Pros and Cons of Locum Doctor Work

Written by: Eyvonne Barrett

There are over 70,000 doctors working in Australia at the moment. These cover a huge number of roles, from GPs to specialists to hospital consultants.

This is probably why the health care industry remains Australia’s biggest employer. But working as a doctor is infamously inflexible and demanding of your time. That is, of course, unless you’re working as a locum doctor!

Locum doctor agencies offer you the opportunity to practice medicine without becoming tied to one job or one location. But to really understand what this job entails, you need to take a look at the pros and cons of locum work.

In that case, you’re in the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about working as a locum.

What is a Locum Doctor?

Locum doctor jobs involve covering for doctors at hospitals, clinics or other facilities around the country.

This cover work might just last a couple of days or they may stretch over weeks. But unlike contracted work, they won’t lock you into working in one place.

Often a locum will cover when someone is unwell or on a fixed leave. Or they might cover a period of time while there is a job vacancy at a hospital.

This means that working as a locum is kind of like working freelance. You simply pick the jobs, hours and schedules that work for you. And you can do this full time or part-time depending on how much you want to work.

So let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of locum doctor working conditions.

Pro: It Creates Variety in Your Professional Life

Picking up different locum jobs means that you don’t have to stay in one place for a long period of time.

This means that you can try out different areas of work. One week you might be working in a hospital and the next you might be working in General Practice. So you’ll never feel bored.

This also means that if you aren’t sure what type of work you want to do, you can test out different environments. You don’t have to continue working as a locum forever. If you find an area you really enjoy, then you might want to start looking for a permanent position in this area but working locum doctor agencies can help you make that decision.

Pro: It Offers Flexibility

Working in a permanent position can be great but it often comes with a lot of constraints.

Doctors on permanent contracts have to fit in with rotas and they only get a certain amount of annual leave. On top of this, if they want to take leave then the hospital or clinic has to approve this well in advance. But locum doctors aren’t ruled by such strict rules.

If you want to take time off between jobs then you can do. Or if you want to relocate you can easily do this without having to work out a notice period. This is great news for any traveling doctors.

In addition to this, most locum doctors can also decide the hours they want to work before taking up a position. And it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have to do any overtime.

Pro: It Can Help You Financially

Often workplace flexibility comes at the cost of financial stability but this isn’t the case when it comes to a locum doctor salary.

The pay rates often match those of permanent contract doctors. And you’ll get paid more regularly when working as a locum, which helps you to work flexibly.

In addition to this, you don’t run up any overhead costs while working as a locum. Financial responsibility for a clinic or hospital department won’t be left in the hands of a locum doctor.

Because locum work offers you flexibility, some people also use it to supplement another fixed-term job. This is a great way to add a little money to the kitty without over-complicating your professional life.

Cons: It Doesn’t Guarantee Stability

What some people see as flexibility, others might think of as instability.

More often than not, locum work won’t be difficult to find. And working with an agency is a great way to maintain a steady flow of work. But there may be periods when things are quieter and you have to cast your net wider to find work.

This may mean that you have to work somewhere further away from your home. Moving about might not be a problem for everyone. In fact, some people relish the opportunity to live somewhere new but this doesn’t mean that the lifestyle’s for everyone.

For anyone with a family, this might make locum work less appealing. It may mean that you have to spend periods of time away from your family or friends while working. So it’s important to consider the length of a locum contract before signing up to this.

Cons: You Might Not Get to Pick Which Area You Work in

As well as having to compromise on the geography of your work, there may be times when you have to take on a job you aren’t wild about.

If work is thin on the ground then it may be a case of picking any job going. And if you really enjoy one position then you also have to make peace with the fact that you won’t be doing it for a long time. If you would find this frustrating then locum work might not be the job for you.

On the plus side, when you’re a locum everything is short term. So you won’t ever feel stuck doing something you don’t enjoy for a long period of time.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for flexible work or want to try out different areas of medicine then working as a locum doctor might be the job for you! For help finding locum work and permanent positions, get in touch today. We’re here to help.

Chat with us about your next locum doctor job.