When Jane Park, MD, decided to pursue a career in medicine, she knew she eventually wanted to do good work abroad. She just wasn’t sure how she would be able to make that happen. Ultimately, she found that locum tenens practice could allow her to live the lifestyle she wanted while achieving her goals of international medical and public health work.
Dr. Park, a med-peds (internal medicine-pediatrics) physician originally from the Southwest, will be attending the upcoming 2018 Difference Makers trip to Kenya that is funded by a grant from the Making a Difference Foundation. This year, she and three other Weatherby Healthcare physicians will have the opportunity to provide care at the Baraka Hospital and help educate local physicians. This all-expense-paid trip is awarded annually to healthcare providers who have demonstrated their passionate commitment to helping others.
The perks of locum tenens
“My long-term vision has always been international work,” says Dr. Park. “After I finished my residency I started looking at how I could do interesting work domestically, and also have adequate time off to pursue international medical missions. I decided to try locum tenens opportunities based on the recommendations of several people I knew who had been happy with their experiences. It sounded like a fun way to try out different things for a few months at a time.”
Dr. Park contacted Weatherby Healthcare and was introduced to Edward Salazar, who has been her dedicated consultant ever since. “Edward is my go-to for everything locums. He knows me well, and he handles all the logistics for me. It is always helpful to talk with him. My car was once broken into in Oahu, Hawaii, and even though it was late at night I knew I could call Edward, and he helped take care of it. He really makes this life possible, taking care of me so I never have to worry.”
The international medical possibilities
Dr. Park’s flexible medical career also allows for a healthy work-life balance. “My significant other lives in Peru, and locum tenens gives me ample time to spend there and also accept international medical missions. Soon I will spend two months in the Peruvian Andes, and I welcome the chance to work in a remote location where I won’t have all the resources I am used to. It provides a new perspective on healthcare systems. I enjoy challenging myself to adapt to different settings and populations. I would never be able to do this if I had a regular position that only allowed for three weeks of vacation each year.”
After Peru, Dr. Park will head to Africa on the Difference Makers trip. “I was thrilled when Edward presented me with this opportunity to go to Kenya. In college I went to Cameroon for 10 weeks and was partnered with a public health student. It was eye-opening, and I have always wanted to return. I am especially interested in the HIV component associated with Kenya. Plus, I will be working with local providers, which I feel is an excellent model.”
Dr. Park, who also holds a master’s degree in public health in international health systems, thinks physicians are most effective if they can think about the big picture. “I want to be part of the global community and share what I’ve learned about public health systems. Plus, on a personal level, I love seeing life in different settings and learning about new cultures. It’s very satisfying when you can combine travel with trying to contribute to the places you go. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
In fact, Dr. Park is happy to be a part of locum tenens in general, and urges other physicians to consider this practice alternative. “In addition to all the other benefits, the compensation is quite good. I’m paying off piles of student loans, but I’m not struggling financially. I just have to manage my resources well, because I work for only half the year.”