Locum tenens rheumatologist Dr. Pierre Moeser believes his approach to medicine can equate to a better life for his patients. “Chronic diseases — the difficult things to diagnose — have always been an interest of mine,” he says. “It’s not about keeping people well but rather, taking people in pain, people with a disability, and trying to make them better.”
Dr. Moeser has been a rheumatologist for 38 years. He ran his own rheumatology practice in Missouri for 28 years, treating the same patients year after year. Being able to offer that kind of care was rewarding, but it got him thinking about how he could expand, in a medical sense. He wanted to be a part of filling the rheumatology care gap throughout the country.
“I really love medicine, but I wanted a different focus,” he says. “I want to see brand new people. There are a lot of people out there who have never seen a rheumatologist that I couldn’t see because my practice was full. And there are a lot of areas in the United States where there’s no rheumatologists. There’s a need, nationally.”
Time for a new venture
A couple years ago, Dr. Moeser realized being at the helm of his business had run its course. Even so, his experiences as a full-time rheumatologist for three decades only confirmed his love for medicine. He decided to transition to locum tenens work, because he still wanted to practice medicine and the flexibility of locums appealed to him.
“I wanted a bit of a break after being in private practice so long,” he recalls. “This could give me a break, but I could still do what I love.”
His top priority when looking for assignments was a desire to venture outside what he already knew and be there for a new group of patients, this time outside of his hometown.
“The first thing I mentioned when I talked to my recruiter, was that I didn’t want to work in the city where I lived. That’d be silly.”
New places, new patients
Dr. Moeser started his first assignment within a month and has since traveled to rural assignments across the United States. He says appreciates the differences he’s noticed in each state. There are the obvious variants, like weather and local culture, and then there are those you have to experience yourself.
“The places are different, the needs are different, and the staffing is different, but that’s all a positive, not a negative,” he says.
While locums has proven to be a restart in Dr. Moeser’s career, navigating continuity of care with the new patients while doing locums is something he’s had to take into consideration.
“I’m never going to see the same patient twice,” he remarks. ” Every patient is new, which is a challenge. But on the other hand, it’s also a tremendous opportunity. If someone isn’t doing well, I can change their treatment or rethink the whole thing. I explain what locum tenens is, and then I give patients the best care I can.”
More flexibility in delivering care
Right away, he felt the lightness of locum tenens when he compared it to being a full-time rheumatologist.
“I don’t have the responsibilities that I had in full-time practice — going to staff meetings or hiring employees, doing interviews, doing some quarterly review,” he says. “Now I don’t get bogged down.”
Without the administrative tasks, Dr. Moeser also has more flexibility when it comes to seeing patients. With each new assignment, he says he says he likes to accomplish as much as he can for the relatively short amount of time he has in a certain place.
“I’m there to work so I like to hit the ground running,” he says. “Or if a patient shows up, say half an hour late, I’m not going to turn them away,” he says. “I’ll see them — that is why I’m there. Or if someone wants to be seen, I add them on. Bring the patients.”
Along with hitting the ground running, Dr. Moeser likes to fly — airplanes that is. In his spare time, he enjoys seeing new places from a higher vantage point. “I’m a private pilot,” he shared. “I rent airplanes and meet with local pilots. It’s just for fun.”
Dr. Moeser has also found the time to relax and explore when he’s not in the clouds.
“In North Dakota I did nothing,” he jokes. “The temperature the first week was between minus two and minus thirty, so I was indoors. In Montana, there are hiking and biking trails. In the Adirondacks, I hiked several mountains.”
Give it a try
Great pay, flexibility, and very little administrative work are among the positives Dr. Moeser says he has discovered while doing locums. To other rheumatologists considering locum tenens, he offers the following advice: Just try it.
“You can just schedule your locums around your vacations rather than having to reschedule patients. Just try it.”