Locum work may sound like the dream job for those wanting a sea change or tree change, but not everybody is cut out for it, says Sydney-based medical recruiter Rob Jefferies.
It takes a certain kind of person to make it work, says Jefferies, who has placed 60 locums across the country in recent months though recruitment firm Wavelength.
“We place GPs in general practice all over Australia and we also place people in Aboriginal medical services and in rural hospitals,” he says.
“Often they’re the only doctor in charge in the hospital so these guys can work a 12-hour shift and then be on call during the night.
“It’s very tough.”
But Jefferies says a lot of doctors love the varied work and the flexibility that comes with the locum life.
“It depends on what sort of line of work they are doing,” he says.
“We do GP obstetricians, GP anaesthetists and GP emergency department placements so the cases they see are very varied.
“They could be working in ED, doing ward rounds and then doing a bit of general practice as well.”
Jefferies says the pay is also a drawcard with hospitals paying anything from $1600 - $2000 per shift for a senior medical officer plus all travel and accommodation expenses.
“Rural and remote practices tend to pay anything from $1200 to $1400 per day to the GP and will normally include accommodation, flights and travel expenses, and car hire for the duration of the locum.
“The same applies to Aboriginal medical services.”
For those interested in working in the bigger cities, the market rate for a GP locum in a metro area is about $150 per hour, and sometimes more for after-hours or weekend work.
“It’s a fascinating market,” Jefferies says. “I can’t believe how much demand is out there and I can’t see the need ever changing.
“There’s a dearth of doctors that want permanent work in these areas, so locums are vital.”
GP obstetrician and international medical graduate Dr Ikenna Ilechukwu has been working as a “career locum” for the past five years. Primarily based in Parkes NSW, he spends about three weeks a month working as a visiting medical officer at the Parkes Hospital and a week on the move doing locum work “anywhere in Australia”.
Dr Ike, as he is known, reckons this hybrid role gives him the best of both worlds.
“The main thing for me is the travel and variety,” the Nigerian doctor says.
“Some people are more comfortable doing Monday to Friday 8am-5pm but I would be bored doing that all the time. Being a locum is exciting and the pay is good.”