For some people, retirement means Florida, gardening, and golfing. Barbara L.’s version of retirement is traveling the country as a locum tenens nurse practitioner (NP). “This is my idea of retirement,” Barbara said about her locums career. “I still have to work, so I’d rather go traveling.”
Getting into locums
Even before Barbara became a locum, she was traveling. After becoming an NP, Barbara taught at the University of Hawaii, wrote online nursing courses for a company in Colorado, practiced at a rural health clinic in Arizona, and worked for a network of family practice offices that served the underserved population in the Denver area. About two years ago, Barbara grew tired of working in the corporate world and decided that she wanted to work on her own as a “free agent.” She was aware that locum tenens opportunities were available to physicians and RNs, and looked into whether were any locum tenens NP jobs. Her search led her to Barton Associates, where she registered to be contacted by a recruiter.
Shortly thereafter, she received a phone call. “I came home and my husband said that a girl named Annie called, and I just liked her name,” Barbara said. “We really hit it off. I just think she is the greatest and I don’t want to work for anybody but Barton.” After working with Barton for nearly two years, Barbara has taken assignments in Connecticut, Wyoming, Iowa, and Colorado. She went to a tulip festival, where there were no tulips, in Des Moines and had a close encounter with a Buffalo on the plains of Colorado. No matter where Barbara has traveled, she says her experiences with her patients have been wonderful, and she keeps in touch with many of them via email.
Advice for NPs considering a locums career
Barbara has words of encouragement for any NPs who are considering a locum tenens career. “Jump in. Face your fears. You’ll be amazed.” One of the advantages of a locum tenens NP career is the opportunity to practice in different settings and gain new experience. Barbara said that working in the city allows NPs to use new technology and treatment options, but she considers the assignments she has completed in rural settings among the most challenging and rewarding. “In a rural clinic, there are more opportunities to experience new things,” Barbara said. “You have to learn how to work with limited resources.” She also said that nurses and NPs that practice in a rural setting are often best equipped for locum tenens work because they have a broad range of experience. At the same time, NPs who have never worked in a rural setting can learn a lot by taking a locum tenens assignment in such an area.