Physician Resources

Physicians’ perspective: Working locum tenens with a young family at home

Physician mom with daughter

If you have young children at home, it may be difficult to consider temporary positions that take you away from them. However, locum tenens with a family can be more doable than you think, and many physicians find this option more flexible than a private practice or hospital job close to home. We spoke to four doctors who talked about the pros of working locum tenens with a family. Read on for what they like best about locum tenens positions.

Dr Vishnu Potini
Dr Vishnu Potini

Building family trips in on the weekends

“I do a lot of weekend assignments. If it’s just a couple of days over the weekend, sometimes I bring the family with me, especially if it’s a long holiday weekend,” Dr. Vishnu Potini, an orthopedic surgeon based in Georgia, says. “If it’s a weekend they can’t come, it’s just a couple days and then you get the whole week to be at home.”

Dr. Potini, who also works a more semi-permanent assignment every other week in addition to holidays and weekends, says he has gotten used to his flexible schedule and likes to incorporate family trips that work for his wife, a pediatrician, and their young children.

“We’ve gone to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, quite often. I like the assignment, and my family likes to go and have a little mini vacation,” he says. “There’s a lot of history and museums, and then nearby is Hershey, Pennsylvania, so we can go early or stay afterwards and do some family activities there.”

Scheduling shifts to make more time with family

For Dr. Katharine Altieri, an emergency medicine physician based in Arizona, locum tenens work has made it possible to spend more time with her husband and three children.

Dr Altieri and husband
Dr Altieri and her husband

“My husband and the kids go out most of the time when I’m working, but I try to put in an extra day in front of or after the shift so we can all do something together,” she says. “If I do morning shifts, we can have dinner and do fun things at night. Locums is super ideal for any parent, mother or father.”

When Dr. Altieri is home, she says she tries to spend as much time with her kids as she can. However, her family has also adapted to the schedule and knows it is dynamic.

“I can make a schedule, and everybody knows in advance what to expect. With any shift, I try to schedule it so I can be with my kids and husband as much as possible,” Dr. Altieri says. “I’ve been fortunate to have a hospital try to work with my schedule. I think it’s great when you have the opportunity to bring your family with you as well.”

Ensuring you have enough time off after having a baby

Dr. Simran Kalra, a pediatrician based in Virginia, says locum tenens was a great work option when she was expecting her baby because she could work as much as she wanted and didn’t have to worry about the maternity leave policy and potentially losing pay for taking more time off.

Dr. Simran Kalra
Dr. Simran Kalra

“I could talk to my recruiter and say, ‘OK, let’s load up the schedule. I need to save up a little bit of money,’” she recalls. “I could also figure out how long I wanted to take off. I can go back to work as fast or as slow as I wanted to. I started working again after my baby’s birth but just covered two days a week at first.”

Dr. Kalra also appreciates that Weatherby Healthcare cared about her when her baby was born and that her recruiter kept in touch. “When I was home with the baby for a few months, my recruiter would just email me or call and see how things were,” she says. “He knew that there wasn’t any opportunity he was going to pass along to me, but he just wanted to see how things were going.”

Though she didn’t travel as much when her baby was first born, Dr. Kalra says she and her husband like to be able to travel spontaneously, which is harder without a flexible locum tenens job.

“If I had a permanent position, I’d have to ask permission. When I work locum tenens, I usually get my assignments one to two months ahead of time. I could say, ‘In September we want to go on a trip’ and stop assignments early,” Dr. Kalra says. “Because of locum tenens, I can balance my time with my family, my time for my profession, time for my patients, and time for myself. I think everybody should try locum tenens.”

Giving both family and work your full attention

When Dr. Jenny Underwood, an OB/GYN based in Texas, had a 7-year-old and a 1-year-old at home, she decided she wanted to work seven to 10 days per month and be home the rest of the time with her children.

“I do the drop-offs, the pick-ups, I’m able to go to their sports, and I’m able to actually make parent-teacher conferences,” Dr. Underwood says. “I think locums is a great option to consider because although you’re gone for the seven days, when you’re home you’re totally focused on your family because you’re not charting, you’re not taking call, you’re not distracted. You’re just busy here enjoying what you have.”

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

Noting she feels “revived” by her family, which now includes a third child, when she heads back to her locum tenens positions, Dr. Underwood says she’s excited each time she goes.

“You’re away from your family so you have a break, and for a mom of three, sometimes that seven days is nice because it rejuvenates me to go back and be a mom,” Dr. Underwood says. “It’s refreshing to come home and have that week of doing what you are passionate about, and then in your spare time the ability to exercise and to breathe for a second. With your job, it’s the same. You’re home with your family for three weeks and you’re so excited to go back. You’re ready to be there and do whatever it takes that they need. It gives you that balance.”

Since Dr. Underwood’s husband is also a physician, she says their schedules can get chaotic, but a nanny helps when she and her husband are both at work. She also does homework with her kids over FaceTime each day when she’s working.

“I honestly think the kids like it better because they know it’s seven days and when I come back, I’m all theirs,” Dr. Underwood says. “You’d be really surprised how refreshing it is to be able to walk away from a job knowing that all the paperwork is done, all the calls are done. Now when I leave, I just get to focus on my family.”

Though working locum tenens with a family requires some flexibility and scheduling, many physicians find this can be a rewarding career choice that gives them more balance than they expected.

Interested in learning more about locum tenens and how it can work for your family? Give us a call or view today’s locum tenens job openings in your specialty.

About the author

Lindsay Wilcox

Lindsay Wilcox is a communication professional with experience writing for the healthcare and entertainment industries as well as local government. When she's not circling typos, she's enjoying fish tacos and hanging out with her family.