A Rough Patch on the Locum Road


Well it’s been a while since my last blog post, which was written way back at Christmas time when I was contemplating the future and wondering what adventures 2014 would bring. Back then, my locum schedule was looking pretty amazing. I had been smugly picking and choosing from a vast smorgasbord of work that had been offered to me, and filling up the calendar with plans to re-visit a few favourites from 2013 (Albany and Kununurra) and check out three promising new places (Broome, Esperance and Port Hedland).

But the locum road is not always smooth, and the last few weeks have had some pretty rough patches with a number of jobs falling through for one reason or another. The dates didn’t work out with one practice, a confirmation email went missing with another, false assumptions led to misunderstandings and cancelled plans. This has resulted in some anxious moments when I feared that I wasn’t going to be able to fulfill my MRBS requirements and would have to suffer the serious consequences of a breach of contract. It’s times like these that make me wonder why I’m crazy enough to keep doing this locum thing, and questioning why I don’t just exchange the chaos and uncertainty for the predictability and stability that comes with settling in one place.

But uncertainty is an inevitable consequence of freedom and flexibility, and that part of the lifestyle is pretty damn addictive.

Case in point; after taking a few weeks off over Christmas, instead of heading back to work like a responsible adult I made the last minute decision to spend most of January gallivanting around Japan. I had an amazing time and felt incredibly lucky to have been able to go overseas, for no better reason than “because I can”. No need to worry about applying for leave, organising cover or trying to check up on patients’ results remotely. What a ridiculously good life I have.

A very different section of road

A very different section of road

So it was a bit of a thud back to the real world when I returned home to an urgent need to scramble together some work, with rapidly diminshing options. Enter social media to the rescue! After venting my frustrations on Facebook, an old colleague from my obstetrics training days contacted me to see if I wanted to come to Kalgoorlie. Hallelujah – at the eleventh hour my February & March requirements would be met and I wouldn’t be subject to the wrath of the Department of Health. Phew! Of course, trying to arranging a medicare provider number and obtaining hospital credentialling in just over a week was a feat in itself.  But here I am on my way to Kalgoorlie, ready to start back at work after what seems like a very long break and feeling cautiously optimistic about the months ahead.

The plan? Four locum jobs in three different towns booked between now and the end of May: Kalgoorlie, Port Hedland and Broome, with a pretty even mix between private GP/obstetrics, AMS and hospital DMO positions. I’m also sneaking in a week in Queensland to hang out with friends and family and attend the epic SMACC conference which I’m very excited about. It should be an interesting and diverse few months ahead, although I will admit to feeling tired already at the prospect of being away from home for 12 out of the next 15 weeks!

By the time we hit mid-year I really hope that I’m finally ready to stop procrastinating and just make a decision and pick somewhere to settle. I’m sure that by then I’ll have been driven completely crazy by the constant in-and-out of airports, having to learn the names of new workmates every few weeks, the never being able to find anything and the unsatisfyingly brief connections with patients. And yet… maybe the joy of discovering beautiful places, meeting new people and the need to fulfill my wanderlust will always keep me wanting “just one more locum”!

Time will tell, dear readers. Stay tuned to see how it all turns out…

4 thoughts on “A Rough Patch on the Locum Road

  1. Locuming can certainly be a rocky road (in terms of journey, not the ice-cream flavour, of course). Do you guys have locum chambers in Oz? Happy to answer any questions about them and what sot of things you’d need to do to set one up.

  2. Kalgoorlie is brilliant I grew up 5hrs from there when I was younger before we moved and then I was there for a bit 2 yrs ago its a great place you’ll love it. The Albion hotels good for some tucker, the view on hannans is good to stay at and the restaurant next door to it is pretty good too. Hope this helps you.

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