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Three Times That Locum Tenens Makes Sense for Physicians

National Locum Tenens Week (August 12-16) celebrates the work that 40,000 doctors do each year to ensure patients get the care they need. Whether they're working an extra weekend a month in a nearby town or spending six months on the other side of the country, physicians who work locum tenens find it fulfilling for all sorts of reasons. If you've ever thought about working locums, there are certain times in your career when it can be especially beneficial.

Read about three physicians who are using locum tenens to reach both their personal and professional goals:

Finding Your Path After Residency

After completing her residency, Dr. Kimberly Atiyeh wanted to explore her options without getting locked into a contract. When she heard about locums, she thought it was a great opportunity to explore her options while looking for a full-time position. "It really allowed me to relax and be patient in finding the right opportunity," she says.

While working on her locums assignment, Dr. Atiyeh was able to make a difference in the lives of her patients while also having the flexibility to travel and spend time with loved ones. She eventually accepted a permanent medical director position.

While she's currently happy in her role, Dr. Atiyeh is glad to know that locums will always be an option for her in the future. "If I ever get to a point in my life where I'm feeling burned out, knowing that locums is something that I've done in the past, that I've really enjoyed, that has its own merits, seems like a great option to have."

Increasing Your Income

Dr. Stanley Green is a hospitalist who eventually wants to practice medicine in his home country of South Africa. He's worked locums exclusively since his graduation in 2016 and says he earns 25-35% more than what he'd make in a more traditional full-time position.

Dr. Green knows that physicians in South Africa earn less than those in the United States. "The kind of money I'd make in South Africa would never enable me to pay off my student loans," he says. Working locums is helping him pay off his loans faster and getting him closer to his goal of giving back in South Africa.

"With the flexibility and money I earn working locums, I envision that I'll stay with locums for some part of the year and live in both places, maybe working three to four months in the States. Then with the money I earn here I can facilitate living the rest of the year in South Africa and getting paid little or nothing." 

Reconnecting with Your Passions

After 14 years working as an obstetrician-gynecologist in the same hospital, Dr. Jacqueline Brown needed a break. She ended up quitting her job and spending a year traveling and scuba diving—two activities that she'd had trouble finding the time for when she worked full-time.

When Dr. Brown returned after a year away, she decided against signing a new full-time contract. She now works locum tenens assignments three or four months at a time before taking a month off to pursue her passions.

"The locum tenens lifestyle gives me the freedom and flexibility I need," says Dr. Brown. "I use locum tenens assignments as a way to explore new areas of the country. I really like outdoor activities, such as hiking and biking, so being in areas that have wilderness is ideal."

Dr. Brown plans to continue working locums for at least the next ten years. "I love my life now. I find my work rewarding again, and I have time away from work for the things I enjoy."

Whether you're just starting in your career or a seasoned physician looking for a change, locum tenens might be just what your career needs.

Article Originally Published on ACOG Career Connection