Locum Tenens Tips Physician

Local locums: Caring for patients close to home

Female physician speaking to patient

While many physicians appreciate the benefits of locum tenens — schedule flexibility, great pay, work/life balance — not all physicians want to hop on a plane and spend an extended time away from their families. But you may be surprised that this isn’t your only option. It is possible to find locum tenens opportunities close to home, which can be a nice option for those physicians who want to stay near family or avoid traveling by plane.

Why choose locum tenens assignments close to home rather than in a distant location?

Many physicians opt to forego locum tenens placements in far-flung destinations, instead pursuing opportunities in more comfortable, local hospitals and clinics.

The reasons vary.

For instance, for Dr. Stephanie Bui, a vascular surgeon from Missouri, was motivated to get working as quickly as possible since she was applying for positions in a tough job market. Rather than waiting out an economic upturn — largely out of her control — she decided to jump at the chance to work in a surgery center as a locum tenens surgeon.

“I wanted to expedite my return to the operating room, where I am useful. I felt energized by the possibility of just working right away, of being in the OR, of filling in a spot that was needed especially at that facility.“

“I see my inner mentality as just going where you are needed. That is a healthcare mentality. Just because I can’t recognize the outside or the airport or the highway doesn’t mean I can’t do great work in the OR, where I know how things are going to go. The OR is kind of like a sanctuary,” continued Dr. Bui.

Dr. Michael Cormican
Dr. Michael Cormican

Dr. Michael Cormican, a trauma surgeon and critical care intensivist, jumped at the chance to pursue local locum tenens opportunities near his home base of Gainesville, Georgia, just northeast of Atlanta. One of his major draws? The ability to get insider knowledge on the workings of other institutions.

“I enjoy dropping into other places and seeing how things run. I enjoy seeing a different side of things, seeing different hospitals, and getting to know different people. And then, as well, seeing how other places do things while also trying to impart my ways to these different places.”

Other reasons for pursuing locum tenens jobs in nearby communities include an ease of travel, the ability to manage work/life balance, and the chance to make a difference for your neighbors.

How they got their local jobs

There are several ways to find these unique opportunities to work as a locum tenens near your home base.

Dr. Roseann Freundel, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist from Virginia, transitioned to more local opportunities from her original locum tenens placements further afield.

“Some of the assignments that I originally had were up in Maine or California. Some of them required an 18- to 20-hour travel day and three planes. Just for my own sanity and energy level, I asked my locum tenens agent if they could find something a little bit closer to home so that I would not be spending so much travel time.”

“Now, my placement is four hours away by car.”

Dr. Kamlesh Jha

Dr. Kamlesh Jha is originally from India but has practiced medicine in a variety of capacities in North America — both the Yukon, Canada, and around the United States — since 2005. His most recent work is as a neonatologist in Chicago. He leaned on healthcare staffing agencies (like Weatherby) to connect him to nearby locum tenens jobs in the Midwest.

“Since working with them, I have taken calls at a University of Chicago satellite unit, Ingalls Memorial Hospital. And recently, I accepted an assignment through Weatherby in Indiana at the Extension Health Center.”

How the commutes, the jobs, and the commitments vary

Commutes vary for local locum tenens job seekers.

Dr. Cormican enjoys the short commute: “One of my placements is literally about two miles away. The other one is about five miles away, and the third one is probably 10 to 15 miles away. Those have been pretty easy and really convenient.“

Dr. Jha also typically has a shorter commute time; he travels 45 minutes maximum from his home for his Chicago placements. For the slightly further job in Indiana, he takes the bus since the travel time is roughly the same whether he takes a bus or drives himself. This gives him flexibility to relax along the way.

While Dr. Freundel does not have the convenience of options within a 15-mile radius, she is happy with the selection available to her. “There are five hospitals that I have been able to get placements that are within a reasonable driving distance, anywhere from one to five hours from my home. That is very doable.” Her assignments vary from overnight stays to day trips.

Dr. Bui, meanwhile, takes a different approach. Her locum tenens placement typically lasts a week to 10 days at a time, and is located about an hour and a half outside of Kansas City. “I go there and I stay there because of being on call. I do not commute every day. I just go and then stay there for the remainder.”

Assignments vary as much as the commutes. Lucky for physicians interested in local locum tenens, a variety of options are available, and most preferences can be matched.

The benefits of taking locum tenens assignments close to home

The upsides of working locum tenens are well established; however, a local placement unveils even more unique perks — like a cherry on top.

You can more reliably get the job done

Dr. Stephanie Bui
Dr. Stephanie Bui

Not being beholden to an airline’s schedule makes Dr. Bui a more dependable employee. This was especially important during the height of the COVID pandemic.

“It was very reassuring to me that if the airline shut down, canceled, or required passengers to quarantine, that regardless, I could still get to my assignment because I was driving. That flexibility is important to me to have — I just want to be where I need to be, especially for something like work.”

No airport waits

“It eliminated air travel from the equation, and simplified traveling between the two places,” said Dr. Bui about her local locum tenens assignment.

In the era of pandemic travel, avoiding busy airport terminals was also a smart personal safety move.

Access to less competitive jobs and unique medical technology

Dr. Jha has used his locum tenens placements to get access to work that would otherwise be unavailable to him. “In Chicago, there is a lot of competition. Most of the hospitals are located here, so many times, you may not get into a level III trauma center as locums because there are already a lot of people working in that institute. I wanted to do intensive care after my training, and I did not want to do lower-level work.”

He is also attracted to new machinery that might not be available at his normal work facility. “With access to level III jobs, I can use technology that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to for post-op cardiac management.”

The chance to try out new tech or find work otherwise unavailable to you — or hard to get — is an upside of pursuing local locum tenens on top of your full-time gig.

You can achieve better work/life balance

Dr. Roseann Freundel
Dr. Roseann Freundel

Dr. Freundel shares: “I could more easily travel back and forth, which allows me to shorten the length of some of my assignments, take a couple of days off, and then come back instead of being stuck up there for weeks.”

She also found that local locum tenens assignments allowed her to better manage her household duties, making home owning less stressful.

“There are things you need to do, like pay bills and keep up with house stuff. If you are away for a significant period of time, I would have no one to take over those chores. Now, it is a lot easier.”

Ability to maintain more relationships

Dr. Bui finds that local locum tenens allows her to maintain close relationships and care for family.

“It allows me some flexibility to look in on my parents and their health issues. Since I don’t have any family in Michigan, I knew the position was not something that I could continue after my three-year contract was up for renewal. That is not the case with my local locums placements.”

A tangible opportunity for professional development

Dr. Cormican has found great satisfaction in the perspectives he’s gained from his local locum tenens placements.

“My background is more surgical critical care, and most of the locums jobs I have done have been more medical critical care, particularly with COVID. The surgical and medical world is totally different, and so seeing from that perspective has been pretty helpful.”

“It’s definitely helped me see there are a million different ways to get to the right result.”

Interested in locum tenens jobs close to you? Give us a call at 954.343.3050 to speak with a consultant or view today’s locum tenens job opportunities.

About the author

Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a communication professional with experience writing for the healthcare and entertainment industries as well as local government. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.

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