Locums for a Small World Blog

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: 

  • New Zealand: 30 days of PTO for a 12-month assignment, sometimes more.
  • Australia: Six weeks of PTO for a year assignment.
  • Canada: Four to six weeks is the norm, depending on the assignment.
  • Bermuda: Anything longer than a three-month assignment comes with nine days of PTO a year.
  • Saipan: Eight hours of PTO per pay period and four hours of sick leave per pay period.
  • Guam: Longer assignments can accrue PTO, especially around the holidays. In the shorter (three months assignments), physicians can take off pre-approved by the client with no compensation or trade shifts. If the schedule is one-week on/one week off, physicians travel extensively on their weeks off. 

Additionally, most physicians take advantage of being on the other side of the world and add on exploration before and after their assignment, too. While you’re already in these places, nearby destinations are a few hours away by plane, with cheap airfare.

Here’s how four physicians used their PTO while on their international assignment:

Dr. Lambrese
While on a one-year assignment in New Zealand, Dr. Jason Lambrese put his six weeks of PTO to adventurous use. He and his husband, Andy, who accompanied him on the trip, explored the town of Wellington, which Dr. Lambrese describes as, “a very cool city with a hipster vibe with great restaurants.” They also explored the picturesque South Islands, the famous glowworm caves, Stuart Island/ Rakiura with its unique wildlife (like albatross, kiwi, and yellow-eyed penguin), and Auckland where his assignment was — among other places.

“We’ve seen more of New Zealand than most New Zealanders,” says Dr. Lambrese. “It’s really easy to get around. We signed up for alerts about cheap fare, and some plane tickets are as low as $39. It’s nice to have those options, particularly to do weekend trips.”

The couple also traveled for two weeks in Australia, including to the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney, and Melbourne.

“That part of the world is beautiful,” says Dr. Lambrese. “Learning a new way to practice medicine was fascinating. That experience of being in a whole new place and a whole new system was amazing. I needed that change. I can’t wait to go back and visit.”

HokiangaQueenstown

Dr. McCue
While in Guam, Dr. Cheri McCue worked a typical 40-hour week in the urgent care. Working 40 hours felt relaxing, she says, compared to a typical position in the U.S.

“Suddenly in Guam, I had all this extra time because I was away from the responsibilities of home, like home maintenance and calling a contractor. What I learned working locums is that when you closed the computer for the day, you were done and went home and were truly free,” she says.

There were no charts to finish after hours, no meetings, no admin tasks. She could relax, recharge, and explore all over the island, which she did, including to many of Guam’s iconic lagoons and numerous beaches.

After her assignment, she took her first solo vacation ever to Tokyo. “I had never taken a subway in my life, so I had to figure it out.”

Despite the language barrier, she visited the famous shopping area of Tokyo, Buddha statues big enough to go inside of, the intersection where one million people cross a day, the famous Mikimoto Pearl factory — eight floors of top jewelry — and fish markets. Additionally, she also rode in a rickshaw, because where else would she get the opportunity again? In addition to taking the subway, she also walked about eight miles a day in order to truly take in the sights.

“Tokyo has now replaced Hawaii as the place to go for the biggest bang of entertainment per square foot,” she says.

She recommends Tokyo to anyone who can find a way to go.

IMG_2275jpeg-imag

Dr. Pruhs
Dr. Zach Pruhs brought his family along for his assignment in Guam and says that the entire experience of being in Guam and exploring the island on the weekends and traveling to other parts of Asia on vacations is something most people only dream of — and he and his family are doing it. They planned a trip to explore Hong Kong over Christmas and other destinations before coming back to the U.S. mainland.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, they flew to South Korea for five days.

“It was a great adventure, a lot of fun,” he says. “We saw a lot of sights, like the DMZ tour where we could look into North Korea. The museums were topnotch. The Royal Palace in downtown Seoul is really something. My daughter got to try on a traditional Korean dress, and my son got to cook some traditional BBQ while there. It was really amazing.”

His advice to others doing international locums: “You’ve got to take advantage of going to other parts of Asia when you’re on that side of the world.”

IMG_1528IMG_1611

Dr. Russell
While on a three-month assignment in Guam, Dr. Hortense Russell learned to scuba dive.

“The price is reasonable. I lived and worked five minutes from the beach. It was the best thing ever to learn scuba diving while in Guam,” she says. “And the fresh caught fish! Oh, my gosh! I miss that.”

She went to El Nido in the Philippines to scuba dive and describes the experience as just “amazing.”

After the assignment, Dr. Russell traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, and spent five days there.

“It was beautiful. I had not been to Asia before. I am in awe at how good the food was, how wonderful the people were, the massages, how warm and nice it was all the time,” she says.

She also visited Saipan, which is a one-hour flight from Guam, and spent five days in Tokyo and met up with friends to explore the city and Japanese culture.

“The entire adventure was such a wonderful experience. I dream about going back so I may visit other parts of Asia like Bali, China, and Hong Kong. With international locums, you can explore and have experiences you would never have if didn’t step foot outside of the U.S.,” she says.

DrRussell Scuba_PhilippinesDrRussell3_Philippines

Give it a go!
Interested in learning more about how locum tenens can allow you to travel the world? Click the button below to browse our current openings, or give us a call at 1.800.760.3174.
Search our current physician opportunities

Topics: Locum Tenens, work life balance, travel, travel tips, holiday travel, Pacific Islands, Asia, New Zealand, Australia, PTO

Don't know where your next locum tenens assignment will be? Try the Gateway to Asia.

Posted by Everett Fitch

pacific_islands_combined_123456_thinkstock
It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere. That means it’s winter in the Southern. Both seasons tend to bring about a thirst for travel in all of us. Maybe it’s the electricity of summer. Or maybe it’s the somewhat cooped up feeling some of us get in the middle of winter. Either way, a tropical island sounds simply pleasant, doesn’t it? Pleasant because of the solitude. Pleasant because of the weather. Pleasant because of the unerring freedom of steady blue skies and cyclical coastline.

The Caribbean, of course, has this appeal. So do the islands that make up Hawaii. Another Pacific island, though, has driven us to write with such fervor. An island that’s filled with massive coast, seaside cliffs, and endless exploits packed inside a beautiful melting pot of a culture. You should most certainly take time to enjoy every last portion of this lush landscape. From the limestone plateaus in the north to the volcanic hills in the south, the island of Guam has a unique character and energy everywhere you turn.

But believe it or not, Guam offers much more than what’s housed within its boundaries. How? It serves as a phenomenal jumping-off point to experience all-things Asia. In fact, it's known as the Gateway to Asia. Guam is only three to four hours flying time away from lively cities such as Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

So, in light of this, instead of writing unabashedly about all the magnificent aspects of Guam, we thought we’d take time to share a bit about the best things to do in the above-mentioned Asian cities. After all, if you do decide to take a locum tenens assignment in this paradise, you’re a short flight away from these metropolises that once seemed like strange and distant places.

Seoul, South Korea

From the dissipating flames of the Korean War came a roaring, lion-hearted city bent on rebirth. Welcome to Seoul—a 24-hour, brighter-than-bright city you’ll definitely be surprised by. It still retains its seismic past: If you’d like you can take a day-trip to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that splits South Korea from North (this is actually quite the popular tourist spot).

seoul_south_korea_combined_123_thinkstock
Spend as much time in Seoul as you can though because there’s plenty to see and do in the city itself. And its flashing lights shine the way. It’s perfectly reasonable to take a tour of a centuries-old palace (Changdeokgung) follow it up with a visit to a teahouse in a 1930s hanok (Suyeon Sanbang) and end with city-top views in N Seoul Tower (hint: be sure to visit at sunset) all in one day.

Tokyo, Japan



We think Tokyo and visions of neon immediately dance in our heads. A lot of the city looks like a sci-fi film. Take Tokyo Sky Tree for example. Opening barely in 2012, this silvery broadcasting, restaurant and observation spire stands at 634 meters (2,080 feet) above the cityscape. There’s a glass elevator and even glass floors throughout so you can admire the dizzying magnificence of the megalopolis below. And on the clearest of days you can see all the way to Mt. Fuji.

tokyo_japan_thinkstock_123456
Still, Tokyo gives a respectful nod to its past while looking ever-forward to the future. Head to the Kokugikan (sumo amphitheater) to witness a sumo wrestling match. If you want to learn more about this 1,500-year-old tradition, stop by the Sumo Museum first. Tokyo’s gems don’t ever end. There are ancient Buddhist temples (Zōjō-ji) to admire. There are riverboat cruises along the Sumida-gawa (the city’s central waterway) to enjoy. There are street-packed festivals (Sanja Matsuri) complete with portable shrines. We can’t forget the famous Roppongi Hills, either. It’s full of shopping malls, museums and breathtaking gardens.

Hong Kong



Hong Kong is quite the interesting place and like Seoul and Tokyo, it has a storied past. As much as you’ll see an endless horizon of modern buildings scraping the misty sky, you’ll see just as much ancient and colonial tradition winding its way through flashy night clubs, idyllic beaches, green mountains, lively markets (Temple Street Night Market) and even atmospheric temples (Man Mo Temple). This fusion of old and new is everywhere.

hong_kong_thinkstock_123456
A mix of chaos and harmony also exists. Within hours you can jump on a double-decker tramcar and explore behind the scenes, wander around in a Song-dynasty village, catch views from Victoria Peak (the highest point on Hong Kong island), be hypnotized by a Cantonese opera, and engorge yourself with sweet and sour prawn in a high-class restaurant or right in a dai pai dong (open-air food stall). Satiate your hunger for adventure and great food virtually anywhere in this vibrant city.

Keep in mind, we do not currently place in any of the above-mentioned Asian cities.

These are simply fantastic regions to explore while you’re on your locum tenens assignment in Guam. If you’re interested in learning more about where we place, go ahead and view our current physician opportunities. Then feel free to request information, or contact us.

Search international jobs

Topics: Gateway to Asia, Pacific Islands, Hong Kong, Seoul, Pacific Island, Tokyo, Asia

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.

Subscribe by Email

Most Popular Posts

Browse by Tag

see all