Locums for a Small World Blog

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

Posted by Kari Redfield

day 2-2-1

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.

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Topics: benefits of locum tenens, locum tenens lifestyle, travel, Locum Tenens, work life balance, Australian healthcare, Australia, Western Australia, Perth, Instragram, residents, residency

Why this psychiatrist left her permanent position to embrace locum tenens

Posted by Kari Redfield

Resi_McCullars
For as long as Dr. Eva McCullars can remember, she always wanted to be a physician, just like her mom. As a child, she helped her pediatrician mother with patients, answering the phone when her mom was out treating patients on house calls. Her father is also a physician, a surgeon, so Dr. McCullars says, “I was the only child, and I grew up in medicine, so I think it’s in my genes.”

When her family moved to the U.S. from Prague, Dr. McCullars pursued her medical degree, first considering pediatrics, but deciding against that particular specialty during residency. She found her calling in psychiatry after taking a psychiatry program and loving it.

“Even though you have the same diagnoses for different people, everyone’s different,” she explains. “Everybody’s their own person. I was always an artist growing up, and to me, psychiatry’s an art because you have to combine the people’s personalities and their histories with medication, if that’s appropriate, or with a type of therapy or other interventions. Not a single person is alike.”

While working in Yuma, Arizona, at a sub-acute hospital, she ran into physicians working locum tenens, which exposed her to the idea of trying locums at some point. She gave it serious consideration later when, while working at a permanent position at a big hospital, she became dissatisfied with the way things were being run.

“It was all about the bottom-line, and patients weren’t getting good care [because of it],” Dr. McCullars explains.

So she considered moving into private practice. At the same time, her family in Oregon needed help. “The two situations came together where I was starting to be dissatisfied with my permanent job and needing to respond to my family in crises,” she says. “I thought, I can go to Oregon and work. That’s how the process [to full-time locum tenens] started.”

After making the move, the big revelation for Dr. McCullars was discovering that locum tenens provides her with a better way to practice medicine than full-time permanent positions. She feels that with locums, she is better able to make a difference to patients, use her time effectively, and share her gifts.


Benefits of working locum tenens

Why does Dr. McCullars like working locum tenens? “I like the freedom,” Dr. McCullars explains. She says that with locum tenens, she gets to make a comfortable income while going to places she has always wanted to explore. “I wouldn’t go back to a full-time permanent position,” she adds.


Dr. McCullars points out some additional benefits of locum tenens. She says, you can:
  
  • Set your own hours. For Dr. McCullars, this means working four 10-hour days a week and not having to be on call.
  • Take off time between assignments. “I like being able to work for six months and then be off for four months,” she says, which allows her to take a month to go somewhere overseas.
  • Spend time on patients, not politics. “There are a lot of pressures other than taking care of patients when in a permanent position. I love taking care of patients, and locum tenens allows me to do this without any of the other distractions,” Dr. McCullars explains.
  • Avoid being tied down to one location/facility. “Let’s say I want to work in Canada,” says Dr. McCullars. “Just to be able to go to Canada if I want [is a big benefit of locums]. As is the ability to leave a political situation when it’s time to leave.”
  • Avoid burnout. Working locum tenens allows physicians to set realistic work hours, not take work home, and to avoid much of the paperwork and politics that contribute to burnout, Dr. McCullers explains.

Dr. McCullars’ advice for physicians coming out residency


To younger doctors, she says, “It’s really hard to come out of training and make an instantaneous commitment to an area and to a facility. I think you should leave your options open…Definitely become a locums before you settle.”

READ MORE: 9 reasons to work locum tenens after residency

Dr. McCullars’ advice to other physicians

To all physicians considering locum tenens, she says, “You have nothing to be afraid of…you have lots of support along the way. The benefits: being on your own time, being able to work four days a week instead of five days a week, not doing weekends, not doing call, being able to finish an assignment and leave without worrying about the patients…That’s one of the problems of long-term jobs and private practice is you take it home with you…You don’t have to do that as a locum tenens.”

Ready to explore your own locum tenens adventure? 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: benefits of locum tenens, locum tenens lifestyle, travel, Locum Tenens, Oregon, Arizona, residency, work life balance

9 reasons to work locum tenens after residency

Posted by Kari Redfield

Residency
After long hours with low pay and years of education and training, you’ve finished your residency. Hurray! It’s a momentous occasion.

At this point, many doctors take a long-term position, but some opt to go with a locum tenens assignment instead. Locum tenens allows new physicians the chance to explore, travel, gain additional experience, make great money, and find work-life balance — among numerous other benefits.

Here are nine reasons physicians choose to work locum tenens after residency.

1. The experience.

Locum tenens provides freedom, flexibility, and travel opportunities.

“Someone who just completed residency has put in a lot of hard work that was very structured and dictated to them. Now, they can get out there and do what they want to do,” says Adriann Mathis, director of Global Medical Staffing’s domestic division. “Locum tenens provides physicians an incredible opportunity to have work-life balance, the opportunity to get out there while still being in love with the practice of medicine, and the ability to do some traveling while making a great living,”

2. Earn more money.

Domestic locum tenens positions pay competitively with long-term positions, and some pay even more than a typical full-time position, particularly if a client needs to get a shift covered right away or in certain high-demand specialties like psychiatry.

In addition to the potential for a higher salary, locum tenens positions include housing or a housing allowance, along with malpractice insurance coverage, and some even include a transportation allowance.

3. Test run a geographical location or healthcare facility.

Not sure where you want to settle down. You can try out different locations across the U.S. with a locum tenens assignment. We have numerous positions in many locations across the country. You also might be able to find a locum tenens position in a specific healthcare facility in order to get a feel for the team, administrators, and working style ahead of signing a long-term contract.

“Locum tenens provides so many more options to figure out where you ultimately want to land. Or maybe you’ll find that you want a career doing locum tenens and not feel so tied down to one practice or one setting,” Mathis says.

4. Gain exposure to different practice settings, care delivery models, and health systems.

Experiencing how healthcare is delivered in remote parts of the U.S. or other parts of the world can put a fresh spin on medicine. Depending on the assignment, you can see what it’s like to practice in a small hospital, a small private practice, a large hospital, or even a government-funded healthcare system like New Zealand or Australia.

5. Work-life balance.

With locum tenens, you can show up, work your 40 hours, and detach without being responsible for client billings, lots of on-call hours, and vast amounts of paperwork. This is a perfect way to recover from the long hours of medical school and residency, explains Dr. Johnny Shen. Dr. Shen so enjoys the work-life balance that working tenens provides that he’s made it his full-time career, and he’s only one of numerous doctors choosing this route for most or all of their careers.

6. For international assignments: New culture, new country, decent pay — plus, you’ll broaden your knowledge and CV.

International assignments allow you to live like a local somewhere else. You’ll spend enough time in the new place to thoroughly explore it, while meeting a network of locals (who often become friends) that will steer you to the location’s very best places. Additionally, with locum tenens, you’re working in areas of need, so your medical skills truly help people, which also expands your skill set and adds to your CV.

“Physicians take international assignments for different reasons,” says Matt Brown, director of Global Medical Staffing’s international division. “For instance, physicians go to New Zealand for the experience, for the lifestyle, and for the travel opportunities. Physicians go to Guam because it’s close to everything you would want to see in Asia, pays a U.S. wage, offers shorter assignments, and is our U.S. healthcare system that physicians are familiar with. Australia provides typical U.S. physician pay and allows you to travel extensively all around Asia.”

Read more here.

7. A long-term, high-paying practice in another country.

For physicians looking to make a permanent move to another country, locum tenens provides the perfect route. We secure the assignment, the work visa, and pay many of the travel/living expenses for the duration of the initial contract. This sets up a physician to more easily secure a resident visa and begin living in the foreign country permanently.

Dr. Tara Piech pursued locum tenens with the goal of using it as a stepping-stone to move permanently to New Zealand. Dr. Piech, her husband, and son were drawn to New Zealand "for the weather, the nature, the relaxed lifestyle, the sensible political climate, and the universal medical care," she says. She took a locum tenens assignment as soon as she retired from the military and made it permanent from there.

"We also have physicians who complete a typical international contract of nine months to a year and fall in love with the area, the people, and the way of practicing medicine," says Lindsey Schoenberg, Global Medical Staffing placing manager. "Some of them then rearrange their life to make a permanent move possible.

8. Waiting for your life partner to finish school or residency.

If you have a partner still in residency or undergoing some other type of job training, locum tenens can provide you with money and valuable experience — while your partner catches up so you can look for full-time positions together.

9. Autonomy.

For good reason, residencies and teaching hospitals are set up to help ensure that an individual’s inexperience does not harm a patient — and many larger facilities continue to somewhat limit autonomy. If you are looking for more responsibility, with locum tenens, you can choose an assignment that’s a better fit.



Whatever you’re looking for in your career, locum tenens can help you find it.

“I get really excited for this younger group of doctors who are graduating because of the opportunity that locum tenens provides,” Mathis says. “With locum tenens, they have the freedom to go out and explore while making a really great living. When I was younger, I thought that medicine always meant 80-hour workweeks and not much work-life balance. Locum tenens really helps to provide that balance. You can work as much or as little as you like. Additionally, physicians go into medicine because they think of the impact they can have on people’s health and well-being, and with locum tenens, they can truly focus on the patients and not have to worry about running a practice or hospital politics.”

Ready to explore our positions yourself? Click the orange button below to browse our current openings or give us a call at 1.800.760.3174.

Search our current physician opportunities

Topics: benefits of locum tenens, locum tenens lifestyle, international locum tenens opportunity, residency, residents, work life balance

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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.

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