Locum Tenens

9 reasons why locum tenens makes sense for physician moms

Physician mom reading to child

Being a full-time mom while pursuing a career in medicine is not for the faint of heart. But what if there was a magical path that allowed you to not only do both, but excel at both? Here are nine reasons why locum tenens can make sense for physician moms like you.

1. It offers flexibility that works for parents

As a free agent in the workforce, you’re able to:

  • Find work close to the places that suit your family, such as near grandparents or where your spouse’s job takes them
  • Select placements that fit YOUR schedule
  • Opt for placements farther away from your family for a little “me” time

In short: Flexibility is king.

Locum tenens cardiologist and mom Dr. Jelica Maze shares, “I was able to take the maternity leave I thought was best for me and my family through doing locum tenens work. I worked full-time before my son was born, but once I was ready to return to work, I could only manage two weeks a month. Fortunately, Weatherby Healthcare is able to accommodate that schedule.”

Dr. Simran Kalra
Dr. Simran Kalra

Dr. Simran Kalra, a mom and locum tenens pediatrician, also adapted well to the scheduling freedom. “I’d say to my spouse, ‘Ok, let’s load up the schedule. I need to save up a little bit of money.’”

She continues: “I could choose how long I wanted to work or take off based on how much money I could save during that time. After my baby was born, I could go back as fast or as slow as I wanted to. I started working, but not full time. I’d just cover two days here and there, and a few more days the following week.”

In essence, locum tenens physician moms can work on their terms. Instead of the standard model, these doctors can enjoy customized schedules that work for them, their family, and their kids.

2. The work can be deeply meaningful

Many women want to find meaning outside of motherhood, and continuing to work in a field you’re passionate about can be just the shift needed to make it happen.

Dr. Jenny Underwood, a mother of three and an OB/GYN who works locum tenens, finds joy in her short-term positions.

“When you go to these places that need additional help, for whatever reason — whether they’re remote or somebody is retiring or whatever it is — I’ve never had a situation where somebody wasn’t accommodating or so thankful that I was there or so helpful.”

“It shows you medicine in so many lights. In the Appalachian region, which is very rural, it is one experience. Then I’ll go to New Hampshire, where it is a little bit rural, but it’s more of a ski resort town. Working with different populations in each place is a powerful experience.”

Locum tenens promises physician moms exceptionally fulfilling opportunities for real impact.

3. You’ll be setting a strong example for your children

When kiddos see their parents working hard and pursuing their dreams, it encourages them to do the same.

Dr. Katharine Altieri’s children
Dr. Katharine Altieri’s children

Dr. Katherine Altieri, a mother of three and emergency medicine doctor who works locum tenens, says: “Whenever I’m home, I always try to spend as much time with the kids as I can and do activities and family events. I also try to give each kid their individual time and their individual needs.”

Kids seeing their parents work hard and play hard can instill a strong work ethic from a young age. What’s more, being a working mom also breaks down gender stereotypes, letting both girls and boys know that they can choose to have fulfilling career paths as well as raise a family.

4. You can embrace the slow travel lifestyle

If traveling is a favorite pastime of yours, it’s hard to underscore the merits of locum tenens’ more adventurous aspects. Short-term gigs in new places allow physician moms to slow down, embrace the local culture, and connect with their neighbors in a more meaningful way.

It also makes a great launchpad for family vacations.

“I accepted a placement right next to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I’d work a long string of shifts, then bring the family so we could go and visit the National Park,” says Dr. Altieri.

Dr. Underwood adds: “All these different cities and places are ones that I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to vacation in but are wonderful. You find trails, you find paths. The nurses are always inviting me to dinner or to do this. In every town, you just kind of discover it. When the places are really special, we plan a vacation where the kids can come too, just to see what mom does.”

5. Get the chance to try on and experience different styles of practice

Dr. Jelica Maze
Dr. Jelica Maze

If you struggle to know what type of work environment you’d like to work in for the long haul, locum tenens can help.

Physician moms get a taste of a full range of different practice environments — from large, government, teaching hospitals in major cities to rural communities that are understaffed. Locum tenens can help you uncover insights about your professional needs and preferences for the rest of your working career.

Dr. Maze echoes this sentiment. “I thought locum tenens was a good choice to gain experience, figure out what I wanted to do, and make a well-informed decision. It gives you flexibility to do different things, discover how you like to practice, and what you like to do on a daily basis.”

6. It’s lucrative

Many organizations pay top dollar to fill last-minute, empty positions. This can mean more cash in your pockets for fewer hours than more traditional roles.

What’s more, your everyday living expenses — including meals, housing, and transportation — are generally covered. Locum tenens physician moms can instead sock away their earnings to save for rainy days, a future baby, retirement, or any other short- or long-term money goals, like 529 accounts for your kids’ college funds.

7. You’ll learn skills that help at the hospital or at home

The impact that locum tenens positions can have on a woman’s skill base and resume can be invaluable to a career.

By getting exposure to a wide variety of practices and adapting to myriad work environments, physician moms pursuing locum tenens can take advantage of opportunities that may not be available in a standard position. They can re-enter the workforce with a full-time position when they’re ready — and equipped — to move ahead in their careers.

Dr. Jenny Underwood and family
Dr. Jenny Underwood and family

Dr. Underwood has confidence in her professional future. “I’ve been offered a lot of full-time jobs, but I’m at a stage where I just want to protect my time. I have a lifetime to work a full-time job.”

Dr. Kalra adds, “You’re going to be a little bit slower your first day compared to their regular physician, but you do have to adjust pretty quickly just to keep the flow. It definitely keeps you on your toes. You continue to learn about new things because you have to.”

This willingness to learn — and thrive — on the fly is a transferable skill set not only in your professional life, but as a mom (and general human), too. Locum tenens positions have several built-in opportunities to sharpen your collaboration and communication skills.

8. It might not be easy….

There can be real downsides to the locum tenens lifestyle for physician moms, not the least of which can be a gnawing feeling of guilt, no matter where you are.

“During medical school, I was spending so much time in classes or at work, that I’d feel a need to be a mom and be with my kids. But then, when I was with my kids, it was like I needed to be studying more. Trying to be the best of both worlds is challenging. Family comes first, but it’s tough because patients are a very, very close second-first,” says Dr. Altieri.

9. … But it’s rewarding

Even despite the tenuous balance of work and personal commitments, most physician moms that pursue locum tenens find that the upsides of the flexibility, meaningful work, and other benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Dr. Underwood says, “You’d be really surprised how refreshing it is to have a little bit more control of your schedule and to be able to walk away from a job knowing that all paperwork is done, all calls are done, and now when I leave I just get to focus on my family.”

“All of the places, the nurses are so kind, the patients are so thankful — across the board that’s the standard.”

“I really hope the message is out there for the moms is to just try it.”

Want to find out how locum tenens can help you manage your life as a physician mom? Give us a call at 954.343.3050 or view today’s locum tenens opportunities.

About the author

Jen Hunter

Jen Hunter has been a marketing writer for over 20 years. She enjoys telling the stories of healthcare providers and sharing new, relevant, and the most up-to-date information on the healthcare front. Jen lives in Salt Lake City, UT, with her husband, two kids, and their Golden. She enjoys all things outdoors-y, but most of all she loves being in the Wasatch mountains.