By Dr. George Bunch, MD Jul 31, 2017
George Bunch, M.D., shares his locum tenens travel story in this classic from the Locums Link Blog, originally published in 2009.
I am working three half days per week at Pediatric Clinic in Watsonville (Migrant Farm Work Community) to help a group that is short of Pediatricians now. It keeps me up on my clinical & Spanish skills as well as providing some income during "retirement." By working nearby, a 30-minute drive, I can work part time and have more free time for my bicycling, time with Grandchildren, hiking, jogging, etc.
I have worked locum tenens for one year since retiring from my private practice of 35 years in Las Vegas, New Mexico. I have mostly worked for two local solo practice pediatricians in Watsonville, California, and Capitola, California, to allow them time off. This work has ranged from two days to two weeks at a time.
The two weeks’ work was for one pediatrician's trip with his wife to her homeland and for the Lenten Carnival Festival in Brazil. My only work outside the Bay Area was two weeks in Carlsbad, New Mexico, for Staff Care, covering for a solo practice pediatrician on vacation to his native India.
Tales from the Road: Locum Jobs in California & New Mexico
My two weeks in Carlsbad, New Mexico, was 30 miles from my hometown of Artesia, New Mexico. During the visit, I saw high school classmates and visited with cousins who I had not seen in 45 years. I toured the Carlsbad Caverns and Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area, both favorite haunts of my childhood years. Each afternoon I would jog along the Pecos River Town Lake Park past my former (1950s) Boy Scouts Aquatic Camp and waterfront activities from my days in scouting, including taking my own Boy Scout Troop from Las Vegas, New Mexico, in the mid 1980s.
In Carlsbad I saw an eight-year-old gymnast with chest pain sudden onset during running at school during recess. She was anxious but in no distress and said the pain was better and that she had no respiratory symptoms. Her exam was normal including BP, pulse, temp, but family history revealed that her grandparents had both died in their 50s from heart trouble and an uncle had had heart surgery as a child and required continuing cardiac care for unknown reasons. A call to a pediatric cardiologist in Albuquerque recommended that we get an ECG, but that he doubted that this was a cardiac problem. After arriving at the hospital for ECG, the child or a friend revealed that she had fallen off the monkey bars at school, so a chest x-ray was obtained. The x-ray showed a large round foreign body in mid-sternum. The child then admitted that when she fell off the monkey bars she had swallowed a quarter!!! The quarter was removed and the child did well!
During locums work I have enjoyed meeting new people and helping them through various childhood illnesses, well child care and other issues. During my work in Carlsbad it was especially interesting to meet many patients from my hometown of Artesia, many of whom had received medical care and some even were delivered by my father who was a general practitioner in Artesia for 40 years. While there I attended one of my high school's football games where I saw several former classmates.
One drawback of locums work is not knowing the patients, their illnesses and the referral facilities and providers in the area. I would recommend locums work to anyone who enjoys new adventures, is friendly, likes to meet new people and is willing to improvise with limited or unknown resources.
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