some good news: You’re probably needed. Just as there’s a growing need for healthcare in the U.S., the world’s needs are growing, too. In rural and underserved areas of Australia and New Zealand, for example, the need for physicians is strong, because there may well not be enough doctors—or those in your specialty—to go around. Some community hospitals struggle to provide basic services due to a variety of factors: new graduates choosing specialization, expanding local populations, and fill-ins for doctors on maternity leave or who have accrued long-term sabbaticals.
According to Global Medical Staffing international placement specialist Sara Cosmano, “Many of our openings are in attractive communities that have simply grown and require additional medical assistance. Many of the communities are coastal cities with populations ranging from twenty thousand to a million people.”
Translation: You won’t be stuck in the middle of nowhere! (Unless you want to be, that is.)
The compensation is nothing to sneeze at. Your airfare, housing, transportation, and malpractice coverage are typically paid for. Pay will vary from country to country but it’s important to understand that overseas locum tenens assignments generally don’t pay as much as positions in the United States. However, international positions offer additional benefits such as the opportunity to see the world, unique cultural experiences, the chance to help in areas of need, and better work/life balance. Wherever you practice, you’ll earn a competitive wage that will allow you to live comfortably and travel.
If you're not a native English speaker, you may be required to take and pass the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam which measures language proficiency. The test, which has been designed to avoid cultural bias, places users in bands from "1" (non-user) to "9" for an expert speaker.
If it’s nice to be somewhere that you’re wanted, an international locum tenens assignment could provide that — and more.
YOU CAN PUT PATIENTS FIRST. TRULY.
Thanks to the healthcare systems in place in many countries such as Australia and New Zealand, it’s possible for a physician to concentrate on patient care. Yes, there are systems and recordkeeping (paper-based or digital) to be involved with, but the emphasis is on providing optimal care.
Here’s what Sara Cosmano has to say: “Doctors are respected members of the community and patients are genuinely thankful for medical care. Both countries still focus heavily on quality patient care over the business and financial aspects of medicine—one of the top reasons many of our physicians choose to extend or repeat their locum experience.”
That can be a refreshing change from the competing demands a physician faces in the U.S.
IT CAN LEAD TO A WHOLE NEW LIFE — OR A NEW LEASE ON YOUR CURRENT ONE!
The writer David Foster Wallace was right when he said, "Routine, repetition, tedium, monotony…these are the true hero's enemies." It’s not difficult to fall into a rut with the practice of medicine in one place and under one system over time.
Many of those who take international locum tenens assignments say the experience sparked new enthusiasm for doing the work they do. After a few months or a year overseas, they return to the U.S. with a renewed vigor, new experiences under their belt, and perhaps new ways of viewing things. They and their families enjoy the experience of living in a different culture, as well as the travel opportunities this affords.
You could call it a “refresh” or a “reboot” when things have perhaps gone a bit stale—and you get paid for it! Best of all? Working overseas assignments gives many physicians the freedom and work/life balance they so badly want, but can’t get, here in the U.S. Generally speaking, you’ll get to spend more time seeing fewer patients, you’ll work less hours and even get have more time off to travel and explore.
But for some, the adventure goes even further. We’ve seen many practitioners take to living and working overseas and want to extend their assignments indefinitely. Our assistance in placing them on an international locum tenens can be a vital first step towards an overseas relocation, and our staff is here to guide job-seekers through every aspect of the process.
Think about it: your skills, training and experience are in demand in right now in some of the most beautiful locations in the world. You can be well compensated for those skills and expertise, and show your family things they’d possibly never see otherwise, certainly not as part of a new and exciting culture.
An international locum tenens assignment can revitalize your practice of medicine, offer new experiences and perhaps lead to an entirely new life and lifestyle.
Global Medical has placed thousands of top-caliber doctors in facilities throughout Australia and New Zealand, the U.S. and its territories, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, the Caribbean and Canada. We actively recruit doctors from the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe; though we also have recruited doctors from such far-flung areas as Iceland.
To get the process started you can click here to request more information or click below to see what’s currently available.