Dr. Jeanine Ricca has always been passionate about women’s health and serving communities in need, but an adverse workplace experience nearly caused her to walk away from medicine entirely. Through her work as a locum tenens OB/GYN, however, she was able to rediscover the love she had for her patients and her profession. As one of the recipients of Weatherby’s Locum Tenens of the Year award for 2022, Dr. Ricca isn’t afraid to sing the praises of the locum tenens lifestyle and recognizes how it has impacted her career.
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Following her calling
When Dr. Ricca was young, she saw her own pediatrician — a mother who had a successful career as a doctor and who was also able to provide for her family — as an inspiration. At the beginning of her medical career, Dr. Ricca spent 15 years as a physician’s assistant working in emergency medicine, until a lack of appreciation for her skills fueled her to apply to med school. During residency, she came to love her OB/GYN rotation much more than she anticipated and ultimately chose that as her specialty. “No one was more surprised that I was,” she jokes. Dr. Ricca cites the diversity of procedures, the connection with patients, and the fast pace of the office as reasons she loves being an OB/GYN.
Rekindling her love for medicine
A major change in leadership during her first full-time contract led to a rough start in Dr. Ricca’s OB/GYN career and left her wondering if she wanted to stop practicing medicine entirely. But a couple years ago, while she was deciding whether she wanted to continue in the field, she accepted her first locum tenens OB/GYN role. “I fell back in love with practicing medicine. I’m 100% happy that I made the decision to try locums.”
Finding a niche
Dr. Ricca prefers assignments in rural areas, as that is where she feels most at home, while finding her impact more far-reaching than other assignments. “I like working in critical access areas where OB/GYNs are really needed and in demand,” she says. “Many physicians don’t feel comfortable working where they don’t have the support system that they’re used to in larger facilities.” Since Dr. Ricca began practicing in a smaller hospital, she feels at ease in that environment.
She also enjoys sharing her knowledge with staff who may not be exposed to newer techniques on a regular basis. Dr. Ricca states, “A lot of times, when I work in rural areas, I’ll show the nurses little tricks of the trade that I’ve picked up along the way. Staff may not have yet had the exposure to newer concepts that are currently being promoted in larger cities.” She adds, “A new person coming in and bringing in that information kind of shakes things up a little bit, and the nurses really find that helpful.”
Traveling with her crew
Dr. Ricca loves her two Great Danes and travels with them to all assignments. She therefore enjoys longer contracts where she can settle in, which she feels makes it easier on her and her four-legged friends. “We like to settle in like a regular doctor who’s practicing at that facility would and integrate into the practice for a bit before moving on,” she says. The assignments she looks for are generally three to six months. Finding accommodations suited for the Great Danes is something Dr. Ricca’s Weatherby consultant handles for her. “Sometimes it takes a little bit longer to find housing, but they always find something that works really well,” she comments.
Enjoying a great doctor work/life balance
Dr. Ricca emphasizes how much she enjoys locum tenens, thanks to the ability to control her work/life balance. The work she is responsible for is stated directly in her contract, so there are rarely surprises. “If approached, I will try to rearrange and be flexible within their schedule, but I do set boundaries and limits because I respect my time outside of work,” she says. Dr. Ricca also praises her consultant who helps her navigate contracts by doing her negotiating and acting as the middleman. This helps to avoid conflicts during the contract term.
Experiencing different facilities and different patient populations is something that Dr. Ricca appreciates in her locum tenens OB/GYN role as well. “It’s interesting to me because I didn’t do a lot of traveling when my kids were younger. I basically went from college, to marriage, to kids, to med school. Now I’m enjoying meeting different physicians and staff, seeing different parts of the country, and discovering new places I like.”
Preaching what she practices
Dr. Ricca wholeheartedly advocates for others to join her in locum tenens. “I recommend it to a lot of people. If you have younger children and a partner who can stay with them while you are on a shorter contract, locums provides you an alternative to being in private practice every day,” she says. “And people who are towards the end of their career, I’ve advised them to try locums to allow for a more part-time schedule.”
Dr. Ricca loves what locum tenens has done for her career. “It’s been a wonderful change, and I really appreciate how it’s brought back the love that I have for medicine and my patients again. It’s been the best decision I’ve made in a long time.” Interested in learning more about locum tenens? Give us a call at 954.343.3050, or explore today’s locum tenens jobs for nurse practitioners.
FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:
Being a locum tenens physician reignited my love for practicing medicine. I had really been struggling with what I wanted to do, and once I realized that I loved practicing medicine again and that I love practicing in this manner, I have just continued to do this.
It’s hard to explain a relationship. When I started with Weatherby I never thought that a relationship with a doctor would be formed to the extent that Dr. Ricca and I know each other. A lot of that I hope comes from me listening to what her desires are and her trusting me with her practice.
I appreciate working with Don and Weatherby and all the staff here. They’re always very attentive to my needs. They listen to what I’m looking for in a position. He doesn’t present opportunities that I would not be interested in.
I love that she has two Great Danes that we work with.
Rascal and Beckett have done great. We travel across the country together. It’s not always easy to find housing that will accommodate two now-150-pound dogs, but they come with me wherever I go because I do longer-term assignments. And they’ve worked very diligently to find me housing that’s appropriate for my boys.
My special relationship with Dr. Ricca I think is attributed to I care. I really care about her, and I care about her boys. I care about her life; I care about how she’s traveling, where she’s going, how the facilities are treating her, how work managing her schedule that she desires to ensure that she doesn’t burn out because she’s helping all of us. She’s helping our facilities; she’s helping our patients that attend those facilities. We need our doctors, and we need people to care for them the way they’re caring for us. So I care.