Physician Resources

OB/GYNs: 7 ways working locum tenens can benefit your career

Being satisfied in life matters. And prior to the pandemic, more than 80% of OB/GYNs reported being happy outside of work. Now, only 57% say that’s the case.

What’s a way to combat burnout, take control of work/life balance, and travel more? Choosing locum tenens as an OB/GYN can accomplish all of that and more.

Here are seven main benefits of working locum tenens as an OB/GYN.

1. Gain a better work/life balance as a locum tenens OB/GYN

Working all the time makes it hard to maintain mental and physical health. OB/GYN Dr. Jaqueline Brown, who is now a career locums, knows this quite well.       

“My friends have said, ‘Oh my God, you’ve reverse-aged 10 years.’ And my stress level is so much less. For me, that part also is priceless.

“I love my life now,” she adds. “I find my work rewarding again, and I have time away from work for the things I enjoy.”

For Dr. Chastity Edwards, locums offers her the freedom to choose how she spends her time. She’s taken back control of her own time to not only pursue her passions but also to choose her life experiences. “I get to meet wonderful new people, both the townspeople and the medical staff and the patients. I’ve met so many travel nurses and providers. I’ve also had the time to go to so many CMEs.”

Infographic why OBGYNs love working locum tenens

2. Set your own schedule as a locum OB/GYN

With locums, you decide how often you want to put your OB/GYN skills to use, when you want time off between assignments, and even what type of assignments you want.

That flexibility is a driver for nearly all OB/GYNs who decide to move into a locum tenens lifestyle.

“After seven years in private practice, I always wanted to do locums,” says Dr. Linda Holt. “I made the decision that I’d had enough years of doing office practice and I just wanted something with more flexibility. Knowing what I know now, I would have done locums earlier.”

Dr. Brown goes on assignments that let her explore the outdoors, including National Parks, and set her schedule to make time for those activities. “I like variety in my assignments because I like to use it as an opportunity to explore other areas in the United States where I haven’t been before. My original intent, really, was to seek out positions because I really like outdoor activities like hiking and biking.”

physician speaking with pregnant patient

3. Locum OB/GYNs have more freedom and time to pursue passions

That ability to set your own schedule and take time off between assignments allows OB/GYNs to pursue passions outside of work. Just what do physicians do with all that time?

Dr. Edwards says she sees her family more often. “I’ve spent more time with my family than they’ve spent with me in more than 20 years of practicing medicine.”

Dr Edwards quote on spending more time with family

“In between the times I do locum work, I travel internationally,” says Dr. Brown, who started doing locums in 2016. “I end up working for three or four months of the time and travel for about a month and do that repeatedly. It’s been three years, and I love my life now. It’s really worked out well for me.”

Dr. Holt uses the flexibility to go on medical missions. “That’s the beauty of locums. You can actually take chunks of time and do things. I tried to do that a couple of times while I was at the practice, and it’s just hard to do. It created a lot of disruptions in the practice, not in a bad way. I had a very solid practice, but most practices are not really set up to do that.”

4. OB/GYNs working locums make higher pay per hour

Infographic - average pay for locum OBGYNs

Some locum assignments may pay more per hour than a regular full-time OB/GYN job. On average, locums OB/GYN jobs pay $150 – $200 per hour. Many physicians use this to work less and take more time for pursuits outside of work.

Dr. Brown says her goal is to work just enough to cover expenses. She makes less than she used to in her permanent position — but works less than one-third of what she used to work. “I make enough to cover my mortgage and cover my living expenses, contribute the maximum amount that I can per year for tax-free saving, and still look forward to doing what I want to do with my lifestyle.”

Dr. Brown pull quote about making money as a locum OBGYN

Other full-time locum OB/GYNs work three-fourths time, or nearly full time, and make about what they did in their full-time jobs. OB/GYN Dr. Ashita Gehlot began working locum tenens to quickly pay down her medical school debt.

Pull quote Dr Gehlot on paying down debt

“Locum tenens allowed me to aggressively pay down my student loans; I’m able to pick up more shifts as needed if I want to make even more money. I make more money now than I did in private practice.”

5. Locum tenens allows OB/GYNs time to focus more on patient care

One of the causes of physician burnout is the inability to spend enough time with patients — and the increase in paperwork and other administrative duties. With locum tenens, physicians can practice medicine without politics and meetings.

“I still love practicing medicine, but I’m kind of tired of some of the politics related to medicine, so I decided to give locums a try,” explains Dr. Edwards.

Dr. Brown has re-discovered her passion for medicine with locums. “What has happened in the healthcare system where you’re feeling very undervalued as a doctor, and a lot of my life was centered around so much pressure to make money and seeing huge numbers of patients? I kind of lost a lot of joy for medicine. I found that I get more satisfaction out of medicine by doing locums than I did when I was working in a full-time practice.”

physician with ultrasound speaking with patient

6. Learn new skills while working locum tenens as an OB/GYN

Locums positions can present the opportunity to put different skills to work than you did in your full-time practice — even many years into your career.

“I’ve gotten to teach residents, which is something that I didn’t think was my skill set,” says Dr. Edwards. “I’ve had family medicine residents at both assignments, and one of them is even considering getting more involved in women’s healthcare and OB because the experience was so pleasant. That makes me feel like that is an enduring impact I’m having in healthcare other than just the care of that specific patient. I’m making it even more possible for greater access to women’s healthcare for communities in need.”

7. A locum OB/GYN can fill the care gap in high-need, underserved areas

Many assignments are in rural communities in dire need of OB/GYNs. This enables physicians to provide care where their help is most needed.

This has been a draw for Dr. Brown. “Doing locums in those areas where people really, really need doctors, and there were some rural places where I worked at that I’d be the only OB/GYN on duty in a two-hour radius. The patients are just so grateful to really have somebody who is very experienced, and I feel a lot more appreciated for my work as a locums than I did in my regular practice.”

Pull quote Dr Brown on helping in underserved locations as an OBGYN

The ability to control your own schedule can also make it possible to provide care in underserved communities around the world. As Dr. Holt says, “With the flexibility [of locums], I can volunteer for medical missions.” She went on a medical mission to Zambia, which allowed her to focus exclusively on patient care while helping those in need.

Dr. Edwards says that has been part of the draw for her in doing locums. “You’re really serving a community that needs a medical provider.”

Want flexibility and work/life balance? 

Consider locum tenens. It’s a great option for physicians seeking good work/life balance, flexibility, and extra income.

Weatherby Healthcare can help you find the locum tenens opportunity that’s right for you. Give us a call or view today’s locum tenens job opportunities.

About the author

Kari Redfield

Kari Redfield is a professional content marketing writer. She also is a novelist and writes for newsstand magazines and has had work appear in Arizona Highways, Sedona Magazine, and American Fitness. She loves to travel and has been known to spend weeks in the U.S. West in her Aliner, checking out classic trad rock climbs, epic mountain bike rides, and other adventures.