When you think of a locum tenens dermatologist, which kind of doctor are you more likely to imagine? One in the later stages of his or her career, or a relatively young dermatologist, just a few years out of residency?
You might lean toward the first option. After all, more freedom and control over your schedule and the opportunity to travel undoubtedly appeal to someone nearing retirement. But wouldn’t those qualities be just as appealing to someone at the beginning of their career? The answer, of course, is yes. For dermatologists in their early career, the advantages of locum tenens are just as compelling. Here are just a few of the reasons why locum tenens can be a great opportunity for dermatologists at the start of their careers.
Taking back control of your life
Medical school and residency are as much a course in survival as in medicine. And then, once everything works out, the first few years of a permanent position can be just as grueling — with long hours and limited vacation time. It shouldn’t be surprising then that some doctors report feeling drained before their careers have hardly started.
This was the situation for dermatologist Dr. Nicole Cassler. The launch of her career took somewhat longer than normal. She served three years as a dermatologist in the Navy before pursuing regular employment. But when she finally began looking for a civilian position, she found herself asking if a permanent job was what she really wanted.
In the end, Dr. Cassler turned to locum tenens as a way to restore the work/life balance she was missing. “I didn’t know what schedule I wanted,” she says, “but I was ready to take a bit of a break and maybe not work so much. I wasn’t sure if I wanted a four-day week or every-other-week, with extended time off. And I knew I wanted to travel.”
With locums, Dr. Cassler could experiment with whatever schedule appealed to her. She didn’t have to worry about coordinating her time off or filling in for doctors who were senior to her. She finally could take as much time as she wanted to recharge. For a young dermatologist only a few years out of training, locum tenens was a welcome respite — one that still came with a good paycheck. Eventually, she did accept a permanent position, but she had the luxury of waiting until it was the right fit for her circumstances.
Doctors in the second half of their careers often choose locums because they want to travel more — and what could be better for travel than a job that allows you to set your own schedule and be your own boss? With locum tenens, you can work where you want and take time off whenever you need it. This open door to more travel opportunities can be equally appealing to new physicians.
Dermatologist Dr. Amanda Daggett gravitated towards locum tenens because it gave her the flexibility to work wherever she wanted. In her case, it meant she could be closer to family.
“I’m really close to my family, and my sister is also a medical resident,” she says. “So there were moving pieces in my family, not just my career. I really had no idea where any of us were going to end up. I wanted the flexibility of locums and the ability to travel back home — to wherever home was.”
Thanks to locums, Dr. Daggett hasn’t had to give up friendships or sacrifice time with family. In the future, things might become more settled, and if so, she can seek out a permanent position. For now, however, locums is a scenario that works well for her and her loved ones.
Gaining valuable experience
In the meantime, Dr. Daggett is gaining valuable experience working in different medical settings. She enjoys observing different approaches to medicine and learning from each one. “You kind of get a sampling of practice styles — how different people do things — a hospital system versus a private equity versus a solo private practice.”
Locums has broadened her perspective more quickly than otherwise might have happened. “I really loved that after residency, because you start to figure out what you like and don’t like. You get to see all the aspects of dermatology,” she says. When the time comes that she wants to transition to a permanent position, she’ll have a better idea of how she likes to practice.
Just what the dermatologist ordered
For dermatologists at the beginning of their career, locum tenens can be a great alternative to taking a permanent position. It allows you to try out different work environments, have more flexibility in your work schedule, and take a break from work whenever you need it. Whatever your situation, locum tenens can help you take control of your career.