Being a medical locum agency doctor can be extremely rewarding, which is why the number of locums has doubled since 2009! The benefits you reap as an agency doctor is what continues to encourage over 1000 doctors each year to take the next step in their medical career and choose to work as locums. If you are considering following the path of so many other doctors, but aren’t entirely sure what being a medical locum doctor can do for you, allow us to explain…
Why join a medical locum agency?
As one of the leading medical recruitment agencies in the UK, we can confirm that there is a whole host of advantages when it comes to being a locum doctor. In many cases, the wage you earn as a locum doctor is better than the pay of a full-time doctor – but this is not the only reason that attracts so many doctors to go locum. The experience you can get as a locum doctor is invaluable as you will have the opportunity to work in a multitude of hospitals and primary care units. The regular change of scenery and the extremely rewarding nature of the job itself is an excellent way of dealing with workplace stress, meaning the passion you have for your career is never dampened. By partnering up with a medical locum agency, you are freed from the burden of arranging your own business and can relax while work is found for you. With the NHS under intense pressure, the demand for locum doctors is constantly growing. With this in mind, you can feel at ease knowing you are investing yourself into a stable career with so much opportunity to progress.
When working as a freelance GP, you have greater control over when and where you work. Having the freedom to take time off allows you to organise your personal life more effectively and create an improved work-life balance. As a medical locum agency doctor, you can easily increase your working hours if you want to earn extra money. Alternatively, if you want to treat yourself to a holiday or book time off to spend time with family, decreasing your hours is also an option. Due to personal preference, it is not uncommon for locum doctors to find certain practices more enjoyable to work in than others. If you find there is a particular practice you do not like working at, you can simply choose not to book more shifts there and look for work elsewhere.
The flexibility of being a locum doctor is an excellent solution to dealing with the physically and mentally demanding aspects of the job. In fact, along with careers in education, health and welfare professions are the most stressful in the UK. Working in such an intense environment means you must take time away every now and then to destress and maintain a healthy family and social life. Although being a locum doctor offers the flexibility to change your working hours to suit your needs, there are also other ways which you can relieve workplace stress. Although an occasional day off to recuperate can be very helpful, you should also try these stress busters.
Unlike full-time doctors who have a fixed salary, locum doctors, like most freelance shift workers, are typically paid on an hourly basis. Previously, being a locum doctor was one of the most lucrative career paths in the medical field as there was no cap on their pay. Although this changed in 2015 when NHS trusts implemented an hourly rate for locum doctor’s, the pay is still competitive. In an article published by The British Medical Association, it details a guideline to the hourly rates hospitals should follow for locum doctors. The ceiling of hourly rates produced by The Pan London Bank and Agency Steering Group are:
- £20 per hour for foundation doctors
- £50-£67 for associate specialists
- Maximum rate of £100 per hour for an emergency medicine consultant working during anti-social hours
Although the above rates are not standardised across the whole of the UK, they give you an idea of the wage you can expect to earn after joining a locum agency for doctors. To put things into perspective, if you are a locum working full time and occasionally covering evening and weekend shifts, you can expect to earn £100,000+ a year. Without the added evening and weekend shifts, you can still earn an impressive £75,000+ per year. It should be noted that these impressive salaries are considerably more than that of a regular full-time doctor. According to the different doctor pay grades in 2018, a specialty doctor earns a basic salary of £39,060 to £72,840 and a consultant could earn anything between £77,913 to £105,042 per year.
Enhance your professional skills
Locum doctor jobs offer varied work, allowing you to gain practical experience in a broad spectrum of medical settings and scenarios. Working in different environments allows you to expand your knowledge, as you will experience many different ways of working. As a result, you will be able to identify the best ways in which you can fulfil your duties as a doctor, and avoid practices which may not work as well. Another positive that comes with working in a variety of settings is that you do not have to get involved in internal politics or bureaucracy. The concept of being able to attend your workplace, deal with your patients, and then leaving with the possibility you may not return to the same practice can be quite refreshing.
Moreover, a lot of doctors find that working in a number of environments as a locum is an excellent way to find the perfect long term employer. Having first-hand experience working at a practice for a limited time almost acts as a ‘trial shift’, which serves as a good indication of whether you could commit to that particular practice for a permanent position.
Ever heard of the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? While extensive knowledge is essential for a successful career in healthcare, having connections within the sector could be just what you need to land your dream occupation. As a full-time doctor, being restricted to the same place of work and conversing with the same professionals all the time can make it hard to network effectively. However, being a locum doctor eradicates this issue entirely. The working schedule of a locum agency doctor is, to an extent, unpredictable. It is likely that during your time as a locum doctor, you will have to work in new and unfamiliar hospitals or GP surgeries. Although this may take some getting used to, as an erratic routine will force you to dive straight in at the deep end, it is guaranteed to be valuable. Not only will you gain knowledge and experience from a number of medical professionals, but a successful long term locum placement in a particular speciality can provide useful contacts and references for you if you decide to progress in that area. If you want to advance your medical career through networking, take a look at Verywell Health’s useful article which informs you of 8 professional networking tips for healthcare professionals.
Rewarding healthcare professions
Working in the medical world, like any profession, has both advantages and disadvantages. However, an occupation in healthcare offers a stimulating working environment, high earning potential, and most notably, literally changes lives! With this in mind, it’s safe to say the pros of a career in healthcare far outweigh the cons. If our article has sparked your interest and you are considering joining our agency, take a look at the other sectors we work alongside to offer high-quality temporary and permanent staff.