Locum Tenens Psychiatrist Opts for Career Flexibility

Amid tremendous demand, locum tenens psychiatrists enjoy the freedom to choose assignments, locations and practice settings across the United States.

“Flexibility is the greatest advantage about locum psychiatry,” said 
Alexandre Geronian, MD, a locum tenens psychiatrist with Staff Care based in Langhorne, Pennsylvania.  

Embracing the locum life

Geronian began working locum psychiatry weekend assignments at a children’s hospital in New Jersey to earn extra money in 2016 while still in his residency.  

“It worked out well financially, and I was gaining experience,” he said. “Why not?”

Geronian decided to continue working as a
locum tenens psychiatrist after completing his residency program and said he has no regrets.

Initially, he thought he would find a place he really enjoyed and would accept a permanent psychiatrist job. That didn’t happen. He worked a part-time job for four years, while still practicing as a locum tenens psychiatrist.

“Now, I am just doing locums,” Geronian said.

One benefit of locum psychiatry is the option to travel around the country, but Geronian is currently choosing to stay closer to home to spend time with his wife and small child.

In fact, in his current locum tenens position, he provides telemedicine visits, working remotely from home. He has noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of remote psychiatry visits , which are more convenient for patients and physicians. Additionally, no-show rates are much lower with telemedicine, which translates to better quality of care, he said.

Enjoying the benefits of working locum tenens

Geronian appreciates the flexibility of locum psychiatry jobs. He aims to avoid a full-time, five-days-per-week permanent psychiatrist job, and the long-term commitment that comes with such positions.

He prefers choosing when and where he works, including the length of time he will work at a position and the ease of scheduling time off for vacations.

“The best thing about locums is you can work in different settings—inpatient, outpatient, addiction, eating disorders, state hospitals, prisons,” Geronian said. “With locums, you are always learning.”

Geronian reports that there are plenty of locum psychiatry positions available because of the shortage of psychiatrists in the country, which started long before the COVID-19 pandemic. But the COVID crisis has negatively affected people’s mental health, adding to the need. He reported that about 30 million or more people in the country need the care of a psychiatrist.

That pandemic has left people with anxiety, depression and substance abuse problems, as people stayed home and drank more alcohol and took drugs.

“Addiction is huge,” Geronian said. “From 2000, it’s getting worse. There were more than 70,000 deaths from overdoses [in 2019], and it does not look like it is going to get better.”

What’s the most rewarding aspect of what he does? “Helping people,” Geronian said. “You reach an expertise and knowledge about what to do next.” And patients improve, particularly with the appropriate medications.

Although working locum tenens does not provide all of the traditional employment benefits, Geronian finds that the income he receives allows him to pay for health insurance and make a good living. Staff Care also provides malpractice insurance and professional liability coverage for their locum providers, and those that choose to travel can get their housing and travel expenses covered.

Thinking of a locum psychiatrist job?

According to Geronian, one key to a successful locum psychiatry career is finding the right recruiter—someone who will connect you with the most appropriate locum positions and negotiate on your behalf. 

“Keary [Gauff] is a great guy and is on my side,” Geronian said, referencing his
Staff Care recruiter. “That’s a huge plus, having your ‘own’ agent.” 

Geronian also recommended psychiatrists considering locum jobs try working in different settings and with patients who have different conditions and severity of their issues.

“You continue to learn,” he said. “It requires lifelong learning.”

Geronian has typically found colleagues pleased with his arrival on the unit, as he is there to fill in a vacancy or provide additional support. He often collaborates with nurse practitioners and physician assistants as he works to provide high-quality care. All in all, he finds that his locum work pays both professional and personal dividends.

“Quality of life is the most important value to me, and I live a healthier life [as a locum] tenens,” he concluded.

Learn more:
Locum Tenens Psychiatry Jobs and Salaries 
COVID Crisis Making Psychiatrist and Psychologist Jobs Plentiful 

Interested in a
locum tenens psychiatrist job, or another opportunity in behavioral health?

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