Here at Med Doc, we take a keen interest in each client and candidate we work with. Healthcare jobs and those who provide them whether directly or indirectly, in our opinion, ought to understand how and why people do what they do. So with that in mind, we decided to speak to some of our locum doctors and practice nurses to see why they felt working on a locum or contract basis just worked for them. Surprisingly, we were not surprised by what they had to say.
What attracted you to locum work?
There’s two kinds of people, those who like a routine, working set hours and following a set schedule in their personal life. Others however, like seeing new places and meeting new people as well as spending more time with family. As a locum, the latter couldn’t meet my needs more.
I enjoy exploring small towns and visiting smaller, lesser-known places. But because I work in long-term locum contracts in one fell swoop, I have more time off to spend with my girlfriend and kids. This allows me to travel and cherish the more important things in life, for me anyway. Routine and the way healthcare is structured in most countries across Europe and the world, it is very easy to get institutionalised, you can get disillusioned if you don’t have strong support at home and you’ll burn out fast.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a locum?
There are a lot of advantages if you negate the negatives. It’s good if you have a purpose, like trying to save for a house. You also have more responsibilities and you pick up a lot of new things.
The disadvantages are that you really need to look after your health. After a long day or days, it’s easy to pick up MacDonald’s or on shorter locum placements, you find yourself living out of a a B&B ordering in junk food. But that’s really not good for you in the long run so you need to heed the advice you give.
You also need to look after your mental health. You’re away from your family and friends and you need to build new relationships with new colleagues fast. I think you need to have a purpose or goal.
What surprised you about the nature of locum work?
I love meeting new people. You go to some practices and at first think, why am I going here?! I remember I had a six month locum in Kerry in a place called Cahirsiveen and found that though small, it had a lot of things going on. There was yoga, cycling in amazing scenery and the people were just so refreshing. You get your hits and misses of course, but the experience is different for different people. Maybe if you love steak, you’d like a small town with farming and a big meat factory! Then there’s small towns like Bundoran in Donegal, which is great for surfers.
I love the beach. I love a bit of yoga, cycling and I like small towns with small airports as I enjoy flying planes. I think each town in Ireland has something special about it. Don’t get me wrong Dublin and Cork have their perks to but for me, the countryside has something special and unique about it.
What tips would you give a GP starting locum work?
Before you locum, think about what your passions are. We all have something we’re passionate about but we often easily give up our dreams.
I was a nine-to-five hospital doctor and I began to realise that you shouldn’t compromise your dreams. I’d say that’s the biggest thing I’ve realised this year. I decided to locum for three years for a purpose – to save up money to achieve my dream.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell other GP’s thinking about locum work?
I recommend doctors go with an agency that meets your needs, listen to what you have to say and offers you the work you really want. Med Doc really are excellent and Tom is a genuinely top bloke. I’d certainly consider him a friend and we meet for dinner and pints whenever we’re both free. Tom and his team understand me and they understand how I work. I wouldn’t be the only locum GP who says this about Med Doc, everyone I talk to seems to be very fond of them. I know I’ll be staying with them for the foreseeable future.