Experienced locum Nicholas Kusnezov, MD, shares what he’s learned working locum tenens over the holidays.
The holidays are the time of year when there are an abundance of locum tenens assignment options to choose from. This is in large part because local physicians will take their vacations and time off for the holidays, so they choose to work holiday locum tenens. This typically leaves facilities short-staffed and in need of temporary coverage.
Holiday locums with a full-time job
If you have a primary job, the holidays are opportune for picking up locum assignments. You’ll typically have holiday time off anyway and won’t have to burn PTO. Working locum tenens over the holidays tends to be minimally disruptive to your full-time job.
Ensure a facility’s preparedness during the holidays
Another important and often overlooked consideration of working holiday locums is how well the facilities function where you’ll be picking up shifts during the holidays. Staff is typically just a skeleton crew because, no matter the size of facility, they are most often understaffed due to employees taking holiday leave. Operating rooms may be functioning on emergency mode meaning general elective cases may not be permitted during holidays. You will also often have the back-up crew for everyone from nursing circulators to ancillary staff. Make sure that you know what you are walking in to. Ask these questions ahead of time.
Traveling for holiday locums assignments
If you’re considering picking up holiday locum assignments, it’s important to take into consideration the geographic location of the assignment. While locum agencies often make holiday travel as painless as possible, you should plan well ahead for rental cars and flights. You also need to take into account that you may need to book your accommodations a number of weeks or even months in advance around holidays, especially major holidays. This is compounded by the pandemic-related shortages in staff and surges in renting cars, which leave many lots overbooked. Have contingency plans in place.
Lastly, take into account the geographic location of the assignment. Many of you may bring your families on locums assignments as I do. This is the most important aspect of the assignment details for me. If we are going anywhere during a holiday, I want to ensure that there are fun things to do and events either in the town in which I’m working or at least nearby. Get paid while you and you family enjoy yourselves.
Finally, the benefits of working holiday locums
Holidays frequently pay much more than standard coverage (often time-and-a-half), and it’s easier to negotiate since facilities typically have fewer staffing options. Additionally, there are more locum tenens assignments to choose from over the holidays than other times throughout the year.
Further, facilities are more likely to remember you for the next time they need coverage if you help them out over the holiday. This will give you priority in shift options for future locum assignments at their facility, since you can reliably help them out in a pinch. Aside from the obvious monetary considerations is the potential for forging good relationships based on your availability and reliability.