Locums for a Small World Blog

Q&A: Taking a yearlong locums assignment in New Zealand

Posted by Kari Redfield



There’s a lot to consider before packing up and moving overseas for a year. In the Q&A below, child & adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Jason Lambrese shares how he made a one-year locums assignment in New Zealand work for him and his husband as well as how happy he is that he could make this experience of a lifetime happen.

What drew you to New Zealand?
“I did six years of residency and fellowship, and the idea of taking an international locum tenens assignment as kind of a gap year between my fellowship and a more permanent job was really appealing. It was something a lot of people talked about. Everyone seemed to know a doctor who had done it.”

So, you went to New Zealand after your fellowship and before taking a permanent position?
“Yes. I saw it sort of like this fun year in between, and the timing was right. We were ready to leave Boston anyway, so we had sold our condo and packed.”

How hard was it to navigate the visa, credentialing, and licensing process?
“GMS took care of all of those logistics and other ones too. That was huge. That’s the benefit of going through a locum tenens company versus trying to get a job overseas on your own. I couldn’t have navigated the immigration website. With moving across the world, there are so many things you have to deal with and think about, but GMS took care of so much of it.”

Learn more about how Global Medical Staffing takes care of visas, licensing and credentialing.



What were some of the highlights of your year in New Zealand?
“The people are so nice. The place is beautiful. There’s so much stuff to do. There’s such a variety of landscapes and activities. We did so much travel using my six weeks of PTO, and I love that I didn’t have to work the weekends, and we could travel then too. We could put the real life stuff on hold because there really wasn’t much real life stuff to do out there except work and pay a few bills. I had that freedom to adventure and to explore.”

What was the biggest challenge?
“Being so far away from home. We didn’t get any visitors over the year because people need a lot of time, money, and stamina to make the flight. We thought about getting a two-bedroom apartment because everyone was so excited. I’m glad we didn’t because the spare room never would’ve gotten used. Timing calls to communicate back home was also tough.”

What was it like practicing medicine in a country with universal health care?
“I liked the work and being in a community clinic and that we were serving a more marginalized population. I feel like I was doing more good than maybe I would have otherwise and that specialized skills are used more effectively.”


What did you like the most?
“The people were great, and the place was beautiful! Learning a new way to practice medicine was fascinating. That experience of being in a whole new place and a whole new system — I needed that change.”

What would you say to other doctors considering international locum tenens?
“Go! For many of us, it might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

See also:

Learn more about international locums from doctors who have gone.
How to rent out your home while on international locums.
How locums docs get paid.

Want to start your own international locum tenens adventure? Check out our current opportunities by clicking the button below, or give us a call at 1.800.760.3174. We're always here to answer questions.
Search international jobs

Read More

Physicians from Global Medical Staffing make a difference in Haiti

Posted by Kari Redfield


This past November, Dr. Maria Chansky went on her fourth medical mission, this time to Haiti. The Haiti mission was made possible through a generous grant from the Making a Difference Foundation in partnership with International Medical Relief, enabling five physicians and several support staff members to travel to and within Haiti for eight days, giving of their time and skills to those most in need of medical and dental care.

Every day, the team set up at a different site in order to treat as many people as possible.

“We had to figure out how to use the site effectively, had to figure out where the dentists were going to be, where the primary care providers were going to be, where the patient education was going to be, where the pharmacy was going to be,” says Dr. Chansky. “Really, we had to work together to organize, lay things out, and move benches and equipment.”

Dr. Chansky says the whole team stepped up wonderfully, making the logistics and delivery of care a smooth process that benefited a lot of Haitians.

Life in Haiti
Even though Dr. Chanksy has seen other places devastated by natural disasters, one thing that struck her about Haiti was how destroyed parts of it still are from the 2010 earthquake.

“There are almost like two Haitis,” says Dr. Chansky. “There’s the group of people in Haiti who still have places to live and still have work, but then there are people whose neighborhoods were completely destroyed by the earthquake — and they’re living in refugee camps, and their neighborhoods haven’t been rebuilt. It’s been eight years and they still have nothing. It seems like the people who were really devastated by the earthquake, their situation hasn’t really changed or improved much, which is heartbreaking.”

Dr. Chansky adds: “The incredibly huge line of patients who were waiting to be seen spoke to the importance of what we were doing.”

Putting medical skills to good use
Dr. Chansky says that she is drawn to these missions in order to give back to those most in need.

“I like working with the disenfranchised populations, learning about them, seeing what life is like in different places, and serving people who need my services. I really enjoy working with people and getting to know them and doing something that hopefully makes a difference in their life,” she explains. “From a purely selfish point of view, I get to travel to places that perhaps I wouldn’t go to otherwise and meet people who I wouldn’t otherwise meet, and I really enjoy that.”

This desire to help those who most need medical care is part of why Dr. Chansky has worked as a locum tenens physician at various times throughout her 21-year career. She worked three years in New Zealand, plus a couple years of full-time locum tenens in the continental U.S.

“The clinics that are hiring locums are the clinics that are probably in the greatest need, and so I’m filling the role and providing a service,” she explains.

She also likes locums because she enjoys traveling and meeting people. The third thing she likes about locum tenens is the flexibility.

“I have a lot of flexibility as far as where I am and when, so if my husband’s parents or my parents had some kind of emergency I could get locums work close to them,” Dr. Chansky explains.

She says that flexibility also meant that when she was working locums, she could be in a certain place at a certain time of the year to experience something unique to that area — or to take time off for a holiday or family gathering. Locums also allowed her to set her own schedule, decide where she wanted to work, and work fewer hours than a long-term position.

Dr. Chansky says that she encourages other physicians to consider locums if they are looking for more flexibility, travel opportunities, and want to use their medical skills where they are most needed.

She also encourages physicians to sign up for a medical mission to see life through others’ eyes and give back.

Inspired to make a difference through a medical mission? The Making a Difference Foundation partners with world-class nonprofits to provide physicians the opportunity to participate in meaningful medical missions to make a difference around the globe. Visit them to learn more about medical mission opportunities.

Read More

Did you know: You get generous amounts of PTO during international locums

Posted by Kari Redfield

Learn to scuba dive, taste the best food in Tokyo, explore the world’s most famous glowworm caves… It sounds like a trip of the lifetime, doesn’t it? These are how many physicians adventure while on an international locum tenens assignment.

When you take on an assignment in an international location, you not only get immersed in that area’s culture, but you also benefit from their approach to vacation time — which is often very generous. During that PTO, you can explore the beaches right near where you work and live and fly for cheap to other nearby destinations.

Here’s just how much vacation time our physicians typically receive while on assignment: 

Read More

Just the two of us: Finding a recruiter that has your back

Posted by Kari Redfield

Aristotle once said, “Friendship is essentially a partnership.” That can be said of Dr. Ronald Stiller and his physician reps at Global Medical Staffing.

Kipp Robinson, domestic recruiter at Global Medical Staffing, recruited Dr. Stiller by pointing out that Global could pay a lot more than Dr. Stiller’s permanent position, allowing less work and more travel.

“I have two passions in life: medicine and travel,” says Dr. Stiller. “If you put me on a plane and send me somewhere, I’m a pretty happy guy. My ex-wife and I took our kids to China, Australia, Europe, and Cambodia when they were growing up.”

The opportunity came just at the right time in Dr. Stiller’s professional and personal life. He was recently divorced and wanted to travel as much as possible, and Robinson was just the right personality. During that first call, they went on to have a 45-minute conversation. Since then, Robinson and Dr. Stiller have become friends.

“It was purely fortuitous that my call was with Kipp,” Dr. Stiller says. “We hit it off immediately. He’s more than my handler. He became a friend, despite the age and geographical differences.”

Robinson echoes the sentiment: “He’s my 72-year-old friend. I’ve come to him about my professional growth. He’s a father figure because he knows both medicine and hospital administration. He calls things like they are, bringing such honesty to our relationship.”


Choosing the right assignment
Dr. Stiller mostly works a regular shift in Walla Walla, Washington, with some shifts in Spokane, Washington, and occasional shifts elsewhere to help us — and our hospital clients — out.

Dr. Stiller explains why he chose Washington state: “I was born and bred in Boston as an East Coast liberal democrat. I wanted to see something different. I wanted to travel and practice medicine.”

Locums allows exactly that — and more.

The hospitalist shift in Walla Walla, as well as some work in Spokane, felt like a great fit. It was quite different from Dr. Stiller’s East Coast life and his daughter is a medical resident in Seattle, which has allowed him to see her more often.

In addition, Dr. Stiller has always been dedicated to medical missions with Surgical Core International. He’s been all over the world, including Burma, Ethiopia, Bhutan, and Kazakhstan. With his extremely flexible locums schedule, he can continue to go on these trips, where he provides care for those who have received plastic surgery procedures after being born with deformities or having been in accidents.

“Bhutan is in the middle of the Himalayas. It’s exquisite, and a country with limited healthcare resources,” Dr. Stiller explains. “You get even deeper into the culture when do healthcare in a country, and really get to see people dealing with their struggles. For instance, some patients in Bhutan had been mauled by bears, which really put a burden on the family, village, and the person. To be able to be involved in the restoration of that, or a cleft palette, for instance, is rewarding. We get a lot back from the experience.”


Benefits of locums
Dr. Stiller retired from his full-time position the summer after he started with us.

“He’s the poster boy for locums: highly qualified, extremely skilled, and genuine — with excessive training beyond the scope of what he’s doing for us,” Robinson says. “He was the academic attending that taught everyone how to be a doctor, and has been an influential leader for many years at his full-time position, but he’s still humble.”

Dr. Stiller, like most of our domestic physicians, gets paid well, better than a long-term position. For this reason, and because of where he is in his career, Dr. Stiller usually works one seven-days-in-a-row hospitalist shift a month with the rest of the time to travel and pursue other passions.

“He gets to practice medicine where they love him and where they make him feel wanted,” Robinson says. “He’s overqualified as a hospitalist, and there are a couple people living who would not be alive in Walla Walla if Dr. Stiller hadn’t been working. He’s an invaluable member to the team there.”

Dr. Stiller adds, “I have a new family away from home at Walla Walla. I have been able to expand my horizons and meet other people. The locums universe pays well, so lots of doctors do it for the money, but for me, I find that it’s a joyous thing to do.”

Read More

How this hospitalist used locum tenens to experience an adventure of a lifetime

Posted by Kari Redfield


Dr. Raymattie Singh says that when her hospitalist contract was ending in Denver, Colorado, she really began thinking about her life. She was in something of an existential crisis. “I had gotten more and more depressed, and then, incidentally got an email from Global Medical Staffing about practicing medicine in the Pacific Islands. I started reading about GMS and called them.”

Since then, she has taken two locum tenens assignments and plans to keep doing locums instead of signing a long-term contract.

“I worked hard most of my life to attain the dream I was told I had to have, and I did,” she explains. “The five-bedroom house, fancy cars, diamond jewelry... I had it all. But the more things I procured, the more I felt I was missing. I was tired of the agonizing repetition of every day.”

Locums has allowed her to soar. “When I started traveling to strange places while working as a physician, I was unbelievably happy. Creating bonds of lifelong friendships with people from all walks of life rejuvenated my soul.”

Read More

6 ways physicians can reduce burnout

Posted by Kari Redfield


Knowing that physician burnout has increased significantly, locumstory.com recently conducted a survey of more than 3,700 physicians across specialties, work settings, and U.S. regions to better understand physicians’ perspectives about their professions.

Among the findings: 52% of surveyed physicians reported feeling burned out. 74% of physicians reported frequently seeing symptoms of burnout in other physicians.

As compared to the same study conducted in 2016, physicians in 2018 feel less overworked than two years ago. Yet, burnout, depression, and other issues still cause significant issues for more than half of physicians.

From the report:

Read More

Psychiatrist uses locum tenens to help fulfill his mission of serving others

Posted by Kari Redfield

Not all locum tenens physicians work locums full time; some work occasional locums shifts in order to earn extra money, to travel, or, like Dr. Chad Koyanagi, as a way to give back to the community. For psychiatrist Dr. Koyanagi, helping people is his mission, and he uses his expertise, compassion, and valuable skills and training to treat people in Hawaii with severe mental illnesses, including people living on the street.

Dr. Koyanagi works three part-time jobs, plus a locum tenens shift once a month at a hospital in Kona on the island of Hawaii. His locum tenens role fits into his mission of serving others, as he takes on a difficult-to-fill shift, helping people get the right treatment so they’re able to live productive lives.

His main job is for the State of Hawaii Medicaid office. He also works at a private hospital in the psychiatric unit, helping people in all types of severe mental health crises. “Given the right effectiveness of the hospitalization, they would never need to come back to the hospital,” he explains.

He also works with the Institute for Human Services (IHS) to do street medicine outreach to help people with mental illness living on the streets. “There are so many homeless people in paradise,” says Dr. Koyanagi. “Honolulu has the worst homeless problem in the entire nation.”

He says that all his roles work together. “By doing administrative and clinical and advocacy work for this population, I feel like all of the jobs are related and complement each other,” he says. “I have a pretty broad scope of how the system works for some people — and how it doesn’t work for others.”

Read More

Physician chooses Australian locum tenens assignment for the medical experience and the adventure

Posted by Kari Redfield

After Dr. Mike Spertus finished his post-residency fellowship, he applied for an international locum tenens position and is now about halfway through that assignment in Perth, Australia. He’s thrilled to be there, he says, and loves many things about the job, including: the flexibility, the clinical experiences, the travel opportunities, and the work/life balance.

“You don’t have call-time or overtime,” he explains about his full-time role as a general practitioner. “You're not staying late to catch up on billing or case notes. And you get four weeks vacation right off the bat.” All of that makes it kind of feel a bit like a working vacation, he adds.

Valuable medical experience
One thing that drew Dr. Spertus to this assignment was the clinic’s openness to him doing some integrative medicine — the focus of his fellowship — such as acupuncture. “It took a little bit to get the acupuncture going, but I was able to. And I am really happy that my practice was open to this,” he says.

At the clinic, he has seen newborns, pregnant women, adolescents, adults, and geriatric patients too — all with a wide variety of ailments.

“It’s a big mix,” he says. “The clinical experience has been quite valuable. I see mental health cases and also do pain management too.”

Another thing that drew him to Australia is the high incidence of skin cancer, as skin cancer is one of his medical interests. “Probably 20 percent of my cases are skin cancer,” he explains. “It's a fairly large portion of my practice, which is what I wanted.”

While on assignment, Dr. Spertus has received additional training in skin cancer protocols and mental health treatment. He appreciates how supportive the clinic has been of these educational seminars, as well as the opportunities to visit Melbourne and Sydney.

Practicing medicine in Australia
Australia provides healthcare to all citizens, resulting in some differences from the U.S. system, particularly in billing management. “Healthcare is basically guaranteed, and the system is so much more streamlined because of that,” he explains.

That’s one of the things that Dr. Spertus loves about his assignment in Australia — the streamlined healthcare system.

“Everything at our clinic is pretty much a bulk-billing practice to the government. It makes billing super simple,” he explains.

There is a bit of a hybrid system in Australia, points out Dr. Spertus, with some people getting private insurance on top of the government healthcare. When that happens, practitioners in Australia still don’t have to worry about billing insurance companies, as the patient is responsible for that part, making it easy for them to concentrate on providing quality healthcare instead of doing admin work.

Exploring Australia and Bali
One of Dr. Spertus’ favorite sightseeing experiences in Australia is the beach. “It’s readily accessible with some of the most beautiful beaches I've ever seen!” he says with a smile. “The scenery, the beautiful turquoise water, the soft sand, the beautiful topography in Western Australia with the cliffs and everyone surfing, are stunning. And I love seeing and hearing all of the animals that are so different from the ones in the U.S.”

He adds, “Kangaroos are everywhere, even close to the city and on the beach.”

He also likes seeing Australia’s bird species and other wildlife, like quokkas, a marsupial animal that's native to Rottnest Island off of Perth.

Dr. Spertus routinely visits the local vineyards and has adventured into the outback for camping and exploration too. He went to Bali twice already, for a yoga retreat and for exploration.

“Bali is closer from Perth than most Australian cities — and cheaper to get to,” he points out.

Working locum tenens after residency or post-fellowship
Dr. Spertus recommends that other physicians sign up for an international locum tenens assignment, especially right out of residency or post-fellowship before getting tied down.

“Definitely give it a go,” he encourages. “International locum tenens is oftentimes a once in a lifetime chance. Try to make it work for you, because it's a really great experience. And you get help from your agency for it too.” 

Read more:

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.

Read More