Physician Provider Stories

Boost your clinical skills with locum tenens

boost your clinical skills with locum tenens - featured image of physician working on professional development

Working locum tenens jobs offers countless personal benefits: flexible scheduling, extra income, and travel opportunities, to name just a few. But there are other far-reaching professional benefits that you may not have considered. You can boost your clinical skills with locum tenens in ways that will make you a more adaptible—and more sought-after—provider.

Kirk Crouser, MD, who has held many positions in the nearly 20 years since he started practicing internal medicine, says turning to locum tenens practice has brought him a number of benefits.

“Throughout the years I have owned my own private practice, worked as medical director of a wound care center, and launched a hospitalist program at a nearby hospital,” recalls Dr. Crouser. “When I got to a point in my life where I just didn’t want to do night shifts anymore, I started working strictly as an ICU hospitalist. But after a few years of that I decided to try locum tenens assignments on the side.”

Since then, Dr. Crouser has become a full-time locum tenens provider, and says accepting temporary contracts has given him so much more than just the flexible scheduling that initially drew him in. Ultimately, he says, locum tenens has helped him to become a better doctor, thanks to the ever-changing patient populations, practice settings, and colleagues he now encounters on a regular basis. And that’s just one of four advantages that stood out in a recent talk we had with Dr. Crouser.

1. Enhanced clinical skills

Locum tenens providers continually increase their knowledge base since they’re frequently facing new challenges in diagnoses and treatments. This was the case for David Thomas, MD, a U.S. Air Force surgeon we featured in a recent Weatherby blog post.

It rings true for Dr. Crouser, as well, who says, “I don’t look for cushy jobs. I enjoy using both hemispheres of my brain and keeping my skills sharp. You can find positions where you wind up referring to specialists all day, but that’s not what interests me. I prefer an assignment in a 100-bed hospital with an open ICU where I get to put in lines, intubate, and do whatever else needs to be done.

2. Increased diversity

Many locum tenens physicians choose to move around the country, taking advantage of the opportunity to alternate between rural and urban counties, affluent and underprivileged neighborhoods, and various geographical settings. Each new place presents its own unique set of patients, ailments, and office practices.

“I had very good diversity training in medical school, so I felt prepared for the cultural differences across the patients I would be seeing. As a locum tenens doc, I have worked in extremely rural areas. Even though that is not what I was used to, I found that I was more comfortable there than in the more upscale areas that were similar to where I grew up. The less money an area seems to have, the more appreciative the patients are to receive the medical care I provide,” says Dr. Crouser.

boost your clinical skills with locum tenens - image of happy physician and patients

3. Expanded network

Along with each new place also comes a new group of colleagues and support staff. Locum tenens providers have the opportunity to work with an ever-changing group of healthcare experts. Working alongside different providers month in and month out, learning what they know while also sharing your knowledge and expertise, ultimately makes a more knowledgeable, well-rounded practitioner, which is attractive to potential employers.

“You meet ten times more people working as a locums provider than you would otherwise. And I’ve stayed in contact with many of the people I’ve worked with. In fact, I’m going out West to visit one next year. You still have meaningful interactions with colleagues when you’re on a temporary contract.”

Furthermore, listing locum tenens contracts on your curriculum vitae (CV) shows employers you are flexible, adaptable, and able to hit the ground running.  Locum tenens physicians often carry with them a wealth of knowledge gleaned from handling different patients and co-workers in various settings all across the country. Excellent people-skills and sharp clinical skills are a must for successful locum tenens providers, which will benefit you, as well as everyone you work with.

4. Less bureaucracy

Fortunately, bureaucratic headaches have no place in the day of a locum tenens provider. “I no longer have to worry about administration, and that is part of why I love locums. I don’t even know who an administrator is in the building. I could smile and wave to the CEO and think he’s the janitor. It’s so liberating not to have to go to meetings.”

In addition to new clinical experiences, locum tenens physicians also reap the benefits of working in different practices and hospitals. First-hand experience with varied policies and procedures may give you ideas for the best ways to handle administrative tasks, such as practice management ideas and staffing approaches. Locum tenens is a powerful way to turn up your personal and professional fulfillment.

About the author

Lisa Daggett

Lisa Daggett is well-versed on the topic of locum tenens staffing and was a regular contributor to LocumLife, Healthcare Traveler, and Travel Nurse magazines. She served as associate editor of RN Magazine and as an editorial assistant for Business & Health.

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