By Debra Wood, RN, contributor Feb 26, 2019
Feeling stressed? Fighting physician
burnout? Thinking about working locum tenens but not sure if it is the right
solution for you?
A new book on this exciting
practice option—written by a physician who experienced the locum lifestyle for
a number of years—may help you find the answers.
The Locum Life: A Physician’s Guide to
by Andrew Wilner, MD, FAAN, FACP, associate professor of neurology at the
University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, was published in
benefits of the locum lifestyle
In the book, Wilner explains the
basics of locum tenens and how it allows clinicians to practice how they always
wanted—focused on the patient, and not the business side of medicine.
“I found locum tenens relaxing
and rewarding,” he said. “It’s time limited, and you are so appreciated.”
Locum tenens jobs provide unique options for
physicians to achieve work–life balance.
“Locums lets you dial it down,”
Wilner said. “You can work six months a year or eight months a year, and you
can choose. It’s a different commitment. You don’t have administrative
Gone are meetings and managing
staff. There are no worries about patient payments or insurance reimbursements.
Someone else handles all of those responsibilities.
“You show up and practice
medicine,” said Wilner, adding that locums work lets physicians discover that “medicine
is fun again.”
It also offers a wealth of
opportunities. As a locum tenens physician, Wilner worked at The Mayo Clinic in
Phoenix, Arizona; twice at the University of Minnesota, teaching residents; and
at an outpatient neurology clinic in Massachusetts.
The flexibility factor
said he started with Staff Care because it was a large
agency with many opportunities.
“I’ve had wonderful experiences with Staff Care,” Wilner
said, adding that he stayed with the company because of Angie Scarle, a senior
“She found me great assignments,” he explained. “It’s really
important that your recruiter understands what you want and will look out for
your best interest.”
as a temporary physician helped Wilner to figure out how he wanted to practice
in the next phase of his life.
“Locums gave me the opportunity
to see many different practices,” he said. “I developed clarity.”
Once married, Wilner and his
wife traveled together to locum tenens assignments, and he kept looking for and
negotiating the perfect permanent position, feeling no pressure to accept
something because he had the temporary physician work.
As he tells his residents,
locums is an incredible tool that gives you flexibility in your career to get
new experiences and try out different practices while earning a good income.
path to locum tenens
Ever since completing his
residency training, Wilner has wanted to write. He has successfully combined
practicing medicine with authoring books and articles. In fact, The Locum Life
is his fourth book.
After working part-time in an
emergency department, Wilner discovered his interest in neurology and epilepsy.
He completed a neurology residency and epilepsy fellowship, then joined a group
practice in North Carolina to help create an epilepsy center. Yet Wilner still
had a yen for a more academic life and writing papers.
“Every job I applied for I
realized I did not want,” Wilner said. “But I still needed to work.”
Wilner then started covering
medical conferences and enjoyed that and compiled a book of essays, Bullets and Brains
. However, even with
publishing success, he did not want his clinical skills to become rusty. He
became a neurohospitalist, working seven days on and seven days off.
“That made me realize locum
tenens would work for me,” Wilner said. “I could work three months on and then
three months off.”
He accepted an assignment in
South Dakota and then took time off to scuba dive and film underwater, and do
medical mission work in the Philippines. And so began his long career as a
“Locums became a life saver,”
Wilner said. “It was fantastic.”Learning
are key to a good locum tenens experience, Wilner discovered. Not only will
they work to find an assignment that matches the physician’s interest, recruiters
also can negotiate a higher salary or better hours, which is something
physicians often do not like to do.
Yet practitioners have to
approach each assignment with the right attitude.
“Being a locums is like being a
guest in someone else’s house,” said Wilner, adding that colleagues are
extremely grateful for the help you can provide. “Locums requires personal flexibility.
You have to feel out the way things are done and merge, or sense how to fit
Additionally, he said, locum
tenens physicians must be confident in their skills. Sometimes, the locum
physician is at an assignment alone, with no senior physician to ask about a
Armed with a number of stories
about practicing as a locum tenens physician, Wilner wrote The Locum Life
to help “anyone who wants to do locums to be
successful.” It includes practical advice about how to get started, and covers
topics like licensure, travel expenses, malpractice coverage and more. It also
includes stories from other locum tenens physicians who share best and worst
experiences, common challenges and advice for other clinicians considering the
Locum Life: A Physician’s Guide to Locum Tenens
is available through all major
booksellers. You can follow Dr. Wilner’s blog at www.andrewwilner.com/blog
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