Physician Resources

Earn more and work less as a locums gastroenterologist

Older gastroenterologist physician fishing outdoors

Locum tenens has become a desirable career option for gastroenterologists for good reason. With the U.S. experiencing a shortage of gastroenterologists, GI physicians — especially those who’ve retired or are near retirement — can help fill the gap through locums assignments. Two gastroenterologists discuss how working locums has allowed them to enjoy work/life balance as they ease into retirement while also providing care to the patients who need it most.

Locum tenens as a career alternative for gastroenterologists

Photo of Dr. Brenner and his wife
Dr. Robert Brenner and his wife

Locum tenens often flies under physicians’ radars, but physicians are increasingly turning to it as a desirable career alternative.

“I knew locums was there for a long time, but I never took a good look at it,” says Dr. Robert Brenner. “It’s one of those things I wish I had done five years ago when I left my practice.” He closed his 26-year San Diego practice for a position with a hospital only to decide it wasn’t what he was looking for.

“I decided to go on the road to do locums,” he says. “That way, I could consolidate as much work as possible into a 20-day span and then be home for about 10 days a month. My priority is to make as much as I can in as short a time as possible and still have time to go home and be with my family.”

Get started: How to begin working locum tenens

Keeping your GI skills fresh

Freshly retired Dr. Duane Webb had just finished a three-month sailing trip to Alaska when he decided the retirement gig wasn’t for him. “I got a little restless and felt I needed to return to the workplace, not wanting to lose my skills.”

So he was pleased to discover how well some facilities, like Skagit Regional Health in Washington, accommodated locum physicians.

“They have about four locums in addition to two full-time GIs,” he explains, so their onboarding for locums was “positive from the very beginning. They were very welcoming, with a great orientation. I learned the system they were using, and they gradually built up my workload as I adjusted to their computer billing with Epic. It was a positive experience.” 

Finding the right work/life balance as a GI physician

Photo of Dr. Webb, a locum tenens gastroenterologist
Dr. Duane Webb

The flexibility and work/life balance offered by locums was a breath of fresh air to both physicians. Dr. Webb works two weeks per month, and Dr. Brenner 20 days per month, giving both ample time to devote to family and their personal lives.

“It’s given me about one-third of my time off,” Dr. Brenner says. “When I’m home, I’m free and getting many things done. My wife’s happy to see me as we still manage to maintain our closeness.” She definitely doesn’t mind being greeted daily with a glass of wine as she pulls in from her transplant nurse job.

Dr. Brenner is also an avid cyclist, so he makes the most of his time off while on assignment by jumping on his bike and doing 50 miles at a clip. “Riding is my therapy. It’s just good to get out, put some miles on, and enjoy the countryside.”

Taking center stage for Dr. Webb is his love of amateur photography, “gentleman farming” on his ten-acre spread, and building nature trails for his children and grandchildren to enjoy. “With the weeks I have off, it’s a lot of fun.”

Dr. Webb likes to use his free time while on assignment to be a tourist with his wife, who frequently goes on the road with him. “We explore the nautical areas — the coasts, marinas, and marina towns. Recently, there was a tulip festival. We could drive past and appreciate the acres and acres of tulips in full bloom.”

Why GI physicians should consider locum tenens

Dr. Brenner recommends locums to the other GIs he encounters. “It’s a great way to make a good income, however much time they choose to allot to it. As long as I’m healthy, I see the potential in doing something like this indefinitely.”

Dr. Webb agrees but adds his “3 A’s” to any conversation on locums: available, affable, and able. “These are the three characteristics of a good locum. People immediately assess whether you are a good fit or not, and you have to make them feel that you are.”

 Want to learn more about locum tenens for gastroenterologists? Give us a call at 954.343.3050 or view today’s gastroenterology job opportunities.

About the author

Kevin Kealey

Kevin Kealey is a marketing writer who’s been with CHG for fourteen years. Prior to CHG, he worked as an educator, executive coach, and training consultant for 20+ years. Kevin lives with his wife, Suzanne, in South Carolina with their two German shepherds, Bailey and Blazer, and a Congo African Grey parrot who goes by the name of Sebastian.