Locums for a Small World Blog

8 holiday survival tips for every locum traveler AKA how to stay sane in a heavy travel season

Posted by Everett Fitch
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The nature of locum tenens makes frequent fliers of us all, but sometimes the holidays have a way of making travel less than joyful. Stick to these tips and you just might stay sane.


1.
Get a few extra workouts in before you travel. It can help you adjust to being sedentary on the long flights. It can also boost your immune system, help with circulation and aid digestion, but you knew that.

2.
Give yourself plenty of time. You probably know this, too, but the holiday season means more people. Allow for traffic jams and slow-moving security lines as you plan the prerequisite two hours before boarding time.

3.
Taking kids? Prepare them for potential pat downs at security, especially if they haven’t traveled before. On the same token, reassure them that you’ll be okay if you’re pulled aside for a pat down yourself.

4.
 Keep extra essential medication in your carry-on. More people at the airports and the likelihood for delayed or lost luggage are directly related!

5.
Know the 3-1-1 liquids rule? If not, here it is straight from the horse's (TSA's) mouth: "Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces or less per container; must be in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin." Oh, and keep in mind, this rule applies to gifts, too. Jams, jellies, sauces, syrups...yep, they’re all subject.

6.
Take some snacks and water. There’s nothing worse than being cranky at an airport because you’re hungry or dehydrated. Or worse, having cranky-hungry-dehydrated kids.

7.
Be wise about what you take with you. Although gifts and bulkier winter clothes are a must during the season, you'll avoid pricey baggage fees if you take time to ship the big gift, or if you leave behind the big coat. Plus, lugging heavy jackets and bags through crowds might make you less jolly.

8.
Last but not least, always be courteous to airline workers and fellow travelers. You don’t have to kill them with kindness, but don’t be the bad-tempered traveler either.

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Remember, some of the best holiday stories often come from the worst holiday experiences. The extremely chummy (AKA talkative) person next to you on the plane; the sprint to a missed connection; the gift you wrapped beautifully only to have security tear into. They all make for great stories, but hey, that’s what holiday traditions are all about, right?

Topics: Everett Fitch, holidays, holiday travel, TSA, travel tips, frequent traveler, 3-1-1 Rule

Don't let state licensing bring you down

Posted by Everett Fitch

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Getting a state license can be quite the process. It’s not only a lot of stress. It’s a lot of time, too. Depending on the state, you’re looking at anywhere from a few weeks to a few months until you’ve got your hands on one. You’re also looking at a few weeks or a few months until you can practice medicine where you want. Locum tenens doctors face this concern quite a bit.

Obtaining a brand-new license and memorization of each respective state’s guidelines takes a lot of effort. With all the hurdles and hard-fought processes that come along with securing a state license you might be stuck with no license or even a lapsed license. What’s the fallout? You’re missing out on awesome locum tenens opportunities left and right.

The bottom line, time is precious—especially in a doctor’s world. In the grand scope, patient care should be paramount instead of processes. Sometimes the latter gets in the way of performing the former. If you spent less time securing and/or renewing licenses (and all the rigmarole that goes along with it) then a lot more of your time could be spent enjoying the practice of medicine.

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Let’s say there’s an opportunity in California you really want three or four months from now. You might think that license will take a minimum of six months. All sorts of i’s need to be dotted and t’s crossed. Sounds nearly impossible, right? Wrong. We've helped motivated physicians license in California in as little as three or four months and take the opportunity they wanted, when they wanted.

Other states like Oregon and Texas require even more in-depth information. If you have a diverse practice history then requesting and obtaining those verifications can be very time consuming. Still, we're known to cut time and costs so you can focus on what's really important. In other words, keep working your current position while we help you obtain a license for your next positionand your next and your next and your next.

You’ve probably heard us mention over the years that, “For a short commitment, we’ll walk you through the licensing process and even pay the costs.” That’s the truth. We handle it all so you can enjoy practicing in the present; so you don’t have to be burdened by the worry of state licensure.

Are you currently working on the West Coast and want to obtain a license on the East? We can make that happen. Again, for a short commitment, we’ll license you anywhere.

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Let us help you practice not only when you want but where you want, too. Don’t limit yourself. Take that opportunity in Alaska or Hawaii you were really excited for. We’re experts in state licensing. In fact, we have a resident expert on hand any time you’re in need. Have state-by-state questions? Click here to meet Andrea. Then ask her a question by phone, email or the click of a button (right next to her bio). She knows everything there is to know about what it takes to get a licensein all 50 states. She'll check to see that you meet the minimum requirements for licensure upfront, pre-populate your paperwork, send out all verifications and follow up with the board and verifying entities to ensure your license is secured as quickly as possible.

Want more information on what it takes to locum stateside? Visit our Ask an Expert page, too.

Topics: Everett Fitch, state licensing, doctor, physician, MD, DO, state license, license

Locum like never before with our better, faster, stronger website

Posted by Everett Fitch

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This post might not seem nearly as exciting as our other ones. We won’t be talking about awe-inspiring terrain in New Zealand, or brilliant expeditions in Alaska. But, we assure you, this post is very exciting.

Why?

Well, we’ve launched three new features on our website you’ll be very excited to hear about. And we never officially blog-announced our website when we launched it earlier this year, either. Don’t worry, nothing’s changed in our philosophy. We’ve always strived to bring you the best locum tenens experience every step of the way—and we’ll continue to do so. We’ve only improved the way you experience us. We’ve made our site better, faster, stronger and prettier than ever before.

These updates will not only help guide you more seamlessly in learning about locum tenens; they’ll help you on your way to finding your next overseas or close-to-home assignment better than ever. We officially welcome you to our fresh new look! Without further ado, here are our new features, too:

SEARCH BY STATE IN STYLE


Just like our international destinations, we’ve now added beautiful pictures and awesome info for every state in the union. In other words, you’re now able to search the United States for a locum tenens opportunity in style. Find a stateside opening now.

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ASK US A QUESTION ANY TIME, ANYWHERE


Time is precious. Sometimes you don’t have time to pick up the phone. Sometimes you don’t have time to even open your email. That’s why we’ve introduced our Ask a Question feature. Do you have questions about what it takes to locum overseas or stateside? We can help—any time. Just click the Ask a Question button on almost every page of this site and ask away.

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EXPLORE OUR SITE EFFORTLESSLY FROM YOUR TABLET OR PHONE


Our website now adapts to fit whatever device/screen you’re using. There’s a technical term for this. It’s called responsive design. All you need to know is this gives you the easiest, best experience possible while searching our site. Go on, pick up your tablet or phone and type in our web address.

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It all sounds easy and painless, right? Just the way we like it. Remember, there’s a world of adventure and exciting medicine out there. You’re welcome to find it on our new and improved gmedical.com.


Topics: Everett Fitch, Global Medical Staffing, New Website, New Features, Search Jobs, Ask a Question, Mobile Responsive

Only one word can describe New Zealand and that word is...

Posted by Everett Fitch

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Coast to coast, north to south, island to island, New Zealand has it made. Somehow, perfect boundaries have been set; the most ideal lines have been drawn. Everyone who lives here has an ocean of fascinating country and culture that’s unparalleled. So many people call this brilliant land home yet so many don’t get to explore its vast expanse unflinchingly. Shocking, I know. Still, many more than that have never visited at all. They’ve never stepped foot on this volcanic, beachy, glacial, rainforesty country. It’s time that changes. It’s time for those who haven’t been to make their way. In fact, to do whatever they must to make their way. Unspoiled scenery is waiting. Right along with those “this is the way life should be” epiphanies.

Few words exist to describe New Zealand with due respect. I can only think of one off the top of my head that describes it perfectly. It’s a word that won’t leave your mind while you’re here. Literally—not a peep will leave your lips. Because you’ll be so stricken with awe, so overcome by rolling waves of soft earth, so exhausted mentally from the idyllic explosion happening before your eyes that you won’t be able to garner enough mental capacity to make those choice syllables move from mind to mouth. New Zealand is simply and utterly…surreal. And here’s the most surreal out of all the surreal in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Milford Sound (South Island)


Lauded short-story writer and novelist Rudyard Kipling stepped foot here once or twice. Every time he left, he swore Milford Sound worthy of being “the eighth wonder of the world.” Not much more can be said. Take his word for it.

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Rotorua (North Island)

Don’t miss Rotorua. Here, the earth churns and the air’s thick with mist. And all around are green pools, hot springs and mud pools with vast mountains vaulting in the distance. One of our doctors—Catherine Dalton, MD, went and was paralyzed with awe: "The land was strangely beautiful and the people were beautifully strange. Geysers erupted all over, and the Maori danced their traditional dances."

Franz Josef Glacier (South Island)


After a hike, heli-hike, or ice-climb on the famed Franz Josef, take a relaxing dip in the Glacier Hot Pools. They’re located in a lush rainforest not far off. Legend has it these hot waters are fed by the frozen tears of a goddess pining for her lost love. (We didn't say it wasn't gushy, we just said it was a legend.)

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Tongariro National Park (North Island)


Three volcanoes call this land home: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe (you might recognize this fiery mountain as Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings) and Ruapehu (AKA Mordor). Emerald lakes and alpine meadows make this place pretty. Steaming craters and old lava flows make it revered. Tramp the Tongariro Alpine Crossing—they say it’s the best one-day hike you’ll ever take.

Catlins (South Island)


The Catlins—an area on the southeastern coast of the South Island—is home to some rare animals. From the shy Hector's dolphin to the very un-shy Hooker's sea lion; you're sure to see some local fauna. This sweep of land is also home to endless beaches, coastal cliffs, rainforests, coves, waterfalls and sprawling farmland. It’s often sold as “off the beaten track” and it’s true. Lucky for you, many people overlook the beauty of this place.

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Hot Water Beach (North Island)


William LeMaire, MD—who’s worked for us in New Zealand—sums it up perfectly: “The best part of Coromandel Peninsula was Hot Water Beach. With a borrowed shovel, we dug a hole in the sand at low tide...the hole then fills up with hot water (from underground geothermal activity) and coupled with the cold ocean water, it becomes a great natural spa to soak in and enjoy a glass of wine as you watch the tide roll in again.” Well, that sounds nothing short of lovely.

Stewart Island/Rakiura


Just south of the South Island, Stewart is the third largest island of New Zealand. Its far-south position makes it an ideal spot for seeing the Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights). In fact, the island's Maori name—Rakiura—means "the Land of Glowing Skies." People flock here for many reasons. Not just for the above-mentioned breathtaking view. This island, over 85% of which is a national park, gives prime glimpses of rare birds like the kiwi.

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Rangitoto (North Island)


You’ll remember the sight of Rangitoto Island—a volcanic cone just off Auckland shores—for years to come. At sunset everything’s falling. Like Rangitoto is pulling down the sun itself. The surrounding sky looks like a wispy porcelain map beautifully stained with dark orange flames. That’s just the view from Auckland. Wait ‘til you get on the island. The view from there is just as magnificent. Plus, there are black lava caves to explore and much hiking to be done. And it’s all in the midst of the world’s largest pohutukawa forest.

Summer is drawing to a close in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are getting shorter...


That heralds more light for New Zealanders at the other end of the world. Say yes to an invincible, unending summer in the Land of the Long White Cloud with a locum tenens assignment. Learn more about our current opportunities for physicians. Meanwhile, watch this short video that wraps New Zealand up in a shiny, impeccable package.

Topics: Everett Fitch, North Island, South Island, Franz Josef, Tongariro, Catlins, Hot Water Beach, Stewart Island, Rangitoto, New Zealand, Milford Sound, Rotorua

So long "Lower 48" and thanks for all the traffic jams

Posted by Everett Fitch

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Alaska’s unique. It’s also intimidating, eclectic, striking, gorgeous and awesome (in the truest sense of the word). And not solely for its landscape—for its people, too. I’m sure it’s because of the spoils travelers come and locals stay. You’ll find all stripes here. Drifters, dreamers and pioneers populate this wild unknown. Why? They’ve been drawn to these shores where nature and culture are inextricable. They’ve found miles of labyrinthine forest and tundra; golden towns filled with onion-domed churches; groves marked with totem poles; and swells of wildlife dancing around boomtown architecture. Imagine…all that’s just a taste of this vast expanse. Actually, to be exact, that’s just a taste of some 663,268 square miles. Jump-start your locum tenens adventure in the Last Frontier with this region-by-region, life-list-worthy guide.

FAR NORTH

If you want to truly go north, go to Barrow. It’s at the very height of the US, and it’s worth the trek. Locals and tourists love this place for many reasons—the open space, the fresh air, the revealing land and sky. Thousands of nameless lakes, rivers and streams punctuate this flatland; a land that strays unabashedly for about…ever. And a near-infinite horizon softly crashes against the Chukchi Sea just north.

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Come see the midnight sun (which doesn’t set from May to early August); stand at the top of the world at Point Barrow; learn the ways of the largest Inupiat community in Alaska at their Heritage Center; sight polar bears and snowy owls on a tundra tour; witness the most magnificent showing of the northern lights; or dine on muktuk (whale blubber which is boiled, pickled or eaten raw with hot mustard) at the Nalukataq Festival. Whatever you come for, you’ll leave with plenty of bragging rights.

INTERIOR

Roughly the size of Vermont, Denali National Park is impressive. Or at least I’m impressed. How could you not be? Welcome to a six-million acre wild land located 120 miles south of Fairbanks. There’s one single artery of a road that runs through this park. It provides access to trails which provides access to lakes, too-tall mountains and teeming wildlife. Most come to see the continent’s highest peak, Denali (AKA Mount McKinley). Others come to spot the “Big Five”: moose, caribou, Dall sheep, grizzlies and wolves. Still others come simply to experience that big, bright diamond canopy. I’m talking about the starry sky, of course; it’s something else in Denali National Park.

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The best way to get here depends on where you’re coming from. My recommendation, whether it’s from Fairbanks or Anchorage, take the train. Without a doubt, the most unimaginable views will invade your thoughts for life.

SOUTHWEST

15 fire-capped mountains and about 2,000 protected brown bears embody Katmai National Park. Sure, there’s tons of wildlife and trees and hills and prairies here but if you’re going to bottle these boundaries up in one sentence then read above.

Over a century ago a volcano—Novarupta—erupted here with a force ten times stronger than that of Mount St. Helens' 1980 blast. It sparked worldwide attention. In fact, it sparked the creation of the park. Ash and smoke filled the sky. Temperatures cooled. And suddenly day became night for Kodiak Island off Southwest Alaskan shores.

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You’d think there’d still be nothing but scorched land here. Instead the earth is verdant as ever, glass rivers flow, and sapphire lakes make polka-dotted patterns from a birds-eye view. Come hike or kayak. Fish or sightsee. Or relax in a rustic lodge while the world of Katmai revolves around you. Perhaps one remnant most noticeable from the 1912 eruption is the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. It’s almost if the earth decided to rip itself apart then—in mid-apocalypse—changed its mind. Part of the adventure is getting here: go by jet, floatplane or boat. Here’s how.

SOUTHCENTRAL

Kenai Fjords National Park is somewhere you shouldn’t pass up. I know what you’re thinking. This is the third national park I’ve mentioned. No, I’m not taking you on a national-park only tour. It’s just that all of Alaska is polished with glaciers, mountains and forests so brilliant there was nothing else to do but bestow national park status on most of it.

Ever see a picture of a lone kayaker with her color-splashed steed set against the backdrop of a massive, bleached glacier? It was probably taken here. I imagine this is what most people think when they dream of Alaska. Bald eagles swoop and hunt. Mountain goats climb. Coyotes skulk. Black bears dominate. Killer whales breach. And a load of other marine mammals sunbathe on ice sheets then plunge the depths for food. That’s only naming a few. Some noteworthy things to do: hike the Harding Icefield Trail, kayak Resurrection Bay, take a ranger-led walk around Exit Glacier, or experience a full-day marine tour of the park.

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INSIDE PASSAGE


This portion of Alaska is bountiful. It wasn’t an easy task to share only one place here. I mean, when you’ve got Ketchikan with its waterfront cafes and mist-filled fjords; Sitka with its Russian architecture and unbelievable views of Mount Edgecumbe; and Wrangell with the wild Stikine River and Chief Shakes Island (a totem-pole-filled beauty of an islet), how do you decide?

I came to a conclusion…Juneau. It has a few things going for it. By mere dint of being the capital, it’s travel-worthy. It has awe-inducing scenery, surprisingly interesting city tours of museums and historic sites, and precedent-setting seafood. Perhaps the most important of all, it’s the gateway to so many expeditions. Like 96-mile-long Admiralty Island where wildlife is packed shoulder to shoulder. (Strange, not a lot of people think of island getaways when they think of the Last Frontier.)

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Juneau may not have a drive-in theater but it’s got something even better, a drive-in ice floe. 13 miles from downtown is Mendenhall Glacier. Arrive by your own car or by tour bus. Actually, take the latter. It's best you’re not at the wheel when your jaw inevitably hits the floor. Go to famous Glacier Bay National Park while you’re here, too. Like most of Alaska’s parks, you’ll be flying or boating in.

THIS LAST FRONTIER, THIS GREAT LAND, THIS REBELLIOUS MASS SO DIFFERENT FROM THE “LOWER 48” HAS A MYRIAD OF ADVENTURES...

Many travelers come yet so many don’t know the best ones to take. Most don’t even know the best mode of transportation. How do you choose between car, floatplane, snowmobile (“snow machine” as Alaskans call them), four-wheeler or foot? The truth is some journeys you just don’t—because some journeys might require all. One thing is certain: this place is epic and no one stretch of it supersedes the other. So soak it in. Everything. From the Far North down to the Inside Passage, Alaska is a dream of a state where skyscraping peaks meet wild rainforests and an orb-stretching sky swallows you whole.

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Combine your penchant for adventure with your love for medicine. We have positions all over Alaska that give you the chance to share your medical expertise with salt-of-the-earth communities all while you partake in allor at least someof the above. Take a look at our growing locum tenens opportunities for physicians in the Last Frontier.

Topics: Everett Fitch, Alaska, Great Land, Barrow, Denali, Katmai, Glacier Bay, Last Frontier, muktuk, Mendenhall Glacier, Kenai Fjords

Texas is the reason to locum

Posted by Everett Fitch

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When you hear “Texas”—if you’re an out-of-towner—you probably think Old West and big sky, right? You wouldn’t be wrong to think that. That stuff still reigns. Rodeos are alive and museums, well, a lot are dedicated to legendary outlaws. Plus, no other place in the U.S. has as pretty a sky as ol’ Texas (arguably). It’s a wild blue yonder by day and a big-and-bright diamond canopy by night. Some things never change.

But remember, this state is big and dynamic. The cities here are always redefining themselves. Austin is tramping ever-forward as the go-to for music. Houston is more cultural and culinary than ever. And gone is the sports-only reputation of Dallas. Welcome to an architectural wonderland known for thrilling nightlife. If any of these claims floor you, keep reading. If any of these claims don’t floor you, still, keep reading. You have much to learn about this infinitely eclectic state. What follows is a painstaking (yet not exhaustive) list of the best eateries, best bars and best pastimes in the biggest Texas cities.

First up, Austin

Best Eatery: Looking for a Tex-Mex meal? Austin’s got the answer. Head to North Loop Boulevard. Keep driving until you spot a hacienda-like building. You know you've made it when you see elaborate and endearingly clunky wooden doors. Welcome to Fonda San Miguel—a 40-year-old restaurant replete with orange walls and bona fide art. It might not look like much. But believe me, it’s much. Even the complimentary chips and salsa are criminally good.

Want a real treat? Try the fall-off-the-bone cochinita pibil (pork baked in a banana leaf). Oh, and here's something noteworthy, most every vegetable and fruit is plucked fresh from the restaurant’s own garden. And every last meal on the menu has its roots in seven different regions of Mexico. This place sings authenticity, mi amigos.

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Best Bar:
Oh man, this was a tough one. The results are in…Whip In takes the cake. Or the beer? Cocktail? I don’t know. Either way, no trip to Austin is complete without a stop in this fine establishment. A lot’s on tap here. A lot’s also in bottle-form. In fact, this little pub is one of the best bottle shops in town (meaning it has a fine selection). Plus, it’s won awards for its red-blooded house brew. Definitely stop by this place for good music and malt.

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Best Pastime: It’s obvious, isn’t it? Austin is home to music. Everyone knows that. You’ve got Carnaval Brasileiro with samba and spirited people. Then there’s Rodeo Austin with country and culture. And who can forget SXSW? This is where filmmakers frequent and musicians mingle—and perform.

Here are more tremendous Austin-based fests: Urban Music Festival, Louisiana Swamp Thing and Crawfish Festival, Art City Austin, Old Settlers Music Festival, Austin Reggae Festival, Austin Psych Fest, Old Pecan Street Spring Arts Festival, Pachanga Music Fest, Austin City Limits Music Festival, and the Fun Fun Fun Fest. Starting to get the picture? Head here for all-things music.

Due north, Dallas

Best Eatery: It’s hard to dub just one Dallas restaurant the cream of the crop. You’re probably thinking it has to be a steakhouse. That’s too easy. No, we need something shocking yet traditional; something classically Texas with a twist. That place is CBD (“Central Business District”) Provisions. This modern brasserie is a must-eatery. With a commitment to local produce and time-honored recipes, this relatively new establishment has already made a name for itself. Not to mention its design and look is something of pure beauty. Get here, try the 18-hour pork shoulder, butcher’s steak or grass-fed beef burger. Or, if you're vegetarian, grab the house-made strozzapreti. You won’t regret it.

Best Bar: You might recognize this bar’s namesake if you’re an enthusiast of once-banned literature. Its appellation comes from the infamous novel, The Ginger Man. The book tells the tale of a young American living in Ireland, and all the misadventures he gets into. Apparently, the (previous) owner lived a similar life for some time. That’s neither here nor there. Want to know the ins and outs, the comings and goings of this watering hole? It has an endless amount of events—from Irish-themed to Belgian-themed, and of course, Texas-themed. You better believe it has the very same in beer. And cider. And wine. And cocktails. Check out The Ginger Man for a good time. It’s a community favorite.

Best Pastime: Okay, so this is slightly north of Dallas but it’s for good reason. No trip to this portion of Texas is complete without a fair and/or rodeo. And in this case it’s both. Mark your calendars. From August 15-23 is the North Texas Fair and Rodeo in Denton. It includes rodeo clowns and queens, bull riding, authentic country music and barrel racing. That’s just a taste. Carnival rides, cook-offs, livestock shows and the most delicious fried food you’ll ever have is all right here, too. Travel to Denton for a true Texas experience. It’s worth it.

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Last stop, Houston

Best Eatery:
It’s not uncommon to find a line out the door at Gatlin’s BBQ in the Heights area of Houston. There's no doubt about it, it’s because of the ribs. You’ll find two kinds here: meaty baby back and rich St. Louis-style. I know what you’re thinking. All this time and I’m barely getting to the best barbecue joint in Texas. It’s for good reason. Save the best for last. You absolutely can’t leave here without trying a pork slider complete with a side of ranch-style beans. The menu’s simple but the food is intricate.

Best Bar:
Mongoose vs. Cobra. No, I’m not asking you who would win. I’m stating a fact. Mongoose vs. Cobra is hands down one of the best bars. It was once a single-family home, next a roller skating rink, then a grocery store, an auto repair shop, a printing company, a post office branch, and now a respectable pub. (That's certainly a storied past.) Over 40 delicious craft brews and interesting cocktails make up this establishment’s personality. Some describe it as Brooklyn-esque. I say it’s Texas all its own.

Best Pastime: Let’s be honest, it gets hot in Texas. That calls for a cool-down. Time to hit up the local swimming holes! Every Houstonite knows about Lake Conroe. It has lots of beach and greener-than-green trees but that barely begins to describe the frills this place showcases.

There’s also Clear Lake with the best boating and fishing and Lake Houston with cool water, lots of coastline and nature trails. Those are the favorites. They all have stunning views. They all have relaxation. And most importantly they all have a bit of solitude.

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If you haven’t caught the message...

Texas is not a state to pass up. And not solely for these reasons. I could write a near-infinite list detailing a slew of golden experiences. That wouldn’t be fun though. It’s better to find out firsthand. Fortunately, we have locum tenens opportunities for doctors throughout the Lone Star State. You're welcome to find out more here.

In the meantime, here’s some inspiration.

Topics: Everett Fitch, Texas, Austin, Dallas, Houston, SXSW, Mongoose vs. Cobra, Tex-Mex, The Ginger Man, Gatlin's BBQ

Locum in the land of giants: Or, of mystical coast and titanic trees

Posted by Everett Fitch

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We all remember road trips as kids. Some of us grew up in wood-bodied station wagons and RVs traveling coast to coast in iconic, national-park America. From Yellowstone on the West to Acadia on the East, there was nary a soul who didn’t venture to at least one of the greats.

Still, it’s hard to make it to every last park. The few that I missed out on growing up were the grand and glorious national and state parks dedicated to the California redwoods. I simply didn’t get the chance…until recently.

Before I get to these goliaths let me impress upon you the beauty of the road trip itself. At some point in your life, it’s a must to head down this stretch of California coast. In fact, go out of your way to make this happen. Why? Well, let me paint the picture. There are endless streams of clouds covering the sea. Underneath those big whites are cliffs and bridges and mountains and beaches. And while you’re barreling down that quintessential U.S. Highway 101, those very same clouds make it look like you’re on top of the world. Believe me, other motorists are just as mesmerized.

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Couple that view with this one: huge rocks jut out of the Pacific, up into the cloud lining, just a few hundred yards off. Your eyes focus on the sea and you almost forget why you’re even there. That is, until your gaze meets the massive beasts of beauty rolling up the horizon. That’s right, here come the redwoods.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
(if you’re heading north-south) will be your first taste—and arguably the most magnificent. The park's namesake comes from the gritty explorer, Jedediah Strong Smith who was the first man of European descent to explore inland northern California. His two-year trapping expedition in the early 1800s paved a dogged trail. He journeyed from the Great Salt Lake in Utah to the San Bernardino Mountains in California on through to the coastal belt. The redwood world he saw was much different: more filled with undergrowth, and more importantly, packed tight with those too-big trees.

Yet after years this stretch of forest is still wall-to-wall with redwoods. And just the perfect amount of sunlight finds its way through to the grove floor. The best way to experience this tremendous bit of earth is on the Boy Scout Tree Trail. It's one of the few trails in the park that gives you a first-hand glimpse into the interior redwoods.

Not up for hiking? Take a scenic drive along Howland Hill Road. This dirt thoroughfare is one of the finest redwood drives in all of California, hands down. It's a great avenue for some of the best camping sites in ol’ Jed Smith, too. Word to the wise, you should head for campsites 47 through 58—they’re surrounded by old-growth redwoods, and skirted with a nothing-but-serene river.

South, you’ll find Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. This is the only redwood park perched on a high coastal hillside. That means no lowland giants grow here. That also means some dramatic and extraordinary groves do grow here. When summer fog hits that famous west-facing hillside these herculean woods are in heaven—literally. The higher up the bigger they grow. Here, high-reaching slopes equal more life-giving fog. Plus, there’s less salt (redwoods grow at full potential with less spray-back from the ocean).

redwoodscalifornia rhododendrons

Have you ever seen a photo of mist-filled redwoods surrounded by pink flowers? It was probably taken here. Undergrowth gets big and bold just like the trees. And rhododendrons (those pink flowers) spread like wildfire.

Even though tourists and truckers in sedans and semis roar past this most picturesque union of redwoods, you can still sink your way into solitude along Damnation Creek Trail. It begins with giant, salt-air bleached redwoods; crests with wide-open spruce and huckleberry trees; and ends with bluff-top views of the Pacific. You can just taste that ocean air, can’t you?

Next stop (skipping some state parks) is the Redwood National Park. This stretch of land’s a bit different than the rest. Not as much old growth. That’s because it wasn’t established until the 1960s. By then several housing booms occurred and—by effect—logging took its toll. Fortunately, state parks dodged most of that. Their land was protected at least two decades before.

No matter what, this national park is a can’t-miss. In the 60s, it held the first world record for tallest tree (368 feet/112 meters tall). That actually helped spark the creation of the park. Then it lost the record. Then it won it back again—in 2006 to be exact. That year the towering tree “Hyperion” was knighted. It stands at 379 feet/116 meters tall, nearly twice the size of the Statue of Liberty (minus the foundation). Rumor has it some locals can show you the way to this leviathan but its location is not openly publicized due to conservation efforts.

Luckily, foot and car traffic is sparse in Redwood National Park. Not because there are less frequenters but because it’s much more remote than its state-owned counterparts. If you’re up for a summer-themed, secluded hike there's no better place than the Emerald Ridge and Tall Trees Trail. It includes a few miles along gravelly stream bed crowned with an open-air perspective of monster redwoods. This section of forest shows you how big these trees really can grow. Plus, a cool California breeze beats on your back every last step through this unconfined grove. This place is the stuff of dreams.

redwoods hike

elk redwoods

I can't stress enough how spectacular this whole 470-mile (750-km) redwood-drenched land is. Well, maybe I can. Remember when you were young and you saw the ocean for the first time? It was bigger than you could’ve imagined, right? These national and state parks in California stir the very same sentiment. There’s nothing like hiking the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Nature Trail at full morning mist, or catching the energy of the Trillium Falls Trail all while maroon-stained monoliths vault over you. These parks truly place the beauty of the world in perspective.

If you’re wondering the difference between the trees in these parks and the ones in Sequoia National Forest, let me tell you. The coastal redwood is much taller and thinner than its inland cousins. The giant sequoias—on the other hand—are found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and are heavier, wider and with thicker bark. There you have it. If you want to learn more about the differences, click here.

Oh, and please remember these trees are fewer in number than ever. Do your very best to value park guidelines. Not only for future generations but also out of respect for the permanent residents. True, animals of all stripes roam these parts. Deer, gray squirrels, raccoons, redwood chipmunks, bears and mountain lions are among the mammal dwellers. Plus, a slew of birds (Steller's jay, American dippers, thrushes, woodpecker, kingfisher, owl and osprey to name a few) populate on high.

Last, every doctor with an all-encompassing appetite should consider a locum tenens assignment in the Pacific Northwest. It has coast. It has mountains. It has amusement parks. It has giant cities known the world over. Authors, artists and filmmakers have painted invincible scenes of this land. And we have jobs all over. From Washington to Oregon to northern California, Check them out here. The wineries smooth over. The waves break. The redwoods stand tall. This sweep of land is brilliant, my friends.

Not convinced yet? I'll just leave this video here.

Topics: Everett Fitch, Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Howland Hill Road, Hyperion, Pacific Northwest, Northern California

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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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