Once you have decided that you are going to work as a locum doctor, before you can begin booking in placements, it’s important to get organised and have a plan of action of how you want to tackle locum work. Here are some key things you should consider once you agree to a career as a locum doctor.
1) Where do you want to work?
Initially it may be quite helpful to work in an area or hospital where you have worked before or trained as you then won’t have to find your feet as quickly and the settling in process will be shorter. This way you will also have a basic knowledge of the local healthcare needs of your patients as well as any computer systems. Alternatively, you can consider placements further from home, but you may have to do more research beforehand.
2) How do you view your locum career?
Working as a locum, you still have opportunities to develop and progress your career to suit you. Thinking about what experiences you want to gain from your placements and what you hope to achieve can give you an idea of what to look for and how to plan your schedule. For example, whether you would prefer a long or short term placement.
Never underestimate the importance of networking and making professional contacts, as they usually always come in handy. Especially so in locum work, where your reputation may be discussed by word of mouth and having good relationships could ensure you get booked in for a placement or gain an extension on your post.
4) Maintain your documents
Keeping an up to date single folder with all your necessary documentation is very good prep work for beginning a locum career. Paperwork such as your latest CV, references and Hep B status should all be tidied away in one place safely, also with an electronic copy available in case you need to email it.
5) What is the hospital like?
Before applying for certain positions, it is always worth doing a spot of research on the hospital in question. For example, you may need to bring certain equipment with you if you have it, or you might want to brush up on different computer skills. Your Recruitment Consultant may have some information passed on from the hospital trust or from past experiences, but you may want to bulk up your knowledge to be more prepared, especially for a longer placement.
6) Get organised
Get yourself a decent diary system and start planning. A lot of places will book locum doctors in a couple of months in advance so you need to be aware of when you want to work and when you want to take leave. Make sure you are available when you say you are, as if you end up cancelling then you are unlikely to get booked by that trust again. You will still be able to pick up some last minute ad-hoc days working but this tends to depend on your specialty. Your Recruitment Consultant will be able to help you with this.
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