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
This past November, Dr. Maria Chansky went on her fourth medical mission, this time to Haiti. The Haiti mission was made possible through a generous grant from the Making a Difference Foundation in partnership with International Medical Relief, enabling five physicians and several support staff members to travel to and within Haiti for eight days, giving of their time and skills to those most in need of medical and dental care.
Every day, the team set up at a different site in order to treat as many people as possible.
“We had to figure out how to use the site effectively, had to figure out where the dentists were going to be, where the primary care providers were going to be, where the patient education was going to be, where the pharmacy was going to be,” says Dr. Chansky. “Really, we had to work together to organize, lay things out, and move benches and equipment.”
Dr. Chansky says the whole team stepped up wonderfully, making the logistics and delivery of care a smooth process that benefited a lot of Haitians.
Life in Haiti
Even though Dr. Chanksy has seen other places devastated by natural disasters, one thing that struck her about Haiti was how destroyed parts of it still are from the 2010 earthquake.
“There are almost like two Haitis,” says Dr. Chansky. “There’s the group of people in Haiti who still have places to live and still have work, but then there are people whose neighborhoods were completely destroyed by the earthquake — and they’re living in refugee camps, and their neighborhoods haven’t been rebuilt. It’s been eight years and they still have nothing. It seems like the people who were really devastated by the earthquake, their situation hasn’t really changed or improved much, which is heartbreaking.”
Dr. Chansky adds: “The incredibly huge line of patients who were waiting to be seen spoke to the importance of what we were doing.”
Putting medical skills to good use
Dr. Chansky says that she is drawn to these missions in order to give back to those most in need.
“I like working with the disenfranchised populations, learning about them, seeing what life is like in different places, and serving people who need my services. I really enjoy working with people and getting to know them and doing something that hopefully makes a difference in their life,” she explains. “From a purely selfish point of view, I get to travel to places that perhaps I wouldn’t go to otherwise and meet people who I wouldn’t otherwise meet, and I really enjoy that.”
This desire to help those who most need medical care is part of why Dr. Chansky has worked as a locum tenens physician at various times throughout her 21-year career. She worked three years in New Zealand, plus a couple years of full-time locum tenens in the continental U.S.
“The clinics that are hiring locums are the clinics that are probably in the greatest need, and so I’m filling the role and providing a service,” she explains.
She also likes locums because she enjoys traveling and meeting people. The third thing she likes about locum tenens is the flexibility.
“I have a lot of flexibility as far as where I am and when, so if my husband’s parents or my parents had some kind of emergency I could get locums work close to them,” Dr. Chansky explains.
She says that flexibility also meant that when she was working locums, she could be in a certain place at a certain time of the year to experience something unique to that area — or to take time off for a holiday or family gathering. Locums also allowed her to set her own schedule, decide where she wanted to work, and work fewer hours than a long-term position.
Dr. Chansky says that she encourages other physicians to consider locums if they are looking for more flexibility, travel opportunities, and want to use their medical skills where they are most needed.
She also encourages physicians to sign up for a medical mission to see life through others’ eyes and give back.
Inspired to make a difference through a medical mission? The Making a Difference Foundation partners with world-class nonprofits to provide physicians the opportunity to participate in meaningful medical missions to make a difference around the globe. Visit them to learn more about medical mission opportunities.
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.
Aristotle once said, “Friendship is essentially a partnership.” That can be said of Dr. Ronald Stiller and his physician reps at Global Medical Staffing.
Kipp Robinson, domestic recruiter at Global Medical Staffing, recruited Dr. Stiller by pointing out that Global could pay a lot more than Dr. Stiller’s permanent position, allowing less work and more travel.
“I have two passions in life: medicine and travel,” says Dr. Stiller. “If you put me on a plane and send me somewhere, I’m a pretty happy guy. My ex-wife and I took our kids to China, Australia, Europe, and Cambodia when they were growing up.”
The opportunity came just at the right time in Dr. Stiller’s professional and personal life. He was recently divorced and wanted to travel as much as possible, and Robinson was just the right personality. During that first call, they went on to have a 45-minute conversation. Since then, Robinson and Dr. Stiller have become friends.
“It was purely fortuitous that my call was with Kipp,” Dr. Stiller says. “We hit it off immediately. He’s more than my handler. He became a friend, despite the age and geographical differences.”
Robinson echoes the sentiment: “He’s my 72-year-old friend. I’ve come to him about my professional growth. He’s a father figure because he knows both medicine and hospital administration. He calls things like they are, bringing such honesty to our relationship.”
Choosing the right assignment
Dr. Stiller mostly works a regular shift in Walla Walla, Washington, with some shifts in Spokane, Washington, and occasional shifts elsewhere to help us — and our hospital clients — out.
Dr. Stiller explains why he chose Washington state: “I was born and bred in Boston as an East Coast liberal democrat. I wanted to see something different. I wanted to travel and practice medicine.”
Locums allows exactly that — and more.
The hospitalist shift in Walla Walla, as well as some work in Spokane, felt like a great fit. It was quite different from Dr. Stiller’s East Coast life and his daughter is a medical resident in Seattle, which has allowed him to see her more often.
In addition, Dr. Stiller has always been dedicated to medical missions with Surgical Core International. He’s been all over the world, including Burma, Ethiopia, Bhutan, and Kazakhstan. With his extremely flexible locums schedule, he can continue to go on these trips, where he provides care for those who have received plastic surgery procedures after being born with deformities or having been in accidents.
“Bhutan is in the middle of the Himalayas. It’s exquisite, and a country with limited healthcare resources,” Dr. Stiller explains. “You get even deeper into the culture when do healthcare in a country, and really get to see people dealing with their struggles. For instance, some patients in Bhutan had been mauled by bears, which really put a burden on the family, village, and the person. To be able to be involved in the restoration of that, or a cleft palette, for instance, is rewarding. We get a lot back from the experience.”
Benefits of locums
Dr. Stiller retired from his full-time position the summer after he started with us.
“He’s the poster boy for locums: highly qualified, extremely skilled, and genuine — with excessive training beyond the scope of what he’s doing for us,” Robinson says. “He was the academic attending that taught everyone how to be a doctor, and has been an influential leader for many years at his full-time position, but he’s still humble.”
Dr. Stiller, like most of our domestic physicians, gets paid well, better than a long-term position. For this reason, and because of where he is in his career, Dr. Stiller usually works one seven-days-in-a-row hospitalist shift a month with the rest of the time to travel and pursue other passions.
“He gets to practice medicine where they love him and where they make him feel wanted,” Robinson says. “He’s overqualified as a hospitalist, and there are a couple people living who would not be alive in Walla Walla if Dr. Stiller hadn’t been working. He’s an invaluable member to the team there.”
Dr. Stiller adds, “I have a new family away from home at Walla Walla. I have been able to expand my horizons and meet other people. The locums universe pays well, so lots of doctors do it for the money, but for me, I find that it’s a joyous thing to do.”
How to choose a locum tenens agency
Having a physician recruiter that you genuinely like and connect with plays an important role in ensuring you have successful locums assignments and experiences. We at Global Medical Staffing go out of our way to develop caring relationships with our physicians — and to ensure a good personality fit between reps and doctors. This is one thing that sets us apart from other locums agencies, and something we hear often from many of our physicians.
Dr. Stiller, like many of our physicians, has met all of his Global Medical team in person. At one point during a layover in Salt Lake City (where we’re headquartered), Dr. Stiller and Robinson hiked a local mountain peak and had meals together. Dr. Stiller also got to meet the rest of his team, which include reps who handle credentialing, the travel logistics, the assignments, and the scheduling.
“I’m sure that people from other agencies have personal connections with their doctors, but I can say that my experience with Global has been enormously satisfying, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” says Dr. Stiller.
If a problem does come up, Dr. Stiller, like all of our doctors, can text the team personally to get any issue resolved. Additionally, we take time to put the extra effort into all of the little details, to prevent problems and keep our physicians satisfied.
“I value my relationships with Global,” Dr. Stiller says. “‘Warm personalities’ doesn’t even begin to touch what I feel about them. These are wonderful people that I can call friends. We care about each other.”
Interested in learning about how locum tenens can help you soar? Click the button below to browse our current openings, or give us a call at 866.858.6269.
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.
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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.”
- Check out more photos from Spertus’ Instagram takeover.
- See 9 reasons to work locums after residency.
- Learn about the unique benefits of practicing healthcare in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Guam.
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.
Explore the country, contributing your valuable medical skills where they’re most needed — while earning good money. That’s all possible with locum tenens. Right now, we have openings all across the U.S.
Some physicians choose to do locum tenens full-time, in order to gain work/life balance, spend time with family, and choose their own hours. Other physicians take on occasional locums work in order to travel to their bucket list destinations. Isn’t it time that you did something for yourself? Went someplace new? Tried something different?
Why not line up an assignment — and explore while you’re there? Oh, and did we mention the perks? In most cases, we pay for your airline flights, housing, and malpractice insurance. We’ll help you through the licensing and credentialing processes. Plus, wherever you go, you’ll be adding to your CV while helping people where you’re needed and appreciated.
Not sure where to go? Here are the five top states to explore:
- California: Sea to mountains, city to country, and everything in between!
One of our regular locums physicians likes to visit Santa Barbara in order to take on some locum tenens shifts, to see friends, and to enjoy the sights and food. Many other locum tenens doctors choose to take assignments in iconic California, too. And why not? In California, you can explore wine country; walk through Hollywood; and visit Yosemite, the Redwoods, Joshua Tree, Lake Tahoe, and all of the other wild wonders. From city life to remote mountains to beautiful beachside sunsets to all kinds of entertainment, California has variety and splendor for everyone.
Ready to go on your own Californian adventure and get paid for it? Contact us today, as a permanent California license takes about 16 weeks to secure. We’ll help you through it, and typically cover the cost.
- Massachusetts: History, beer, sports, water — and more!
There’s so much to do in Massachusetts, from the famous Massachusetts Whale Trail — which links nearly 40 museums, attractions, whale watching excursions, historic sites, and tours — to the legendary sites in Boston, to a replica of the original Mayflower boat, to the wonders of Cape Cod and Nantucket. And there’s crabbing, clamming, fishing — and so much more! Food, brew pubs, arts, theater, sports, and many activities captivate tourists and locals alike.
Western Massachusetts is beautiful, full of lush green hills in the Berkshires, to the dazzling foliage along the Mohawk Trail, America’s first scenic road drive (and yes, you can hike through the forest there, too). Hike and bike this side of the state — or go on a local food tour via the quant bed-and-breakfasts and spas.
Oh, and who wouldn’t want to enjoy New England’s dazzling colors in fall? And don’t forget the 14,000 acres of active cranberry bogs.
Sound fun? Get started, as generally, licensing takes 16 weeks, so contact us today if you’re interested, and we’ll help you through the process.
- North Carolina: Mountains, valleys, and sea
North Carolina has mountains, valleys, and miles of seashore. Whether you’re looking for an urban retreat, or something off the beaten path for all kinds of recreational adventure (from fishing, hot air ballooning, sky diving, hiking, biking, skiing, golf, rock climbing, and more), you can find it in North Carolina. Visit eclectic cafes and breweries, moonshine distilleries, vineyards, historic landmarks, museums about the Wright brothers and their famous Kitty Hawk and so many other historical eras — and lots more.
As the locals say, “North Carolina has long been associated with sweet tea, NASCAR and the Duke-Chapel Hill basketball rivalry.” All true, but there’s much more too.
Licensing takes about six weeks, so get started with us today.
- Minnesota: They call it ‘Minnesota nice’ for a reason
Minnesota boasts more than 10,000 natural glacial lakes and is perhaps the origins of politeness, with down-to-Earth people who know how to work hard and express their gratitude. If you like nature, water, and water sports (from top-notch fishing lakes to water skiing), then be sure to visit. With so many lakes and rivers, Minnesota has more miles of shoreline than California, Florida, and Hawaii combined.
The Twin Cities (the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area) features culture galore, including numerous museums, more than 120 theater companies, tons of local music, and good food. With so many parks and green space, you can bike from one side of Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area to the other on bike paths with nary leaving greenspace.
Southwestern Minnesota features prairie land, quiet spaces, and simple, uber affordable living. Northern Minnesota, is the land of lakes and forests, with Duluth acting as the gateway to Lake Superior, which is so big that all the other Great Lakes combined could fit into it, with waves sometimes as tall as 40 feet.
Licensing in Minnesota can take about six weeks, so reach out to us today!
- Michigan: The Great Lake State, industry central, and Motown
From Mackinac Island, where no cars are allowed, to the origins of American industry, to jumping off into adventure on any of the four Great Lakes, Michigan has a lot to offer. Uniquely, no matter where you are in Michigan, you’re always within 85 miles of one of the Great Lakes’ shorelines. The Upper Peninsula is known for rugged living, splendid wildlife, numerous lakes, and nature. It’s a must-see at least once in a lifetime and the perfect spot for any type of outdoor adventure. In the Lower Peninsula, visit museums to see the birthplace of modern industry, explore the roots of Motown, dine on fine or fun food, see live music, and go to festivals, farmers markets, and more.
As the locals say it, “Whether you are an urban adventurer or an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie or a thrill-seeker, traveling with your family or making memories with friends — you are on the brink of planning a vacation so unique, it can only be classified as Pure Michigan.”
Plan around six weeks to get your license. Contact us today!
Get started on your adventure
Ready to explore your own locum tenens adventure? Ready to treat yourself to some travel? 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.
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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.
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.
Dr. Anita Haugabrook (Doc Nita) first got into locum tenens during a transitional point in her career. She had just left a fulltime partner role in a physician group and wanted some time to consider options before signing a long-term contract. However, she soon fell in love with the locum tenens way of life and decided to make it permanent.
“Transitioning to the world of locums was a leap of faith. Thanks to Global Medical Staffing and my consultant, Sydnee Shelton, for making my dreams a reality!” Doc Nita says.
What Doc Nita loves is the way locum tenens allows her to passionately practice medicine, regain work/life balance, and travel to new places.
“I choose my shifts and locations, which provides me autonomy and allows me to spend more time with my family. Now, I’m back in control of my life and my destiny,” she says.
Flexibility and work/life balance
Doc Nita loves the flexibility of locum tenens and her ability to set her own schedule. “I only accept the times and places I want to work,” she says. “I literally work when I want to and don’t work when I don’t want to.”
For her, that means no nights or weekends.
With the ability to be in charge of your own schedule comes true work/life balance. That, in turn, means Doc Nita has fallen back in love with medicine after feeling burned out for years.
With locum tenens, instead of spending so much time handling staffing crisis and admin tasks, she can spend much of her working time doing what she loves: helping patients.
“I get to practice medicine,” she says with a smile. “When I was burned out, I wasn’t able to see the joy in my work anymore, and I went into medicine to make a difference, to get people well, and to see the joy in people when they’re feeling better. I feel like I’m helping people again.”
She loves practicing in different healthcare settings — and she loves that she can choose not to go back to a certain hospital or healthcare facility if she didn’t like the way it was managed.
Also, she says that now instead of bearing the brunt of the problems, she’s on the receiving end of gratitude.
“Almost every time I leave a shift someone tells me ‘thank you’ because they were going to be overworked without me there. I really feel the appreciation as a locum tenens physician filling in their gaps.”
One of my favorite things about locums (travel medicine) is meeting and working with new people all the time! Meet my APC team at UVMC and a couple of photobombers.
The flexibility of locum tenens has made it easier for Doc Nita to do medical mission work. So far, since she started locum tenens in August 2017, she has helped out in Panama and Costa Rica.
“The missions were eye opening and rewarding,” she shares. “I don’t complain anymore about anything in my life because of it. The people we helped would walk six miles each way to see us. They would leave the day before just so they could see us!”
Sydnee, Doc Nita’s recruiter at GMS, shares in on the joy of witnessing someone so willingly helping others.
“Doc Nita’s passion to help those who otherwise wouldn’t receive medical assistance is unparalleled,” says Sydnee. “When she shares the stories of her time abroad, she oozes with love and passion for the people she served. She speaks of how much these beautiful people have changed her view on life.”
Doc Nita adds, “I look forward to my next mission!”
Living somewhere else like a local
So far, Doc Nita has taken travel assignments in St. Louis, Missouri, and Northern California.
The way locums works is that Global Medical Staffing arranges the travel to the location. The contract also includes medical malpractice insurance and usually housing and transportation as well, with GMS taking care of the logistics, including helping with credentialing, licensing, and privileging before the assignment starts.
When on assignment, Doc Nita makes sure to take time from work to take in the local sights.
“Missouri was a good experience,” she recalls. “I worked with a physician group that was in between management teams, and it was really neat to come to help a solid group of people who had been there for a while but also were in flux. It was a well-run group. And St. Louis was a pretty neat town. It was nice visiting there and learning more about it, seeing the Arches, going to Sweetie Pie’s Restaurant for soul food, and checking out other local places.”
Doc Nita’s next traveling assignment was in Ukiah, California. “The drive to work every day is amazing because it is so beautiful!” she says. “The local culture and tribal people are amazing. The transplants are too — it’s kind of a little melting pot. I tried some local food and wine and then went to the farmers market with all of its local teas. My goal every time I go somewhere is to absorb some of the culture.”
The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas — the largest Buddhist monastery in western society. Travel opportunities are of a hallmark of locum tenens. Where would you like to visit on your next assignment? Let GMS help you get there!
Choose your assignments
Finding the right assignments involves teamwork. As Sydnee puts it, “I partner with Dr. Haugabrook rather than ‘work’ with her. She has made me an equal and has so much trust in me. Her trust in me is at times intimidating and humbling! She has said to me on more than one occasion regarding her transition from her permanent job to locums, ‘Syd, you are a Godsend!’ However, I feel it is the other way around!”
This type of mutually respectful and heartfelt relationship is common between our GMS recruiters and physicians. We want to find you the right assignment that works out for your goals, needs, aspirations, and wanderlust.
Still unsure? Give it a try, says Doc Nita. “You can always try it and then go back to full time if you want. For me, I love locums and am not going back.”
Doc Nita recently took over our Instagram to share her locum tenens adventure in Ukiah, California. Head over to our page to check out her photos right here.
Want to start your own locum tenens adventure? Click the button below to browse our current opportunities. Or just pick up the phone and give us a call.