It was his wife’s idea that David Bosch look into career alternatives for PAs. “It’s time for a change,” she finally said. “Why don’t you try travel?”
Although he loved his work, the cardiovascular/cardiothoracic surgery PA wasn’t happy in his current position. One by one, his coworkers had left for other jobs until he was the only one left with the surgeon. His wife’s suggestion, along with the positive impressions he’d had of the locum tenens PAs he’d worked with over the years, helped him make the decision to take the leap.
“In Myrtle Beach we had locums come in for two and a half years. Before that in Greenville, NC, we were chronically short of people, so we had locums in there as well,” David says. Many of them told David he should take his skillset on the road.
Following the advice
In the past, acting upon others’ advice had served David well. When he left the Army, medicine was suggested as a good career fit for him. He liked the idea even though “I’d already spent more than 10 years in the Army, so I was a little behind my peers. I thought I was too old to go to medical school. I decided it would be better to take the PA route.”
When he started seriously looking at career alternatives for PAs, David googled “PA locums,” and found Weatherby Healthcare. “I had spoken with people at the other agencies, and there was a delay getting things from this person or that person.” But his Weatherby consultant, Holly, gave him immediate responses. In addition, he says, “She was upfront on what we could expect financially. She asked me every day, ‘What can I do to help?’ She made the transition smooth, probably the best transition I’ve ever had. It was that extra care that helped me choose Weatherby.”
The appeal of locum tenens
David is now in Kansas City, Missouri, on his first locums assignment, where he’s scheduled to be until December. Kansas City wasn’t a place he knew well, but he took the job because it felt like a good fit. “I told Holly, I don’t care where you put me, I just want to be busy. I’m of the mindset that you work hard, you put your time in, and then when you’re off — which is the beauty of this whole thing — when you’re off, you’re done. There’s nobody to call you and ask you questions, you are just off.”
Locums has been satisfying for David in other ways. “I don’t have to be part of day-to-day politics. I am somewhere I’m appreciated and needed. It’s not ‘Justify my existence every five minutes,’ which I was feeling before. The people I work with here appreciate me. This has been an excellent first assignment.”
The COVID effect
Having been a PA for 15 years, David usually knew what to expect in healthcare settings. But when his first locums assignment happened to coincide with the COVID-19 outbreak in Missouri, he was surprised by what didn’t happen.
The pandemic patient load wasn’t torrential, he says. “We had one to two COVID patients my entire time here. As far as the effect of COVID, our OR start times are a little slower, as bringing in patients is slower because of all the testing.”
He recognizes that patients still worry, and he considers that “part healthy fear, part irrational fear” since the coronavirus wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been at his location. Patients fresh from surgery are now allowed one visitor at a time within limited hours. The medical staff wears protective gear. Welcome to the new normal to which everyone, he says, will adapt to very quickly.
But COVID did affect his work schedule, which was originally three weeks on, one week off. With state travel restrictions mandating a two-week self-quarantine, David and his wife decided he’d stay put in Kansas City, and she’d occasionally visit him when she could. Subsequently, he works more hours and volunteers to take call just to help out the team he’s come to feel part of.
Changing plans for the future
Locums has impacted David’s life in many ways, even his plans for the future.
“I don’t ever plan on going back to a tied-down job,” says the PA. “My father told me every job is a step to another, and I think that locums is the epitome of that. I plan on doing locums until I retire. It isn’t too far into the future but far enough that I have a plan. When there are more heart surgeons younger than me standing in the room, I know It’s time to think about it.”