A career as a locum has rapidly increased in popularity in recent years due to the wealth of benefits this rewarding path promises. For example, perhaps you’re a qualified nurse but have been unable to take a permanent role in a hospital, practice or clinic and need something to provide a steady income whilst also fitting around your schedule. Becoming a locum healthcare worker will allow for a balance between time, money and availability, allowing you to reach your full potential.
Whether you’re considering swapping to temporary roles or would like to take on locum shifts alongside your permanent employment, there are many factors to consider. This article will guide you through the benefits and what to expect, ultimately answering the question, what is a locum?
What Is A Locum? A Comprehensive Guide
Having spent decades working closely with locum healthcare workers to secure roles across the country, our team prides itself on taking a personal approach. We are committed to ensuring that all of our healthcare professionals are happy with their decision to take the locum route and can continue to fulfil a rewarding career regardless of their workplace requirements.
This article provides a stepping stone towards your career as a locum, detailing what you can expect from the role, the fantastic benefits and the journey to becoming a locum. And as always, if you have any further questions, our team are always more than happy to help.
The word ‘locum’ is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase ‘locum tenens’, which means ‘place holder’. It is used to describe a healthcare professional that temporarily fills the role and rota gap of a regular staff member in a healthcare clinic, hospital or medical practice. Typically placements are on a short-term basis to cover an absence, cater to an increase in patients or fill a shortfall in a rota. However, it isn’t uncommon for a locum role to cover an extended period of time, such as maternity leave.
A locum nurse, doctor or other healthcare worker fulfils the same responsibilities as a permanent member, providing direct patient care, administering medications, assisting with procedures, monitoring patients’ conditions, and communicating with other healthcare team members to ensure coordinated and quality care. In other words, they are crucial for ensuring that operations can continue running smoothly, even if regular members of the team are on leave.
Locum healthcare workers have the flexibility to work in different healthcare settings and locations. Both private and NHS facilities welcome locum professionals and use specialist agencies, such as our healthcare recruitment team at Medical-Locums Group, to fill gaps in their rotas.
There are many advantages awarded to those who are interested in locuming, from flexibility to financial benefits. Learn more about why thousands of professionals continue to opt for locum healthcare jobs every year:
As a locum, you will have the freedom to choose when and where you want to work. You can take on placements that fit your schedule and personal preferences, allowing for a better work-life balance. This is not only ideal for those with family commitments but also for healthcare professionals who have spent many years working long hours and want to ease the pressure – many even opt for locuming as they reach retirement age to slowly wind down their hours.
The flexibility of locuming means that if you need extra income, you can simply pick up more shifts and then revert to your regular hours once you are in a comfortable position. Unlike in a permanent role where you will need to change your contract altogether, as a locum, the process will be as straightforward as contacting your recruitment agency to temporarily scale up or down your shift requirements.
As well as the option to locum full-time, many healthcare professionals also opt for picking up locum shifts alongside their permanent role. This, again, is ideal for earning additional income as and when it is needed.
Higher Earning Potential
Locum healthcare workers often have the potential to earn higher wages compared to regular staff. The demand for temporary healthcare professionals can lead to increased pay rates and additional benefits, so if you are happy to take on last-minute shifts in possibly trickier facilities, you may see your financial rewards increase.
Test-Drive Different Settings
For healthcare professionals who are considering a permanent change in their career, working as a locum allows you to “test-drive” different healthcare settings before committing to a specific facility or specialty. For example, at Medical-Locums Group, we fill placements across many sectors, from midwifery to mental health nursing. The possibilities are endless, and providing that you have the relevant qualifications for the role, locuming offers the perfect opportunity to experiment. For more information on the many different specialties you can consider, take a look at our previous article.
Develop Your Experience
Working in diverse healthcare settings and specialties can broaden your skill set and knowledge, making locuming particularly popular amongst newly qualified healthcare workers who want to build up their CVs before seeking a permanent role. Exposure to various medical cases and practices is guaranteed to make you more versatile, allowing you to develop empathy, adaptability, and resilience as you face new and unique circumstances. And even better, the more placements you fill, the broader network of professional contacts you build, which can be valuable for future career opportunities.
Much like any role in the healthcare sector, becoming a locum involves several steps to ensure you gain the training, qualifications and experience needed to provide patients with the highest level of care. Here is what you can expect from your journey:
Obtain An Undergraduate Degree
You must ensure you have studied the correct and necessary A Levels related to medicine, such as biology, chemistry, maths and physics, which are most medical schools’ minimum requirements. From here, you can apply to study medicine at an undergraduate level at the university of your choice; this will prepare you and provide you with all the base knowledge you will need for a job within the healthcare industry.
Whilst at university, one of the best ways to broaden your experience at an undergraduate level is through internships, either during or outside of your term time. These may involve working in several different facilities or environments that are new to you, such as hospitals, clinics or GP surgeries. For more intense environments, you may want to enlist with a reserve military as an intern combat medic which will have beneficial and transferable skills for further career development prospects.
After obtaining your undergraduate degree, the medical industry requires you to get a postgraduate degree in a specialist field or general practice at a medical school or university. This will provide you with valuable and extensive experience that will further prepare you for the actual working life of a locum, as it involves more advanced research and learning opportunities.
Register With A Professional Regulatory Body
To become a locum, you must register with the relevant regulatory body, such as the Nursing & Midwifery Council and General Medical Council. These provide you with a licence to grant you permission to practise, which also counts as the right to work in the UK. After this, you will be able to register with our services and continue your journey to becoming a locum healthcare worker.
Join A Locum Recruitment Agency
The best way to secure placements as a locum is to register with a recruitment agency, as they will find shifts that meet your requirements on your behalf. At Medical-Locums Group, we work in partnership with both public and private sectors nationwide, offering a 24/7 365 service.
Once you have registered with us, you will be paired with a dedicated consultant who will manage all of your placements. With an extensive database of clients across the healthcare sector, we ensure that you find roles that suit your training, experience and personal preferences. For more information on our nursing jobs, please do not hesitate to contact our team.
Begin Your Journey With Us Today
If you believe that becoming a locum is the correct career path for you, then please do not hesitate to register with us now, and we will connect you to a skilled and qualified consultant who will assist you in finding the most suitable placements for you. Being a locum nurse, doctor or other healthcare worker requires many years of hard work, commitment and hard dedication, however at the end of the road, with our assistance, you will finally be able to allow yourself to settle and feel relaxed in your career path, whilst also reaping all of the benefits we outlined in this article!