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.”
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.
Locums for a Small World Blog
Thinking about exploring another part of the world, while working and gaining valuable career experience? Global Medical Staffing can help make it happen.
We place physicians in first-world countries for six-month to one-year assignments (and shorter assignments in U.S. territories) — and as part of our services, we handle all the logistics of securing the assignment, your visa, and any necessary professional credentials. And, in most of our international assignments, we pay for your airfare, housing and transportation.
The reasons physicians choose a particular part of the world vary, so it pays to learn about the differences in healthcare systems, along with the unique benefits these places offer.
Australia: Good pay and plenty of travel opportunities
Physicians in Australia make good money, similar to what doctors make in the U.S. That’s a big part of the draw for physicians doing locum tenens there — that and the boundless travel potential.
In Australia, the remote areas need physicians (not the urban centers), which means locum tenens physicians on assignment in Australia practice in facilities similar to those found in rural areas in the U.S. (adequate but not super high-tech).
“Typically, physicians decide to take a locum tenens placement in Australia in order to make good money while traveling extensively all around the country and region,” explains Matt Brown, director of Global Medical Staffing’s international division.
Australia provides universal healthcare to citizens, so locum tenens physicians can see high case loads but get paid a pre-negotiated salary that eliminates the hassle of medical billing.
“Our international locum tenens physicians often tell us that they desire a break from private health insurance billing — and they get that in Australia and in most of our international placements,” Brown says.
Three doctors share what it’s like to work locum tenens assignments in Australia.
New Zealand: A slower pace of life in a gorgeous, wild country
Many of New Zealand’s home-trained doctors (1 in 6) go to other countries like Australia for better compensation, which results in a need for physicians throughout all of New Zealand.
“This provides numerous opportunities for visiting physicians in both urban and rural areas,” Brown says.
In fact, any qualified physician who wishes to live like a local in New Zealand for six to 12 months should be able to go, as New Zealand needs physicians in all medical specialties.
Other benefits: great weather, friendly people, and skills that easily transfer. “New Zealand makes it really easy for visiting doctors,” Brown explains.
“The pay is much lower than what a U.S.-practicing doctor makes, so physicians go to New Zealand for the experience,” says Brown. “They go for the lifestyle of being able to walk right out their door into nature to hike and to surf, to travel extensively, and to get back to the roots of practicing real medicine. Every doctor loves their time there.”
Find out how this physician found a new love for medicine while on assignment in New Zealand.
Guam and the U.S. territories: Toehold into Asia
Guam and the Pacific Islands use the U.S. healthcare system, so the quality of care and the way practices operate are identical to U.S. rural areas, making it easy for physicians to adjust.
Because visas and special licenses aren’t required, since Guam is a U.S. territory, doctors who decide to take an assignment can go for a short time while earning the same high wages as they would in the continental U.S.
“Guam is close to everything you would want to see in Asia, making it a perfect way to access all of Asia for travel and exploration. Because of the similarities in pay and assignment duration, going to Guam looks more like what taking a locum tenens assignment within the continental U.S. looks like,” Brown says.
Get one doctor’s take here.
Canada: Good work/life balance, good pay, pretty places
In Canada, healthcare operates as a single-payer government system with some private hospitals and clinics too. Locum tenens physicians earn a similar salary as they would in the U.S. The quality of care and the facilities rank high, but physicians work with large case loads. That said, many locum tenens physicians report that Canadian physicians experience a better work/life balance and lower burnout rates than U.S. physicians. Additionally, assignments can take physicians to especially beautiful places.
We offer two scenarios in Canada:
- The typical international locum tenens situation where you’re not responsible for client billings and instead receive a pre-negotiated salary.
- A longer-term model. “Physicians can own part of the practice and begin to set up their long-term home in the community,” Brown says.
We can arrange for a Canadian citizen to begin practicing in Canada within two weeks. For a U.S. doctor, it takes three to six months to get everything, such as visas and licenses approved, but, as with all our international placements, we secure these for you.
Take the leap
If you’re considering an international placement, we can help you turn your dream into reality.
“Reach out to us with what you want your adventure, downtime, and medical practice to look like, and we can help you find the perfect fit,” says Brown. “Helping place physicians in the right assignments is what we do.
Click the button below to browse our current opportunities. Or just pick up the phone and give us a call at 1.800.760.3174.