Physician Provider Stories

The incredible experiences doctors can have when they take a chance

Man standing in front of metal observatory building

2019 was an exciting year at Weatherby. We sent doctors across the country and around the world. While working locum tenens is always an adventure for physicians, four of our doctors had a particularly exciting year. From Zambia to New Zealand, read on for some inspiration for your 2020 plans!

In a refugee tent in Africa

OB/GYN Dr. Linda Holt worked in private practice for 37 years, but she had always had an eye on working locum tenens. A year ago, she made the leap. Her Weatherby consultant learned that Dr. Holt had served several medical missions to South America, so she invited Dr. Holt to apply for Weatherby’s medical mission trip to Zambia.

Physician standing with a group of people
Dr. Linda Holt in Zambia

Dr. Holt was nervous about making the trip, but she also knew this kind of opportunity doesn’t show up often. When she arrived, she worked with 30 people who were doctors, nurses, dentists, or general volunteers. She spent a day working in a refugee tent, then visited a prison, a few orphanages, and the World Health Centers.

One thing that stood out to Dr. Holt was meeting a nurse whose family had named her after a nurse who had taken care of the family while on a medical mission years before. “You never know how you’re going to impact the people you’re working with,” she says.

Dr. Holt found that her work as a locum tenens doctor prepared her perfectly for the medical mission trip. In just a year of working locums, she had learned how to adapt quickly, work with strangers, and be resourceful.

The differences of locums in the Pacific

Locum tenens physician and woman smile at camera - adventure for physicians
Dr. Frye in Hawaii

This summer, Dr. Jeffrey Frye lived the dream and took a locum tenens job in Hawaii for 12 weeks. Hawaii seems like the ideal adventure for physicians, and in a lot of ways, it is. Dr. Frye watched fishing tournaments from his condo, went on a submarine trip, hiked a volcano, went stargazing, and much more. But Dr. Frye pointed out that his locum tenens work as an OB/GYN in Hawaii was just as much of an adventure as his trips outside of work. He found the islands have a lot of cultural and infrastructural differences from his other assignments. 

For example, his patients were much more relaxed than his patients on the mainland. They also take a more natural approach — in Atlanta, 95 percent of his patients would ask for epidurals. In Hawaii, a lot more mothers choose a natural delivery. And, because Hawaii is broken into islands, he says it’s difficult to move around the state. Most of the medical facilities are focused in Honolulu, so in Kona, where he worked, he had to be more resourceful.

Caring for patients in Middle-Earth

In addition to working locums assignments in the U.S. for Weatherby, ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Nielson has had the opportunity to work two different locum tenens assignments in New Zealand through Weatherby’s sister company Global Medical Staffing. He loved how welcoming and supportive the other physicians and staff were, and how closely the medical teams worked together. 

For his most recent assignment, he was based in Hastings, a small town on the north island of New Zealand. Hastings offered some of the best of New Zealand, from surfing, to world-class wineries, Maori history, and beautiful art deco and Spanish Mission architecture. He also got to meet people from across the world, as lots of expats settle in New Zealand. 

One surprise when he first arrived in New Zealand: “I had to always remember to drive on the left,” he says. “There was even a sign in the rental car ‘Keep Left’.”

Two people stand in front of trail sign
Dr. Paul Nielson and his wife in New Zealand

Saving lives in the south-west desert

Dr. Katharine Altieri is an emergency medicine doctor who works a full-time position as well as locum tenens assignments. She has found that you don’t have to go overseas to find adventure as a physician. She lives and practices in Tucson, but she takes locum tenens jobs in rural areas of Arizona. On these jobs, she primarily serves Mexican immigrants and people living on the Native American reservations. 

Many of her patients don’t speak English, so she has worked to learn Spanish and rely on interpreters. She has also navigated cultural differences — once, she was helping to deliver a baby at a Native American reservation, and the family requested that she be as uninvolved as possible, and they spread white sage ashes around the room. Dr. Altieri explained that as long as her patients’ requests are medically safe, she does her best to accommodate them.

“What I enjoy is that I feel like I’m doing what I think I’ve been put on this earth to do: medicine and to help people, said Dr. Altieri. “I think it can have a huge impact on not just the patient but their families. In these situations, it can really, really make a difference in people’s lives.”

Take a chance

Locum tenens jobs are often a leap of faith — you’ll find yourself discovering new cultures and ways of life, and you’ll have to adapt quickly in order to give your patients the best care. But any locum tenens assignment can be deeply rewarding.

Want to experience a locum tenens adventure for physicians either domestically or abroad? Give us a call at 954.343.3050 or view today’s locum tenens job opportunities. If you’re interested in medical missions, talk to your Weatherby consultant; we’re already planning our medical missions for 2020!

About the author

Kathleen Stone

Kathleen Stone is a writer for Weatherby Healthcare from Salt Lake City, Utah. In her spare time, she loves going to the desert, trying new foods and being with family.