Locum Tenens Week is Aug. 14th-18th. In celebration, we asked Dr. Lee B. to share his experiences and offer advice for physicians considering embarking on a career as a locum provider. Dr. B. began his locum journey with Wapiti nine years ago. He and his wife, Tonnie, have been married for 25 years and live in Delta, Colorado. They have two grown children.
Why did you become a locum provider?
“I was in private practice, and I was tired of the grind of the clinic, hospital, OB, and keeping a practice up and running, so I responded to an ad of Wapiti’s that was in the AFP journal.
The time that it allows me to be at home for extended periods and adjust my schedule to take extended vacations or be present for big life events for my family is a big draw. I also find it rewarding to feel appreciated by the hospital staff I have worked with and the patients who thank me for being there for them.
Navigating new facilities
Expect that it will take some time to figure out the power structure of each location, and it is best to sit back and observe for several shifts before you give too strong of an opinion on workflows, staffing, and policies unless it is compromising patient care at the time. There are several ways to run a small hospital, and most places don’t want to hear, “In my last hospital, this is how we did things, and you need to do it the same way.”
Value other staff members
As always, be good to the nurses, and ask for their input on patient care, as many have significant experience that might differ from yours. I have been in medicine for over 25 years and still learn things from staff that make me a better doctor. I have also found it helpful to share things about myself and my family with staff as that makes you more approachable and relatable.
Travel issues are just part of the gig, be ready to sit and wait in airports if you have to fly to work like I do. I have been loyal to United, and I have a great status with them, so when things do go sideways, it helps to jump ahead of people for standby seats, etc. I have signed up with several rental car companies to get the perks of just grabbing keys and going if possible. Get a travel-based credit card and only use it for business expenses so that it is easy to track the costs when it comes to tax time. Don’t use cash when traveling for work; you must keep receipts, which is a huge pain.
Locum Tenens Week Did You Know: Wapiti has a dedicated logistics team that books and handles flights, car rentals, accommodations, and other travel details. Additionally, our 24/7 on-call team can assist with unexpected logistical hurdles such as bad weather and flight delays. Our providers are never alone when they’re on the road.
Set up an LLC in your name and have dedicated checking and savings accounts that you use only for business transactions. Pay your savings account 25%-30% of every payday to have on hand quarterly tax payments you must make. A good CPA helps determine what business expenses you can write off.”
Thank you, Dr. B., for sharing your insights during Locum Tenens Week and for being a valued Wapiti team member.
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