Have you got what it takes to be a great locum?

With Ireland’s medical system increasingly reliant on skilled locum doctors and healthcare professionals, we have a wealth of interesting and rewarding locum, permanent and contract healthcare jobs currently available at Med Doc. But it takes a special type of doctor or nurse to take up locum work. Have you got what it takes? We’ve put together our top five questions to help you find out.

1)     Do you love meeting new people?

With many locum contracts lasting only a few days or weeks at the most, you need to be comfortable meeting new people. You also need to engage with the wider medical practice or hospital community to ensure your locum is a success.

Dr Charlie Lewis, a GP & Occupational Specialist who is a regular Med Doc locum doctor, offers the following advice. “Always introduce yourself to the local doctors and staff, be open and approachable and get involved with the hospital community. If you treat your locum with the respect you would afford a permanent position, people will go out of their way to help you,” he says.

2)     Are you adaptable and flexible?

Whether you’re in a hospital system or private practice, adapting to new work environments and integrating with new teams quickly is also essential as a locum doctor. You also need to be flexible as role requirements can sometimes change due to unexpected situations.

“Get yourself mentally ready for lots of interesting travel, time away from home, adapting quickly to different circumstances and working with people you’ve never met before,” says experienced Triage Nurse Judy Cody.

3)     Are you keen to use a wide range of skills?

As a locum doctor or nurse, you’re also expected to be able to practice a diverse range of medical skills. In fact, locum work is great at reconnecting you with the front-line medical skills you used to enjoy when you started your career.

Locum GP Dave Sheehan has completed over 50 locums in both regional and remote locations and has found the whole experience extremely rewarding.

“As a locum doctor, you will almost certainly have to treat very sick patients, either in the Urgent Care or under your care. Most remote clinics don’t have the facilities or collegial support that you may be used to, so some knowledge of acute care medicine is essential,” he says.

Locum GP Dr Tim Sheehan agrees and recommends updating your ER skills if you’re considering remote locum work. “I would recommend you start attending a few emergency courses to update your airway skills and initial trauma and life support management. Work a couple of shifts per week in your local emergency department and just get stuck into it,” he says.

4)     Are you ready for an adventure?

If you’re open to exploring new locations, a locum role in a regional or remote area offers a whole world of new adventures. And some of our best roles are found in areas least expected. For GP and Medical Director, Dr Andrew Porter, West Cork is his preferred locum location.

And his most interesting locum job to date?

“I would have to say Rathkeale, with its amazing variety of clinical workload, significant local capacity for dealing with more complex patients and great colleagues. The town is dripping with great colonial architecture. Oh, and they have serious parties over the Christmas period. I had a patient who invited me to one of the locally renowned Christmas get-togethers, alas to say, I will remember it for quite some time to come.

“Outlying medical clinics in rural communities also provide a very emotionally rewarding experience.”

5)     Do you want to make a real difference?

And finally, the very nature of locum work means you’re providing an essential service. Without locum doctors, many regional and rural communities would be without adequate medical care. You will be making a positive impact on everyday lives and supporting a service that’s in real need.

For Dr Sheehan, working in remote locations has been challenging, but ultimately rewarding. “There’s a great feeling of satisfaction when you manage to assist a patient with limited resources and everyone is so happy with the outcome. You feel like a real doctor using basic skills to deal with some complicated cases,” he says.