Working locums is a great option for doctors in transitional career stages: young physicians fresh out of residency, those needing to fill a gap between full-time positions, or when transitioning to retirement. The pay is great, the opportunities are endless, and you have complete control over your schedule. But is it possible to balance a permanent, full-time position and work locum tenens jobs on the side? Here are three doctors who have made it work, and love the extra income and benefits that come from working locum tenens with a full-time job.
Keeping it sharp
With a spouse, five kids, two dogs, and a full-time job in rhinology and cranial base surgery, otolaryngologist Dr. Tom Willson was unsure whether working locum tenens would be the right fit for him, personally or professionally. After a friend recommended CompHealth to him, he spoke to a recruiter and learned that locum tenens could be as much — or as little — as he wanted. His recruiter tracks down jobs that fit his needs and he can dismiss the ones that don’t. And with his recruiter taking care of all the travel arrangements and providing an itinerary, Dr. Willson doesn’t have to worry about anything until he’s ready to start the locums job.
Dr. Willson has also found another benefit. Because he typically works in a subspecialty of otolaryngology, working locum tenens allows him to see a broader scope of patients and cases. “Locums gives me that opportunity to do some of the things I don’t do as regularly and keep my skills sharp,” says Willson.
Moonlighting in a different area
Pediatrician Dr. Ravi Pujara takes locum tenens jobs to broaden his horizons and help keep his skills sharp as well. “I work with CompHealth because right now I’m an urgent care pediatric physician,” he says. “And unless I work with CompHealth, it’s very difficult for me to get put into hospitalist jobs, which I still want to keep up my skills.”
He enjoys the extra income that it helps generate, even though it requires a little extra effort on his part to make it happen. “It’s difficult, I’m not going to lie,” he admits. “Whenever you have a permanent job that’s your primary responsibility. The more flexible your permanent job is the more likely you are able to do moonlighting locums.”
He views working locums just like working any kind of moonlighting job. “Locums is just another opportunity to moonlight in a different area, make a little extra money, and then see a different part of the country that you otherwise wouldn’t.”
Hospitalist Dr. John Thieszen started supplementing his income by working locum tenens while he was a full-time physician for the U.S. Air Force. He is now an independent contractor and continues working locum tenens with a full-time job. He describes his planning process: “It actually works out fantastic. As long as I can get my schedule planned out far enough in advance — three or four months in advance — then whatever time I have left, I can give to locums.”
Instead of complicating his life, Dr. Thieszen asserts that working locums has improved his overall work/life balance. “Yeah, there’s extra planning that goes in, and you have to be state credentialed or licensed in different places, but as a whole, you also avoid a lot of the headaches that most physicians have to deal with,” he explains. “When I’m at the job location, I don’t have to be doing lots of the regular hassle. It definitely contributes to a better work/life balance for me.”
Working locum tenens with a full-time job isn’t for everyone, but the flexibility and wide-variety of locums opportunities can make it worthwhile, especially if you are looking to keep your skills sharp while making a little extra income on the side.