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:


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. 


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.


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.


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.
Search international jobs

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

Don't let state licensing bring you down

Posted by Everett Fitch

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.

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.

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

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