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
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:
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Our locum tenens physicians take assignments in gorgeous parts of the world, in both the U.S. and abroad. Take a break and send your dreams soaring with these recent photos from three physicians. They’re sure to inspire your own locums adventure.
Meet Dr. Anita Haugabrook
Doc Nita recently moved from a full-time long-term position to locum tenens in order to passionately practice medicine, regain work/life balance, set her own schedule, and travel to new places. Here’s a look at some photos from her Northern California adventure:
Here I am flying out to Northern Cali. What beautiful views. When my recruiter asked me the primary location that I wanted to experience, I told her California! And she made it happen!
The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas — the largest Buddhist monastery in western society!
Every Saturday in Ukiah, they block off one of the streets downtown for the farmers market! The vegetables were so fresh and colorful.
Amazing views... I love Ukiah!
Meet Dr. Anu Taylor
Many physicians choose an assignment in Guam because they can take an assignment as short as three months — and use the adventure as a jumping off point to explore all of Asia. Here are some of Dr. Taylor’s favorite sites:
Chamorro fire dance on the beach in front of Jimmy Dee's.
My favorite — Tom yum gai soup!
Hey everyone! I’m at work today. Guam memorial hospital is a government hospital. We make a difference here to the locals, and they appreciate us. Patients are very sweet, nurses are very self-sufficient and fun. Schedule is optimal for a real work-life balance, and with two weeks off, we docs travel often — Japan, Bali, Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap, to name a few.
Sunset over Citi Point, Guam. You can hike down to the beach and back and it will only take you six hours — definitely a difficult terrain but what fun!
Meet Dr. Sara Jalali
Dr. Jalali recently took a six-month international locum tenens assignment in Whanganui, New Zealand, bringing along her husband. She says it has reinvigorated her passion for medicine. “It feels like a working holiday. I just love seeing the country!” Here are a few of her photos:
Yes, that's a baby alpaca! Not only did I get to take one for a walk, but I got to feed the mamas by hand and cuddle with handfuls of new babies. The farm I visited was only a short drive away and there are more farms and cute animals everywhere you look!
Before I got here, I had this idea in my head that small town government funded hospital meant old, outdated equipment. I couldn't have been more wrong! From the moment I stepped inside the ED I was pleasantly surprised at the state of the art technology.
My hubby and I had big plans to cook tonight, but 5 minutes later we were headed down the road toward Castlecliff Beach to visit our favorite burger spot in town. Aside from the killer food, one of my favorite things about this street is the unique landscape. Our famous celebrity ceramic artist, Ivan Vostinar, was the sole potter for the Hobbit movies. He is now a Whanganui local! His studio is across the street from the restaurant.
Check out this sunset view from our home. We feel so lucky to look out the window and see the famous Whanganui River snaking around the city to our left, and lush green hills with sheep, donkeys, chickens, and horses to our right! This town has a perfect blend of rural and urban vibes.
Subscribe for more photos
All three of these physicians recently took over our Instagram account. Head over to our page to check out many more photos right here.
Want to start your own 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.
Ready to escape the demanding hours of your long-term physician position and instead gain work/life balance, while earning a good living? Want to travel near or far, while getting paid? Then, chances are, locum tenens can benefit you.
An important consideration is whether to take a domestic assignment or an international one. This doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition, as many physicians work both kinds during their career, points out Global Medical Staffing's Dena Sween, especially as they transition out of or back into the U.S.
Still, to help you get started on your first locum tenens assignment, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of both types.
Dr. Anu Taylor on assignment in the U.S. territory of Guam
Our international assignments deliver a memorable experience living like a local in another culture, while practicing first-world medicine in a safe environment, in locations such as Guam, Canada, the Caribbean, the U.K., China, or the “down under” countries of Australia and New Zealand. These positions usually involve set hours without on-call time, along with generous vacation time, allowing for extensive travel time while you are there. That’s one of the biggest reasons physicians choose international locums.
International assignments provide adventure and exposure to different health systems, which builds your CV and helps you to increase your skill level. Additionally, many physicians, like Dr. Sara Jalali, report that these assignments reinvigorate their passion for medicine, helping relieve burn out.
Another perk is that we’re placing in more areas of the world than ever before. “There are all of these fantastic options just starting to pop up, so basically what we tell people is to get on our list so that when that really cool new thing comes through, you hear about it first,” Sween says.
Challenges of international assignments can include collecting the necessary paperwork and the requirement to take on longer commitments, often one year. Although there are some three month assignments available in Guam and the Caribbean. Going to Guam and other U.S. territories requires that U.S. physicians possess a U.S. passport but no visa. Plus, as with all positions, it requires credentialing and privileging, often taking three months from the time you accept the assignment.
Paperwork for other international placements takes a little longer; the typical minimum assignment length is longer too. For instance, it usually takes three months to complete the medical registration and visa process for New Zealand, and requires a six-month minimum assignment. The paperwork for credentialing, privileging, licensing, and visa processes in Australia and Canada take six to eight months, and typically require longer assignments, usually one-year minimum.
“There’s going to be paperwork anywhere you go, domestic or international,” Sween points out. “They [the hospital administrators] need to know who’s coming in and working in their healthcare system. The fantastic thing is that we have an amazing team who walks you through all of that and holds your hand throughout the process.”
Another possible challenge of international locums might be an expectations mismatch. For instance, housing may be different from the typical U.S. set up.
“We look at what the local doctors live in, and that’s kind of the level we put doctors into,” Sween explains. “For example in New Zealand, you may not have air-conditioning; that’s standard in the area. Having that flexibility in your expectations and listening when our recruiters are setting those expectations is really important.”
She adds that part of the reason many physicians choose an international assignment is to live like a local. “It’s part of the adventure.”
Other possible challenges: Practicing medicine in another country might involve differences. Also, many people feel both excited and nervous about the assignment.
These are valid concerns, Sween points out, but it’s rare that a physician takes an international assignment and feels like it wasn’t worth their time or that their family didn’t bond because of it. The keys are to communicate your expectations with your recruiter, and then go with an open mind.
Dr. Anita Haugabrook takes a selfie with colleagues while on assignment in the U.S.
If you want less adventure or can’t leave the U.S. for several months, choose a domestic assignment instead of an international one, Sween says. Domestic assignments allow you to take on very short assignments. They provide more flexibility, more choice, and more options. You choose your pay, your schedule, and your working conditions.
“You can do weekend work. You can commit to five shifts a month,” Sween explains. “That’s the beauty of domestic work, the flexibility.”
Another benefit is that domestic assignments pay more than international assignments, and often more than a long-term position, especially for hard-to-fill shifts or specialties, like psychiatry.
Some physicians choose domestic assignments in order to spend time near their family/college kid, to tackle their travel bucket lists, or to use their skills to help a vulnerable population. Other motivations include spending more time with family, combating physician burn out, avoiding extensive admin and billing paperwork, and taking charge of their destiny.
Possible challenges can include the paperwork involved in getting licensing in other states, or for some positions, requirements can be very specific (i.e. certain certifications, experience, or training). However, don’t let those possible challenges hold you back. We have all kinds of assignments across specialties all over the U.S. and are committed to helping physicians find what they’re looking for.
Reach out to us today
If you’re interested in learning more about locum tenens, contact us. “Let us know what your expectations are, so we can find you a great fit,” Sween encourages. “And feel free to call us ahead of time, even years before you can go international. We can answer questions along the way, or place you in domestic assignments, or help you start planning in a certain direction to turn those dreams into reality.”
Ready to launch your own locum tenens adventure? Click the button below to browse our current opportunities or give us a call at 1.800.760.3174.
You've thought before about an international assignment, but how do you know if the timing is right? Take our fun, short, eight-question quiz to find out whether you’re ready to head off on your own international locum tenens assignment.
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.
Have you ever wanted to get off the beaten path to travel, revitalize the passion for your career, and experience another culture? Dr. Sara Jalali chose exactly that when she lined up a six-month international locum tenens assignment in Whanganui, New Zealand, through Global Medical Staffing.
“It feels like a working holiday. I just love seeing the country!” says Dr. Jalali.
Dr. Jalali first contemplated international locum tenens after hearing about it at a conference during her residency. Over the years, she kept coming back to the idea, and eventually took steps to make it a reality.
Her only regret? This assignment lasts only six months.
A family affair
As part of putting the assignment into motion, Dr. Jalali’s husband took a sabbatical from work in order to join her.
“He just can't rest, so he ended up doing a couple pro bono projects for local organizations here in Whanganui,” she says with a laugh. “I joke that he’ll run for mayor one day because he seems to know everyone.” He also took time in New Zealand to pursue a passion: building a guitar."
Today I stopped by our neighbor's wood shop to see my husband's progress building a bass under the guidance of Kevin, a luthier. Whanganui is a very artistic town with opportunities for classes in woodworking, ceramics, glass blowing, and just about anything else you want to try!
Discovering gorgeous vistas and yummy foods
Dr. Jalali and her husband love Whanganui’s beauty and its artistic culture. It makes for an ideal home, even if only for a half year.
Check out this sunset view from our home. We feel so lucky to look out the window and see the famous Whanganui River snaking around the city to our left, and lush green hills with sheep, donkeys, chickens, and horses to our right! This town has a perfect blend of rural and urban vibes.
They’ve extensively explored the town, made many friends, and delighted in the local cuisine, which Dr. Jalali calls “truly farm-to-table fresh.”
Check out this photo from an egg shop where you can pick your eggs based on size, single or double yolk, free range, etc. On that note, not far from here you can get unpasteurized milk out of a vending machine!
In order to travel all over New Zealand, Dr. Jalali works a stretch of shifts over two weeks, then takes advantage of a week or more off. After the assignment, they plan to see Fiji and Australia as well.
Medicine that matters
New Zealand allows doctors to spend more time with patients and provide care to those who truly need it, something Dr. Jalali finds refreshing.
“The people are lovely — so appreciative, patient, and kind. Patients often tell me, ‘You can send me home; you guys are busy, and other patients need this bed more than I do,’ ” says Dr. Jalali.
Because of this, the assignment has helped revitalize her passion for medicine.
“Only three years out of residency, I already started feeling burned out. Coming here has reminded me why I went into emergency medicine in the first place. This is what I always thought practicing in my field would entail.”
The clinics and hospitals where locum tenens physicians work make sure that new staff quickly get indoctrinated into the new culture through cultural training, along with the ongoing help of cultural liaisons.
Meet two valuable colleagues in the Emergency Department: Ren and Kiri, liaisons for our Maori Health Services who assist our multidisciplinary teams with family-centered care, discharge planning, and community services. Their invaluable support facilitates relationships between patients, families, and staff.
“Oh, and the ED facilities are absolutely first-rate,” she adds. “The technology is even more up to date than the big name hospitals in the U.S. that I came from!”
Dr. Jalali urges physicians to give international locum tenens a go. It delivers opportunities to travel, get a new perspective on medicine, and do meaningful work. “Just do it,” she says. “It provides such amazing experiences.”
Dr. Jalali recently took over our Instagram to share pictures from her locum tenens assignment in New Zealand. Head over to our Instagram page to see all her photos.
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.
Imagine jetting to the other side of the world where you’ll immerse yourself in the local culture, travel extensively, and work a flexible schedule. Through our international locum tenens program, many physicians — and their spouses — live like locals in another country.
The idea of taking a break from our incredibly demanding, fast-paced U.S. medical field to see other parts of the world while still earning a living tends to get physicians dreaming. When couples consider how to make it a reality, many logistics come into play, such as whether both need to work or if just one can. For some, the former holds true. Other couples purposefully free up their spouse in order to more fully explore the new area.
Whatever your situation, this Q&A with Andee Nelson, an international placement specialist at Global Medical Staffing, will help clear up basic questions about visas and your spouse’s work privileges.
Can my spouse work too?
Whether or not your spouse can work will depend on many factors, including the location of the assignment, your spouse’s line of work, and your length of stay.
In New Zealand and Australia, where we place many international locum tenens physicians, the rules are that your spouse can work via your work visa if:
- You work there for more than six months.
- Your spouse gets any necessary certifications/licenses to work in his/her profession.
We placed a physician in New Zealand, for example, whose wife wanted to work as a teacher. New Zealand recognized her U.S. training and schooling as valid, allowing her to secure the necessary professional certifications in advance of their trip.
Why does an assignment need to last more than six months for my spouse to work?
A six-month assignment means that you, the physician, and your spouse must enter and leave the country in 182 days — not a day later — and this type of visa does not allow your spouse to work. If you both want to work, let your recruiter know as soon as possible, so we can secure an assignment that’s longer than six months.
Also, if you want to stay in the country longer than 182 days in order to travel, tell us upfront so we can secure the proper visa(s) and assignment to accommodate the extra travel time.
How long does the visa process take?
From when our physicians accept a locum tenens assignment, it takes four to six months to complete the medical registration and attain a visa, which we secure for our physicians.
Can we secure our own visas?
No. We do this for you because you need a job and in-country sponsor before you can apply for your medical certification and visa.
Does my spouse need a sponsor/job offer in the country before we go?
No, not in New Zealand and Australia. In these two countries, your spouse can work under your visa so they don’t need an upfront job offer, in-country sponsor, and separate visa. That said, your spouse may need to secure some type of certification/license to work in his/her field — and you should look into this in advance of your trip.
Can my Global Medical Staffing recruiter help my spouse find work?
If your spouse works as a physician, then yes, we can certainly look to place you both in the same city. If not, then it’s difficult for us to get too involved. That said, let us know if your spouse wants to work so we can secure the proper visa and assignment. Also, we can talk to our in-country clients to see if they know people in your spouse’s field. For example, one spouse worked as a nurse, and although the hospital where we placed our physician didn’t have a position for her, our client connected her to a hospital that did.
Are there typically job opportunities for spouses where you place international locum tenens physicians?
That depends both on the location and your spouse’s field. The bigger the city, the more options your spouse likely will have. Remember that we place physicians in areas of need, which tend to be more rural. So even though we place extensively in Australia, we don’t often see opportunities in Sydney or Melbourne because there’s not a need there. However, we do frequently place physicians in Auckland and Wellington, New Zealand, which are both big cities.
What can we do to prepare if we both want to work?
Research what jobs are available and where, keeping in mind where we place physicians. Also find out what types of certifications/licenses are necessary for your spouse to work in his/her professional field in the country where you’re considering a locum tenens assignment. If possible, try to speak with people with experience in that field in that country to gain additional insights.
Can my spouse volunteer while we’re abroad?
Although placing people in volunteer positions isn’t within our realm of expertise and responsibility, we have noticed that some spouses take on volunteer work for altruistic reasons and in order to meet people and get more immersed in the local culture — and because volunteering often doesn’t require special certifications/licenses or visas. If interested, definitely talk to us about it and we can connect you with the in-country client who may know of opportunities.
My spouse may be able to work remotely with their company for six to nine months. Are there special visa considerations?
Neither New Zealand nor Australia would classify your spouse as working in their country for visa purposes since the employer is U.S.-based. For this reason, for these two countries, we would secure a visitors visa for your spouse when we secure your work visa. Other countries apply different rules to this same situation — so you can get more specific with your recruiter when you’re looking at assignments together.
If you’re considering international locum tenens, check out our open positions, do some research about your spouse’s work options, and give us a call at 800.760.3174.
Although we can’t find your spouse a job, we can help point them in the right direction and provide additional resources. Who knows … soon, the two of you could be learning to surf and snorkel, exploring underwater caves, trying exotic foods, immersing yourselves in a different culture, and spending many days simply admiring remote natural wonders — all on the other side of the world.
We’re spotlighting one of our international locum tenens physicians: Dr. Sean Ryan. He chose locum tenens because he loves experiencing other cultures like a local. This prompted him to take an assignment to New Zealand when his daughter was a toddler.
“I was there for six months and received the same vacation as a regular, full-time employee, which was three weeks off. In addition to all kinds of weekend explorations, we [my wife, daughter and myself] took two big trips, one through the North Island, where we went blackwater rafting on innertubes through glowworm caves. The other was to the South Island, where we were able to take a boat trip to Milford Sound, hike on a glacier, and go wine tasting and whale watching."
While on his New Zealand assignment through Global Medical Staffing Dr. Ryan, a psychiatrist, worked with the Māori Mental Health Team that served New Zealand’s native Polynesian people. The team greets all new providers with a traditional welcoming ceremony.
“It was such a welcome beyond anything I would have expected,” says Dr. Ryan. “Additionally, my colleagues were so inviting. I couldn’t have felt more part of that team while I was there.”
The natural splendor of the remote tropics often left him awestruck. “It was so beautiful. Parua Bay was just outside our house, and we could see wildlife and go on hikes deep into the forest right out the front door.”
After that six-month locum tenens assignment, Dr. Ryan took a second assignment in Tasmania, Australia.
"We loved living in Tasmania. Hobart is a fun, walkable city that's surrounded by beautiful nature. We were close to waterfalls and giant tree fern forests, and we loved seeing wild animals like wallabies and echidnas on our hikes."
In between the two assignments, he and his family spent time exploring the Cook Islands, Fiji and Bali. While in Australia, they visited Sydney, Melbourne, and went scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef.
New Zealand: A Slower Pace of Life
In the northern, more tropical part of New Zealand, the facilities were small and simple, reminding Dr. Ryan of his past experience in the Eastern Caribbean’s Saint Lucia. Sometimes lab work and radiological exams took longer than in the U.S., but Dr. Ryan quickly adjusted to the differences. In fact, for psychiatry in particular, the slower pace perhaps was more beneficial for patients in order to get more time with physicians and longer in-hospital stays when necessary, he says.
“I reminded myself that it doesn’t matter what country you’re in, the goal is the same: to take care of patients. My advice to other international locum tenens doctors is to settle into that idea, and you’ll have a much easier time adjusting.”
City Life in Australia
His Tasmanian experience was in a modern hospital, similar to the U.S. teaching hospital where he did his residency. There, he made a point of introducing himself to people and setting up social outings in order to get to know his colleagues well, which created lifelong friendships.
That’s the second piece of advice he offers doctors who take an international locum tenens assignment: Get out and meet people.
How Locum Tenens Works
Global Medical Staffing took care of all the logistics for Dr. Ryan, from helping secure Dr. Ryan’s medical licensure for working internationally, to arranging the family’s housing, to booking the flights.
“They even helped with a poorly working vacuum when the landlord was giving us the runaround and just let us purchase one and get reimbursed,” Dr. Ryan points out, a big deal to a family with a toddler. His Global Medical Staffing recruiter also helped the family look into licensing requirements for his wife, a speech pathologist, to see if it was feasible for her to work in Australia as well. “Global Medical Staffing made everything so much easier,” he explains. She opted instead to volunteer at a local vocational college, helping refugees and immigrants learn English, and had an incredible experience.
Although in the U.S. locum tenens assignments pay really well, international locums rates are typically lower. But with the hospitals providing their housing and transportation, Dr. Ryan’s family was actually able to save money, even while traveling extensively. “We thought we would need extra money to do this, and it turned out we put money into savings instead, which was a nice surprise,” says Dr. Ryan.
Ready for More Overseas Adventure
Dr. Ryan is already excited to take on another international assignment when his daughter graduates from high school. In the meantime, in addition to his full-time practice he occasionally takes on a weekend locum tenens assignment in places like Santa Cruz, California, a city he loves visiting.
He says to other healthcare professionals: “Don’t hesitate to look into international locum tenens. It's easier than it seems, especially with a locum tenens company like Global Medical Staffing that assists throughout the whole thing. I can’t wait to go do it again.”
Ready for your own international locum tenens adventure? You can view our current opportunities here. Or just pick up the phone and give us a call at 1.800.760.3174. We're always here to discuss your options and answer any questions you might have.
It’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:
THE FEW, THE QUALIFIED, THE LOCUMS PHYSICIANS.
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.
THEY NEED YOU, THEY REALLY, REALLY NEED YOU!
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.
YOU CAN PUT PATIENTS FIRST. TRULY.
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.
IT CAN LEAD TO A WHOLE NEW LIFE — OR A NEW LEASE ON YOUR CURRENT ONE!
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.