Locums for a Small World Blog

International Locum Tenens 101 — A Beginner’s Guide

Posted by Mark A. Kellner

Hiker_view_Footer-1.jpgIt’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:

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.
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Topics: doctor, physician, Canada, Locum 101, Locum Tenens, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, international locum tenens opportunity, locum tenens lifestyle, benefits of locum tenens

QUIZ: Where should you take your next international locum tenens assignment?

Posted by Bryan Chouinard

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You've gotten the itch to place your feet on new land, you know that much. But where to go? Take our fun, short, seven-question quiz to find out where you should head off to on your next international locum tenens assignment.

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Topics: Caribbean, Canada, Locum Tenens, Australia, New Zealand, travel, Pacific Islands, international locum tenens opportunity, locum tenens lifestyle

Wondering if you’re ready for an international locum tenens assignment? Ask yourself these 3 foolproof questions.

Posted by Everett Fitch

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What inspires you most in this life? Ask that question to any number of people across many professions and you’ll probably get a different answer each time. Pose that same inquiry to a room full of doctors and we imagine that some aspect of their answers will include the words “helping others.”

Go ahead. Take a minute to answer that question for yourself. In fact, to go about it a slightly different way: what inspired you to become a doctor? Don’t limit it to just one reason, either. To gain medical knowledge and a comprehensive, problem-solving skillset all in an effort to heal others and be of service to society is a noble – albeit arduous – pursuit. But that’s only one component of your answer, right?

We know your desires go deeper because all of our reasons for choosing our unique career paths in life go deeper. Perhaps for you it is the altruism, or your insatiable interest in science and medicine, or that it’s a well-respected field, or you come from a family of doctors, or that it’s a stable career path with great earning potential. Heck, it could very well be all of the above or an entirely different answer altogether.

But at the end of a demanding day in an industry where burnout rates are on the rise and patient care never stops sometimes you have to remind yourself of your reasons in order to stay afloat. Other days you need a little more motivation outside of mentally cataloguing why you started in the first place.

A change in scenery is just what, well, you ordered. And we mean that as conceptual as possible. Something as seemingly small as going for a daily walk or something much bigger like taking that huge vacation you’ve been wanting to for years. Or something even more crucial like changing career paths, finally trying out locum tenens for want of the perks you’re afforded. All three of those “changes in scenery” can be accomplished all at once. In other words you could go for a daily walk in an idyllic island country by taking an international locum tenens assignment.

In an effort to see whether or not you’re at a point in your life where taking a medical job overseas makes sense we’ve come up with these three foolproof questions that will help clear your mind. They’re not scientific by any means; they’re simply honest questions that we’ve compiled from all our years of sending doctors abroad.

First and foremost, do you feel burnt out? (Y/N)

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We suspect that you’ve heard at least some form of burnout talk – whether colloquially or as a real condition at some point in you’re medical career. Maybe you’ve already experienced some symptoms yourself. Keep in mind that it’s not a phenomenon that solely affects the medical field, either. Many professionals have been impacted by burnout.

Christina Maslach, a Stanford social psychologist, developed a cohesive assessment tool many years ago concerning professional burnout. It’s called Maslach Burnout Inventory and it addresses three general scales:

  • Emotional exhaustion: Measures feelings of being emotionally overextended and exhausted by one’s work;
  • Depersonalization: Measures an unfeeling and impersonal response toward recipients of one’s service, care treatment, or instruction;
  • Personal accomplishment: Measures feelings of competence and successful achievement in one’s work.

If you feel emotionally overextended, dispassionate about your work, or have a low sense of personal accomplishment then you may be feeling symptoms of burnout. These are real issues that should be taken seriously. And there are solutions out there outside of an international locum tenens assignment: take time to seek out professional help (yes even doctors need someone to talk to), get restful sleep, exercise frequently, etc. (You can find out more about solutions here.) If you’ve tried everything you can think of then maybe a change of scenery is what you need next.

Have you recently gained more free time in your personal life? (Y/N)

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There’s no doubt about it; the road to becoming a physician is physically, emotionally and financially demanding to say the least. And that’s not counting the balancing act you have to perform with your personal life along the way.

But let’s say life is slowing down a bit. Maybe you’re still living the bachelor life right out of residency and you want to experience an adventure in New Zealand before you take on a full-time pursuit in the States. Or maybe you’re nearing retirement and considering a sabbatical of sorts in Australia. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re mid-career and your kids want a new experience, too. (The public school systems down under are top-notch and they do accept foreign students often.)

Do you want more freedom in your schedule and control over your work life? (Y/N)

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Who is really going to say no to that? Locum tenens gives physicians of all specialties the ability to go where they're needed. And there are a lot of needs around the world. There are limitations at times (e.g., if a position closes or if a need doesn't currently exist in a specific location) but for the most part you get control over where you want to practice and when. On top of that you get more freedom to treat patients. That means you spend less time handling paperwork and processes typically associated with a non-locum-tenens pursuit.

If you answered yes to any of these questions then a medical adventure overseas may be just the journey for you. But if you're still feeling indecisive then we’d like to throw these last two queries your way:

Do you want to see how doctors in different countries deliver care, in other words, would you like to diversify your medical knowledge? (Y/N)

Do you enjoy travel and experiencing other cultures? (Y/N)


It’s possible that all of this has left you with even more ambivalence. Never fear. Our physician placement specialists are here to help. Pick up the phone and give us a call. Or if you're ready to start looking now then click the orange button below to see what opportunities are available.

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Topics: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, travel, burnout, physician burnout, international locum tenens opportunity, Maslach Burnout Inventory, benefits of locum tenens

The winter bucket list for locum tenens doctors who double as photographers – international edition

Posted by Everett Fitch

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Two weeks ago we outlined the finest places around the U.S. for locum tenens doctors to not only visit but places where they can hone their photography skills, too. This week we’re introducing the international edition of our winter bucket list.

Much like the U.S. edition you’ll see places that range from cityscape to countryside. In our list you’ll read about horizons where gleaming granite peaks and cascading waterfalls are far from lacking; where burning giants dominate the night sky over leagues of tussock hills; where neon lights heat up the nightlife all while existing underneath an abundance of coastal mountains; and lastly, where a city is surrounded by a fiery red desert with unforgettable sights and adventures in every direction. Yeah, you’re going to want to bring your camera.

Fiordland National Park – South Island, New Zealand

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At this point it’s a given that New Zealand has immaculate countryside. And Fiordland National Park – which includes Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds – is about as gorgeous as it gets.

Gargantuan glaciers carved this land. There’s a personality here, an energy that is palpable in the coastal mountain air. Air so simultaneously crisp and humid you’ll wonder if you’re in the Rockies or on some beach in Hawaii. Still, you’re going to want to bring a jacket because it can get a tad chilly. Maybe pack some protective/waterproof gear for your camera while you’re at it. Waterfall spray can get a little intense if you’re taking the cruise ship route. Tours can last anywhere from a couple hours to a whole day.

If you really want some epic captures of this diverse landscape then take the Milford Track (this one's by foot). It’s touted as one of New Zealand’s most famous hikes. Have a few days or more to spare? Complete the 33-mile, four-day trip. That way you can really capture awe-inspiring scenery like Sutherland Falls. Learn more about how to book a walk with a tour guide or how to venture out on your own.

Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve – South Island, New Zealand

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To be able to capture a dynamic picture of a waterfall amidst mountain peaks takes a certain artistry for sure. It’s an entirely different kind of finesse to be able to capture the night sky in all its glory. If you’re new to astrophotography here’s a crash course that’s worth reading. But we suspect with some basic know-how you’ll be able to shoot the clear skies in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Reserve, no problem.

A good approach is to create an engaging composition in your long exposure, a bit of tussock land and a large amount of night sky for example. Just do an image search on Google and you’ll see the possibilities that exist here. Aside from simply freeing the skies of all pollution the reserve is also dedicated to protecting the flora and fauna in the area. Take the Big Sky Stargazing tour of Mount John Observatory for an in-depth look of their mission as well as an enlightening examination of the night sky.

Granville Street – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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There’s a street in Vancouver where neon lights used to shine in plenitude far and wide. It’s called Granville Street; you can’t miss it. Though over the past couple decades the flashing signs have been reduced. There is a new interest as of late to bring back what was once thought to be the luminous soul of the city. (Pack your street lens – 50mm or less – for this stretch of town).

This resurgence exists in preserving neon lights even if the business is long gone. If you want to see some of the signs that have fallen prey to neon bans over the years you can find those at the Vancouver Museum. They hold a collection of vintage neons there like the Smiling Buddha Cabaret sign.

What makes this radiant portion of Vancouver truly incredible and unique is that the North Shore Mountains tower not far off. It’s not all glitz and glamour like some neon cities. When we think neon we think Las Vegas where casinos stand among desert scenery or we picture massive cities such as Tokyo where there’s no shortage of skyscrapers. Granville Street is home to a glowing nightlife, sure, but Vancouver is still a mountain city at heart.

Alice Springs – Northern Territory, Australia

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Last but not least is Alice Springs: the gateway to Australia’s outback, its Red Centre. Not the only gateway of course but definitely one of the most visited. That’s because Uluru is nearby: a sacred sandstone formation protected by the Anangu (an Aboriginal people).

Visit even more striking sights, too, like Kings Canyon, Simpson Desert and the Devils Marbles. The last one is a can’t miss. To the Warmangu Aboriginal people these large granite boulders are sacred. When you see them in person you’ll understand why.

Do you really want to make your trip to Alice Springs a success? Book a tour by camelback to watch the sun rise and/or set where Uluru serves as the backdrop. Quite spectacular. Yeah, you can probably guess by now that Alice Springs is a remarkable place to capture very distinct landscapes. You can even stay within the city limits and discover Aboriginal art galleries or learn more about the eclectic history of the town itself.

We know. Technically only one place on this list is in the midst of winter. The rest are in the heart of their Southern Hemispherean summer right now. But if you're in the Northern Hemisphere it's still winter travel to us. No matter. You can visit these stunning sights in any season and still snag an epic photo. The point is to be immersed in travel, to broaden your medical skills and to bring your camera along for the adventure. Find out what international locum tenens opportunities are available now with the click of an orange button below.

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Topics: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Northern Territory, Milford Sound, photographer, dark sky reserve, devils marbles, granville street, vancouver, aoraki, winter, bucket list, photography, alice springs, fiordland national park, star photography

If it feels as if you've been here before, it was probably in your dreams

Posted by Saralynn White

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How about a pilgrimage to Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, eh

The famously friendly locals here are fast-talkers who speak with a decidedly Irish twist (likely the strongest brogue you’ll hear west of Galway). Their Irish, English, French and Aboriginal backgrounds mean they also speak a multitude of dialects and have a lot of home-grown sayings (there’s even a dictionary). Speaking "Newfinese" or "Newfie Slang" isn’t a requirement when you come here, but the slanguage is guaranteed to entertain you.
Now pass me the jim, over dere on the slang (pass me that, it's on the counter).

St. John's is the capital of this province and it's the perfect combination of big-city luxury and small-town charm
(think smaller, yet earthier San Francisco). As the oldest and most easterly city in North America you'll find everything from dug-up sod houses of the Vikings to George Street, where you can get "jiggy" with the most pubs per square foot in North America. It's truly where heritage meets modern day.

St. John's in NewfoundlandCape Bona Vista, Newfoundland










The fine fare has an accent all its own, too; despite a ban on fishing cod in the 90s, the white fish still reigns supreme in cuisine. Make a meal of baked cod au gratin or cod fish and chips; try some cod tongues with scrunchions (small pieces of pork rind or fatback fried until crispy); and don’t forget a grand finale of cloudberry pie — it's as Newfoundland as it gets.

Out and about, or should we say “aboot”, you’ll discover Signal Hill with its crowning Cabot Tower. This castle-like structure sits next to the spot where Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message in 1901. Outside of town, follow the path of Vikings who sailed here centuries ago, leaving stories and ancient artifacts at L’Anse aux Meadows (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). The winding road from L'Anse-au-Clair to Red Bay takes you past dwarf conifers and salmon-rich rivers, aboriginal burial mounds and hulking boulders. 

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For decades, people have journeyed to this coast to witness its bounty of whales, dolphins and seabirds including hundreds of thousands of puffins. Then there are the icebergs that float down from Greenland. In fact, the frozen behemoths have earned this stretch of the Atlantic the moniker, Iceberg Alley. And yes, it was 350 miles/563 kilometers off the coast of Newfoundland where the infamous Titanic sank.

The fantastical shapes of the bergs are the result of the force of waves, wind and the melt. Huge portions of the ice "calve" or break away at the water’s edge with a booming crash and range from flat, stadium-sized slabs to “growlers” (named for the sound they make spinning in the water), which are about the size of a grand piano. Edgar Allan Poe described them as "...stupendous ramparts of ice, towering away into the sky, and looking like the walls of the universe." There's an incredible video of icebergs on their site - don't miss it.

You may not wax poetic about the bergs or the place when you visit this province, but we’re pretty certain you’ll be happy just going with the “floe.” Watch this excellent tourism ad and see for yourself.




Topics: Canada, Newfoundland, Labrador, Iceberg Alley, St. John's Canada

Locums for a Small World Blog

Twice a month, our inquisitive locum tenens community asks us to tackle topics ranging from cuisine and culture to recreation and entertainment. We also include great storytelling from our doctors. Have a topic you’d like to read about? Let us know.

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