How to pick your ideal locum placement

The locum market is absolutely booming right now, hospital trusts all over the UK experiencing a shortage of doctors that is threatening the standard of care they provide. Jumping on the job bandwagon and getting involved in locum work could be a very rewarding move for a doctor, as not only will you earn more money per hour to take home, but you will also enjoy increased flexibility and the option to really pick and choose what you want from your work.

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American advice

Hospital trusts may appear to be a bit of a minefield for first time locums, so here is some advice from working locums across the pond about why they choose certain positions…

  • “I prefer hospitals that have more than one doctor on in any 24-hour period. You’ll get more sleep in a programme that’s a bit bigger.” – Dr Philip Paustian from Panama City.
  • “You can find the three or four day assignments, usually in rural areas, but they’re often 24 hour shifts. Those can be brutal.” – Dr Robert Blankenship from Wyoming.
  • “I don’t think I’d volunteer to go into a pressure-cooker environment where I am seeing 25 patients a day and my pager is going off 100 times a day. 80 to 100 beds is the ideal hospital size. What I like is that the consultants can actually sit down and talk with you about a patient in a very constructive way, as opposed to larger hospitals where you might be working with consultants over the phone.” – Dr Eric Kerley from South Carolina.
  • “If the doctors have 18 to 20 patient contacts a day, I am not likely to take the assignment. I look at pay last, but I tend to avoid assignments that pay poorly.” – Dr Stephen P. King from El Dorado.


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What else should you consider?

Factors that you should take into consideration include whether or not you want to work from home. If you have family or social life commitments, you may not want to stray far from your home town – although this can be convenient, it can impact on your pay. If you are prepared to travel for your locum work, then you’ll find more opportunities coming your way, as rural hospitals usually encounter a lack of staff. Travelling could also enable you to see parts of the UK you haven’t been to before and can even act as a bit of a mini break.

You should also think about the kinds of hospitals where you want to work. Do you enjoy being a wheel in the machinery of a thriving and large hospital environment, working with an extensive team of professionals, or do you prefer a smaller tight-knit team that can offer a personal engagement with patients and close relationships with colleagues. Whether you opt for a big or small hospital will also influence your workload and how many patients you see in one day, although this can of course vary greatly depending on circumstance.

The length of your ideal placement should also be taken into account, as you can work ad-hoc days, a week or two, or even a succession of months, so it is entirely up to you how rooted you want to be, or whether you are searching for something super temporary or more long term. This of course can depend on your personal life and the areas or departments you wish to be based in, but it is worth thinking about nonetheless.

Your dedicated recruitment consultant at Total Assist will be able to help you with all of these options and choices, providing you with the pick of the bunch of jobs that are suited to you and your requirements.

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