By Jennifer Larson, contributor Nov 20, 2019
It’s the most wonderful time of the year—despite the extra stress and
work that can accompany the holiday season. In fact, clinicians who work
holiday locum tenens assignments find they are a wonderful opportunity to earn
some extra cash, experience a new location and pour themselves into their
profession in a new way.
“I do this most every year and find incredible meaning in the work and
camaraderie with the staff who serve together,” said Kathryn Jarvis, MD, MBA, a
healthcare efficiency expert and CEO of Bed Beacon, LLC.
“It’s also a great opportunity to see another part of the country,”
said Debra Phairas, president of Practice & Liability Consultants, LLC.
Yet, physicians and advanced practitioners know that the holidays can
be some of the busiest times of the year, and working as a temporary clinician
has its own set of challenges. So how can you juggle it all and keep your
If you’re working a locum
tenens position over the holidays, consider these tips to help you navigate
this wonderful-yet-stressful time a little better.
10 tips for working holiday
1. Make sure your family is on board. For
many people, family support is absolutely crucial. You don’t necessarily have
to take your family along on a locum travel assignment, but you can. It will
depend on your location and contract. Whether you are simply taking on some
extra shifts close to home or traveling some distance away, your loved ones should
understand why you’re working over the holidays, what your job will entail and
what your commitment means in terms of hours or days you’ll be away. Even after
you start, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open.
2. Reschedule any favorite holiday
activities or traditions you may miss. You might be working on Thanksgiving
Day. Or maybe you’ve already agreed to take a shift on New Year’s Eve. That
doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite holiday traditions; you just
have to find a new time to hold them. Ask your family if they don’t mind having
a turkey dinner on the Friday after Thanksgiving, or find another evening to
celebrate the new year with your loved ones.
You can also use Skype, FaceTime or another application to connect with
family at gatherings that can’t be rescheduled.
3. Get a flu shot. If you haven’t already
gotten a seasonal flu vaccination, be sure to get one before you depart for
your holiday locum tenens assignment. It’s possible that your facility may
require them, anyway.
4. Anticipate likely patient scenarios. Flu season and other types of cases seem to
pop up more around this time of year, affecting the patients you will treat. A
2018 observational study in the journal BMJ reported that the
incidence of myocardial infarction tends to spike around Christmas,
notably among older and sicker patients. Jarvis noted that she’s seen a higher
number of patients with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) after eating big holiday
meals without adjusting their insulin appropriately.
5. Make an effort to get to know your new co-workers.
Even if you’re only going to be working a locum assignment for a few weeks,
it is well worth the effort to make connections with some of the people with
whom you’ll be working, said Phairas. It will it make your time at that
location more pleasant and help you work better together. Plus, you never know
when you’ll find a mentor, a kindred spirit or a life-long friend. Fellow locums
can also make great travel companions as you tour your new city and try out the
local food and festivities.
6. Expect some temporary holiday changes at
your temporary workplace. It’s not
entirely “business as usual” during a typical holiday. Just be ready for that.
“During the actual holiday, patients eat food that they don’t usually eat,”
said Jarvis. “Hospital administration is on vacation, so daily huddles don’t
happen. It feels more like a weekend than a weekday.”
7. Do your shopping online. If part of
your holiday tradition involves exchanging gifts, use the Internet more this
year to avoid the shopping mall crowds and chaos, and save some valuable time. You
can even arrange to have gifts delivered to the recipient, so you don’t have to
wrap and mail them yourself.
8. Indulge in some self-care. Be vigilant
about getting enough sleep, and make time to relax and recharge so you can
power through this hectic season. If you’re going to be staying away from home
during your holiday locum assignment, don’t be afraid to do some things just
for yourself. “Schedule a massage,” suggested Jarvis. Locums can also use their
housing stipend to stay at a slightly nicer place and pay the difference. “It’s
worth it to have that extra holiday cheer,” she added. And Phairas suggested
including a few holiday decorations in your apartment, extended stay hotel or
other temporary housing, if that makes you feel more at home.
When working a locum assignment
away from home, volunteering for a local cause can be a great way to
spend some of your off hours. Extra volunteers are often needed to serve
holiday meals to the needy, hand out food from a food pantry, or even
participate in a toy drive. “It would make you feel good about doing something in
a (new) town that would help people,” said Phairas.
where you are. Schedule in some
unique holiday experiences, wherever your locum assignment takes you. Whether
it’s a snowman-building contest in the Upper Midwest, holiday boat parades
along the West Coast, ice skating in front of the huge Christmas tree at New
York’s Rockefeller Center, or a holiday parade, concert, or festival, every
community has their own way to celebrate the season. Join in the fun and make
some holiday memories.
And remember this: you have a
chance to make a significant impact by taking on a locum tenens assignment
during this time of year. “Patients who are in the hospital during the holidays
are truly sick, so there is a bigger opportunity to help,” said Jarvis.
STAFF CARE has hundreds of assignments for physicians and advanced
practitioners across the U.S.
TALK TO A RECRUITER to find out more