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Barton Blog / Healthcare News and Trends

Dispelling More Misconceptions About Going Locum

Posted on: April 09, 2019


written by

Evan Wade

Myths In Text

What can a full-time career or part-time stint as a locum do for you? A lot, depending on what you’re looking for: The role’s pay, flexible hours, and skill-sharpening attributes are a major reason tens of thousands of healthcare professionals have entered the field in some capacity, making their skills available on a temporary basis to facilities in need of short-term help.

Even so, misconceptions abound. While any career track—let alone one in the challenging world of healthcare—will come with downsides that need weighed, measured, and managed, myths about going temp range from complete misunderstandings to outright untruths. Now that we’ve covered several of the most pressing myths in text and video form, let’s take a look at four more that might unfairly sway you away from the field.

1. You’ll Only Work in Busy Places

To be clear, there are plenty of locum postings out there with a rather exhilarating patient load and pace of work. Even so, assuming these are the only kind of posting in a field where a near-plural percentage of facilities use locums year-over-year is incorrect at best, due to one simple fact: Facilities of all types and workloads have temporary staffing issues, and they’ve increasingly turned to locum services to allay them.

Here, the big thing to keep in mind is the relationship with your recruiter is a two-way street. If a heavy workload has you concerned about fully committing to a posting, convey this to your recruiter, and he or she will take the time to discuss options. The huge diversity of facilities can play a role here, too, because a rural clinic will naturally be less hectic than the same business model in an urban area. In any event, you don’t need to worry that you’ll be fed a string of jobs so busy you can hardly catch your breath — locum agencies do get that kind of work, but it’s ultimately only one kind you’ll encounter.

2. You’ll Have to Go Full-Time

A lot of healthcare professionals do choose to pursue locum tenens as a full-time engagement, but that’s far from the only way to experience the field’s advantages. The choose-your-own-job ethos that makes the field so popular also applies to the amount of work you take. If you just want to work holidays, or pick up the occasional added week here and there, that’s definitely an option.

So, yes, you can definitely use part-time locum work as a way to supplement your income or sharpen your clinical skills beyond what your current full-time workplace provides. As mentioned in the last article, transparency and clear communication with your recruiter will go a long way toward helping the agency find exactly the roles and schedule(s) you want, so make sure you communicate your desired availability — and the phone will only ring with jobs when you’re ready to take them.

3. Current Staff Will Be Cold or Unhelpful

You’ve probably worked in a facility with a staffing issue. If so, you understand just how draining picking up a portion of a colleague’s added workload can be, and thus why the thought that existing staff in the facilities you visit as a locum will be unhelpful, unfriendly, or cold is so inaccurate.

To the contrary, locum professionals routinely report a deep sense of gratitude from patients and colleagues alike. You’re ensuring they respectively receive prompt attention and a lighter workload, after all. Most of the people you temporarily work with will definitely understand you’re there to make their jobs easier and their patient loads lighter — it’s hard to give the cold shoulder to anyone providing that service.

4. Patients Won’t Trust You

If anything, this myth probably comes from locums who’ve experienced the rare patient who demands to be seen by the clinician they’re used to. In reality, while a startlingly high number of Americans tend to distrust the medical system as a whole, they’re still quite likely to trust “their” physician.

As such, professionals worried about establishing patient trust in a short-term role should keep a few factors in mind. First is the fact that most patients won’t put up a squabble about seeing a clinician outside the one they’re used to, especially if that clinician is a chosen stand-in. Second, the rare handful who do can usually be won over by the usual trust-building techniques, including openness, honesty, and clear communication. Third, many locum locations, including hospitals and walk-in clinics, are less about recurring visits and more about one-off care.

Moreover, in the rare event trust becomes a big enough issue to impact your performance, you are always free to contact your recruiter about a change in role or focus. In all, then, you can weigh trust like you would in a standard full-time placement: It’s rarely a problem, and there are tools in place to help you when it is.

Is locum tenens right for you? Take our short quiz to find out today.

Evan Wade
About Evan Wade

Evan Wade is a professional writer, journalist, and editor based in Indianapolis. He has extensive experience in news, feature, and copy writing in the healthcare field, with specialties in technology, human-interest stories, and addiction science. Contact him on Twitter: @wadefreelance.

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