Industry Highlight and Job Description: Emergency Medicine Locums

Written by: Eyvonne Barrett

Emergency medicine demands long, odd hours from all its staff. It’s the hallmark of the practice: car accidents, heart attacks, and other emergencies don’t sleep. So you don’t either.

Unless you join the growing number of doctors who choose to become emergency medicine locums.

Emergency medicine doctors find that working as an emergency medicine locum changes their life. You control your schedule, including both where and when you work. When you begin to feel burnt out, you can take time off. And given the calling, there’s always work to return to.

What is it like to work as a locum tenens doctor? Here’s what you should know.

What Does Locum Tenens Mean?

Locum tenens doctors are those who pick up the slack in hospitals or clinics who need extra help.

Locum tenens is actually a Latin phrase that means “place holder.” And place holder best describes what these roles do.

When you sign on with a doctor locum agency, you might:

Fill in for a regular doctor who is absent
Help a short-staffed team
Move to pressure areas or organizations

The role helps three groups: hospitals and clinics who need extra help but who don’t have funds for long-term staff benefit from locums; the teams at those clinics benefit because they are better able to provide safer care without overextending themselves; finally, patients benefit from shorter wait times and a more balanced staff.

What Are the Benefits for Emergency Medicine Locums?

The benefits for doctors who become emergency medicine locums broadly fall into two categories: scheduling and experience.

Each benefit is multi-faceted, and like the job itself, it can mean different things for each doctor, depending on where you are in life and your career.

Flexible Scheduling

When you are a emergency medicine locum, you aren’t subject to a hospital administration’s schedule or whims. You do need to adhere to the plan you choose, but you get to select the calendar for yourself.

For example, you can choose to work six shifts in a row at one hospital and then take a week off to recover.

You also have more flexibility to plan your time off, which most doctors only dream of. When you plan up to three months in advance, you can take time off for special events like weddings, birthdays, holidays, and even busy times in your family’s life. There’s no need to beg with an administrator or hope that someone can switch shifts with you.

Scheduling flexibility doesn’t just refer to time off. When you are getting ready for big expenses, like your children’s university tuition, you can pick part-time locum assignments to add to your full-time position. It can help you earn more without spending even more hours in your home facility.

New and More Experience

The second benefit of locums agreements is the experience it offers.

When you choose a locums job, you can work in different environments and facilities and learn more about the nuances of emergency medicine. For example, you could select a locums job in a:

Academic hospital
Acute care facility
Children’s hospital
Correctional facility
Critical access hospital
Emergency department (free-standing)
doctor group

Working in emergency medicine in a children’s hospital differs completely from working in a correctional facility or academic hospital. Because you aren’t tied into a contract, you can try what appeals to you and leave behind facilities that aren’t a good fit for your personality or skills.

In addition to these new professional experiences, you can also embark on new personal adventures. You may need to travel to a new place to take on the assignment. This is a great way to test out a place that you have always wanted to see or even where you might want to live without committing to it for a year or more.

Because locum assignments allow you to fill in, you might find yourself with the option to work in far-flung parts of Australia or New Zealand.

You can also try out states and regions where emergency medicine locums earn the highest salaries or enjoy a significantly lower cost of living.

Travel, Salary, and More: Working as Emergency Medicine Locums

Working as an emergency medicine locum means upending your life every few months. You travel, visit new facilities, and meet new colleagues.

Fortunately, much of this is taken care of for you.

The facilities that need locums take care of everything: your travel, accommodation, and your salary.

Indeed, emergency medicine locums can earn significantly more per hour than full-time physicians, particularly those who are still early in their career. Though, the most senior specialist consultant still tend to earn the most.

Of course, this means that although hospitals are grateful for your service, they’re keen not to keep you on for longer than necessary.

This also means that you don’t benefit from job stability as your temporary employer can cancel the contract on short notice, which they do if they can find a new permanent (and less expensive) doctor to fill the role.

Are You Ready to Make a Change?

Once you complete your general medical registration, a whole new world opens up to you. If you specialise in emergency medicine, then you can choose to work as an emergency medicine locums doctor and travel the country while providing essential care.

To get there, you need to find the perfect locums agency. To learn more about becoming an emergency medicine locum and the opportunities available to you right now, get in touch with us today.

Chat with us about your next locum doctor job.