What are the benefits of switching to locum shifts?

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Surgical theatre manager Rob Maskell explains why he decided to work locum

Although the benefits of becoming a locum doctor are well documented, it can be nerve wracking ditching the stability of a crisp permanent contract and a single workplace environment for a completely different kind of working culture. If itchy feet or the yearn for change are making you consider locum work, don’t worry, you aren’t the only one eager to switch up the norm to accept new career opportunities.

As a registered operating department practitioner, 52 year old Rob Maskell was well aware of the advantages of locum life, as he hired a number of them during the course of his career at an independent hospital. Working with a mix of surgical, anaesthetic and theatre nursing teams meant that hiring additional hands on deck was sometimes called for. Despite loving his job, Mr Maskell began to think more seriously about locum work once he found his day job impacting too much on his home life.

“I was thinking about work 24/7; I’d wake up at 3.30am thinking about it. I was a bit jealous of the locums. They did seem a wee bit more careful. Plus I really wanted to be working directly with patients again. It really fires you up, gets the adrenaline going – I love the job,” he confessed to the Health Service Journal.

Making the locum switch

After seeing the flexible locum lifestyle firsthand, Mr Maskell decided to ditch the stress of a pen pushing permanent position and instead adopt temporary locum placements, so that he could return to his career priorities of treating patients, as well as creating a better home / work balance for the sake of his health.

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Once starting locum shifts, Mr Maskell remains enthusiastic about how rewarding it is as a medical career option. Not being tethered to one workplace is one advantage which Mr Maskell sees as a fantastic learning experience. “Working across theatres in different hospitals gives me the chance to maintain and enhance my skills in a wide variety of theatre settings,” he explains.

Being able to showcase his skills across hospitals also has plus points for employers, believes Mr Maskell, as they can then reap the benefits of getting a fresh and motivated viewpoint on their current working schemes. Keen to maintain their reputations and hone their skills, locum doctors are the ideal injection into a lagging workforce. Although accepting jobs in a variety of locations, Mr Maskell has been mainly working for the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading for the past five years. “Obviously it helps when you know the people and you know the layout.”

Locum lifestyle

Since taking a step back from management, hospital politics have also become a thing of the past, much to Mr Maskell’s relief. “I think too that as a locum, you’re less embroiled in the politics of a place, and every workplace has politics.” Maintaining this independence means you are less likely to have work on the brain when you head home, and causes less conflicts whilst working as well.

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Although locum work can be a positive option for doctors themselves, Mr Maskell emphasises the importance of the locum workforce in general, applauding the flexibility they can provide hospitals. “The beauty of it from the employer’s point of view is that if they know they will suddenly be two theatres down then they can turn off the tap. It’s efficient for them to be able to do this.”

Without set working hours, some doctors may worry about making up full time hours through locum work, although Mr Maskell disagrees, as he puts in approximately 48 hours per week, and has rarely struggled to achieve this over the six years he has worked as a locum professional. Despite the long shifts, locum work has also enabled Mr Maskell to regain his home life and leisure time. “I’m not saying I don’t think about work when I get home, but it’s easier to switch off now; home is a different world, and I can be relaxed there,” he says.

Increased flexibility, dumping hospital politics and admin as well as a better home / work balance are all excellent reasons why a career as a locum doctor may tempt you, the current staffing shortage guaranteeing that you will not be out of work or left out of pocket – especially since locum doctors tend to earn a higher rate of pay per hour too. Being able to cater your career to your needs is incredibly unique, so why not register with Total Assist Group today to see how going locum can work for you?


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