My Locum Tenens Experience: Finding the Cure for Physician Burnout

July 9th, 2015 4 Min read My Locum Tenens Experience: Finding the Cure for Physician Burnout Blog
[caption id="attachment_6200" align="alignright" width="300"]DrGeraghty Dr. Madeleine Geraghty[/caption] More and more physicians are feeling disengaged. In fact, 46 percent of physicians say they’re experiencing burnout, which pays a toll on their health and quality of life. For neurologist Dr. Madeleine Geraghty, the cure for her burnout was simple — work locum tenens assignments.

Remedying Burnout

From an early age, Dr. Geraghty wanted to be a neurologist, but after years of medical training and then serving as the medical director for one of the biggest stroke programs in Washington, burnout quickly crept in. “I needed a break, and I needed to take a step back and spend some more time with my family,” Dr. Geraghty shares. “And I knew I needed something different if I was going to keep practicing medicine.” She was introduced to locum tenens during her time as a medical director, where she screened the traveling physicians working in her department. “I had a lot vested in making sure the physicians we brought in were of a quality that could keep my program going,” she says. “Many of the locum tenens physicians I had interacted with told me how they had burned out or had felt overwhelmed with the lifestyle of a traditional job. The locums lifestyle gave them the freedom to move about and to choose their own schedules. Many of them talked about how much time they were able to spend with their families and how much more relaxed they felt. When I kept hearing how the lifestyle was conducive to personal space, relaxation in between assignments and just being able to take that deep breath, it made me think about trying it for myself, and I have never regretted it.”

More Time with Family

Working full-time locum tenens assignments not only helped Dr. Geraghty fight burnout, it also gave her more time with her family. “Even though I travel more with locum tenens, it seems as though I am gone less,” she remarks. “When I’m gone, I’m gone. But when I’m home, I’m very mentally and emotionally with my children. I wasn’t that way before. Working locums allows me to be with my children more and not halfway with them like I was previously.” RELATED: My Locum Tenens Experience: Flexibility and Time for Family

More Time with Patients

In addition to giving her more family time, Dr. Geraghty says locum tenens provides her more time with patients. “The times I feel the most like I’m a doctor are when I’ve actually had sixty to ninety minutes to sit in a patient’s room and explain exactly why they really need to make a lifestyle change and go over all the different ways they’ve tried before and which way is going to be the most successful for them this time,” she shares. “I walk out of the room not feeling rushed, knowing that this time they really are going to make changes. It’s a quiet feeling, and that’s when I feel like a doctor.”

Becoming a Better Doctor

Dr. Geraghty has been surprised by the numerous benefits of working locum tenens assignments, but one benefit really stands out.

“I think one of the nicest surprises for me about working locums was the reminder that there is more than one way to do things,” she remarks. “When you stay at one place for a long time, you get used to doing things one way. You get used to doing things the same way over and over again until it just becomes habit, and you don’t realize that you’ve been stuck in a rut.”

RELATED: My Locum Tenens Experience: Using Part-Time Assignments to Improve a Full-Time Job The different locum tenens experiences have given her the opportunity to learn new techniques and look at things from a different perspective, ultimately helping her to become an even better doctor. “I didn’t know I was going to get that experience from locums, and that actually is the thing that I like most,” she says. “It’s the reason why, even though I’ve accepted a permanent position elsewhere, I continue to do locum tenens assignments.” Dr. Geraghty also enjoys the opportunity to share her knowledge with other physicians at the different facilities she’s assigned to. “I’m taking some of my knowledge base to each assignment, bringing a little bit more than was there before,” she shares. “I’ve started to do some teaching when I’m working locums and did a lecture at one of my last assignments that was very serendipitous. That’s more than just doing shift work. That’s actually contributing to the medical community, and I like that.”


Elizabeth Cornwall

Elizabeth Cornwall

Liz is a communications manager based in Salt Lake City. For more than a decade, she’s done a little bit of everything in the communications world — from writing about locum tenens and travel nursing, to working as an executive speech writer, to becoming a social media influencer in the world of micro goldendoodles.

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