Locums for a Small World Blog

How to pack for an international locum tenens assignment

Posted by Kari Redfield

When it comes to an international locums assignment, how and what you pack matters. Most international flights only allow one checked bag and one carry-on bag per person. How do you get what you need for six or 12 months into that? By following these packing tips from veteran international locums.

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Locum tenens in New Zealand: Must-knows before taking a locums assignment among the Kiwis

Posted by Kari Redfield

Want to go somewhere where you’re always near a beach, the sights are stunning, the people are friendly, and where you’re bound to find adventure? Make sure to add New Zealand to your bucket list of locums destinations.

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Why these 4 doctors love working international locum tenens

Posted by Kari Redfield

Some doctors describe international locums as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, others grab the kids and take them on a series of international jet-setting adventures, and still others embrace it as their new lifestyle. However doctors can fit it in, all of them call their international assignments amazing adventures.

Here’s what four physicians love most about international locums.

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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.
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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: 

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Check out these inspiring photos of recent locum tenens assignments — and go on an adventure to Guam, Northern California, and New Zealand

Posted by Kari Redfield



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.

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Domestic vs. international: Which locum tenens assignment is right for you?

Posted by Kari Redfield



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

International assignments
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.

Domestic assignments
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.

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QUIZ: Are you ready for an international locum tenens assignment?

Posted by Bryan Chouinard

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.

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The unique benefits of practicing healthcare in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Guam

Posted by Kari Redfield

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:

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