Glynda Crabtree, MD, first experienced locum tenens practice in 2002. “For two years, I accepted assignments periodically to supplement the cost of building a new house,” says the emergency medicine physician.
In addition to working in the emergency department (ED) since 1998, Dr. Crabtree has practiced in an urgent care clinic on and off for the past two years. But ultimately, she began to crave the variety that is part of the mobile career alternative.
“My regular, nine-to-five position is low stress and involves seeing low-acuity patients,” explains Dr. Crabtree. “But I wanted to liven things up. As a locum tenens provider, I had always felt welcomed, especially by the nurses; everyone was grateful to have an extra set of hands. Since I’d had such a good experience in the past, I knew locum tenens practice could offer more of the mix I want when I feel the need to ‘switch it up.’”
Little did Dr. Crabtree know her desire for travel and professional challenges would unwittingly help a new friend and call upon her expertise in an unexpected way.
Just ‘inn’ time
Earlier this year, after completing her shift at her assignment facility in a small Pacific Northwest town, Dr. Crabtree returned to the bed and breakfast (B&B) where she’d been staying. Upon her arrival, she was greeted by the owner—who we’ll call Jane*—an older woman who runs the establishment.
“Jane told me she had fallen down the stairs the night before, temporarily lost consciousness, and injured her arm,” recalls Dr. Crabtree. “While she was a little shaken up, she was more concerned about ‘bothering’ me after an overnight shift than the spill she’d taken.”
Without hesitation, Dr. Crabtree examined Jane’s arm and called the hospital to personally request an appointment for her. “She thought it was probably nothing,” says Dr. Crabtree. “But I knew she should have her arm X-rayed. So, I sent her to the emergency department.” Later that day—though not required to do so—Dr. Crabtree asked the owner for permission to read her X-rays when she returned to the facility for her next shift.
When Dr. Crabtree went back to the B&B the next morning, Jane told her she felt dizzy and uneasy. Then, she hesitantly showed the physician a bump on her head, which had been sustained during her fall.
“I was shocked Jane didn’t show me her head injury when she told me about her arm,” states Dr. Crabtree. “There was a small gash. I knew she should go back to hospital immediately, and called both the onsite physician and Jane’s daughter to help facilitate her care.”
Jane feels lucky that Dr. Crabtree was housed at her B&B. While she was not a patient in the traditional sense, she experienced Red Ribbon Service delivered by a compassionate healthcare professional who went above and beyond to help her.
Dr. Crabtree is just happy she was there and able to lend her expertise. “Jane runs the inn on her own and can be there for days at a time without guests,” she relates. “I just wanted to make sure she was okay, which is why I sent her back to the hospital for a CT scan.”
Thankfully, Jane made a full recovery from her injuries and continues to provide her guests with a lovely and comfortable home away from home.
A taste for the locum lifestyle
For Dr. Crabtree, the key to a rewarding locum tenens career is the ability to remain flexible—be it with patient populations and practice settings or accommodations and the unexpected. “A great time to get a taste of what’s out there would be a year or two out of residency,” she says. “Clinicians can gain so much freedom and experience practicing locum tenens. And the extra income is like icing on the cake.”
*Name of the owner was changed for the sake of privacy.