When dermatologist Dr. Carrie Cera Hill decided to open a private practice near her home in Glendale, Colorado, she knew the business would not become profitable overnight. But she wasn’t deterred and took the leap of faith. Her strategy: work locum tenens part time on the side to supplement her income while she got the practice started.
“The market here is very competitive. I knew I would need to supplement my cash flow in the beginning while I grew my patient base,” Dr. Cera Hill says. “I had accepted a locum tenens contract through Weatherby Healthcare a few years ago, while in between permanent positions, and it worked out very well. So I spoke to my consultant in hopes of finding a part-time opportunity that would accommodate the schedule at my new practice.”
Finding the right fit
Dr. Cera Hill’s consultant Natalie Guerrero was confident she could find exactly what Dr. Cera Hill was looking for. “There are a wide variety of opportunities available,” explains Guerrero. “Some providers mistakenly assume facilities only use locum tenens providers to cover, say, a maternity leave or a medical absence. The truth is there are many facilities that need providers to fill in on a recurring part-time basis.”
“Plus, facilities are often willing to be flexible with scheduling,” Guerrero adds. “This enables a provider to work around his or her other commitments. If the provider can also be a little flexible, we end up with a situation that benefits everyone.”
Balancing a private practice and part-time locum tenens
This turned out to be the case for Dr. Cera Hill. She has since worked several part-time locum tenens contracts in different parts of the country.
“Although I prefer to be as close to home as possible to minimize my time away from my children, this schedule was too good to pass up,” Dr. Cera Hill recalls of her first assignment in Wisconsin. “The outlying clinic wanted me for only about a week at a time, on a recurring basis. So I was able to go there and earn extra money, but still be available to see patients regularly at my own growing practice.”
Dr. Cera Hill found that the traveling wasn’t as difficult as she’d imagined. “The two-hour flight was completely manageable. Overall, the whole experience was very positive.”
She enjoyed the staff and the patients she worked with as well. “It felt good to provide services in an area with such a definite need. Plus, the supportive staff and the wonderful patients made each day a pleasure. Even though I was only there for a few months, I got to know some of the patients well, and they were mostly kind and grateful. My time there was definitely well spent.”
Minimizing time away from family
With a young family, Dr. Cera Hill tried to stay as close to home as possible. So when Guerrero recently presented her with another engagement within driving distance from her family, Dr. Cera Hill eagerly accepted. “The Midwest clinic had started needing me less and less. So when Natalie told me about an opportunity just an hour’s drive from my home, I was very interested.”
Dr. Cera Hill has since retired from working locums to focus on her practice, but she is grateful that locum tenens was available to help her bridge the gap.
“I feel extremely fortunate. I was able to build the business I wanted, earn the extra income I needed to do it, and still be home with my husband and children every night. It was truly the best of both worlds.”