My Locum Tenens Story: From the Grand Canyon to Guam

March 31st, 2014 2 Min read My Locum Tenens Story: From the Grand Canyon to Guam Blog
DrAndersonDr. Thomas Anderson has always been thirsty for adventure. When he couldn’t earn a living teaching college with his Ph.D. in theoretical physics, Dr. Anderson went back to school for his medical degree. He was unsure what to do next — until a Navy recruiter found him the day he graduated. “The recruiter said, ‘I can make it possible for you to practice medicine in the morning and fly jets in the afternoon,’” Dr. Anderson recalls. “I said, ‘Where do I sign?’” The board-certified family practitioner earned his wings as a Navy flight surgeon and later worked in the Marine Corps. After spending six years of retirement as an ER doctor in the Virgin Islands, he decided it was time for a new adventure. That’s when he began working locum tenens with CompHealth, taking assignments ranging from in-the-trenches community health clinics to exotic locales many doctors never experience. One such assignment was at the Havasupai Indian Reservation, a village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon accessible only by helicopter and horseback. “You are expected to be on-call day and night at the reservation, so many times I would get called out into the desert at 2 in the morning for some emergency,” Dr. Anderson says. “I would jump into my little four-wheeled Kawasaki Mule and go charging out through the desert, bouncing over the rocks and up the sides of the canyon until I found where I was going.” Though it wasn’t nearly as remote as his assignment in the Grand Canyon, Dr. Anderson also enjoyed his time at the Teton Valley Ranch Camp in Jackson, Wyoming, a month-long program for teens and tweens. “My wife, a nurse-midwife, joined me, and we had our own cabin while we were taking care of the boys attending camp. It was a beautiful part of the world. I’d tell anybody who likes the outdoors, cowboys and horses that it’s a great place to go.” Dr. Anderson, whose CompHealth representative has agreed to call him first “when something odd comes up,” also spent a month in Guam at a clinic run by United Airlines, caring for pilots, flight attendants and their families. And he hasn’t left his sea legs behind, either. Locum tenens assignments give Dr. Anderson and his wife the flexibility to volunteer with Project HOPE, an international organization that deploys each year on Navy hospital ships to help developing countries in need. After so many varied locum tenens assignments, Dr. Anderson’s next aspiration is out-of-this-world — literally. “I’d love to work at the International Space Station,” he says. “Astronauts work about 18 hours a day and have very bizarre flight schedules and sleep schedules, so I’m sure there is plenty to do. I have big plans for that trip.” While Dr. Anderson’s assignments have been particularly unconventional, he encourages those interested in locum tenens to have the same sense of adventure. “There are so many assignments out there that you can go virtually anywhere in the country for a few weeks to a few months,” Dr. Anderson says. “There’s really nothing else in the world that offers that.”

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Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a communication professional with experience writing for the healthcare and entertainment industries as well as local government. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.

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