How Ongoing Locum Doctors Make A Significant Impact to Rural Communities

By Melinda McCarthy published on 21/02/2024 locum doctor, Locum work, Rural Generalism, Emergency Medicine Jobs, General Practice, Indigenous Health /

Locum doctors are pivotal in providing medical services, especially in underserved communities. Their transient nature, however, can make it challenging to establish long-lasting patient relationships.

This article explores how locum doctors can effectively build and maintain strong patient relationships through long-term assignments or regular, ongoing FIFO (Fly-In, Fly-Out) contracts and why this benefits patients and doctors.

The Importance of Patient Relationships for Locum Doctors

Strong patient-doctor relationships are not just about improving the patient experience. They have a direct impact on patient outcomes and community health.

When patients trust their doctor, they are more likely to adhere to treatment plans and engage in preventative care. Building this trust can be challenging for locum doctors due to short assignments, but it's not impossible.

Long-Term Locum Work and Continuity of Care

Long-term locum roles allow doctors to work in the same community over an extended period. This continuity of care allows locum doctors to become familiar faces to patients, fostering trust and rapport.

Studies have shown that long-term locum doctors can achieve comparable patient outcomes to permanent staff, highlighting the effectiveness of continuity in building strong doctor-patient relationships.

 FIFO Doctor Contracts - A Route to Consistency

FIFO contracts provide another avenue for locum doctors to maintain consistency in patient care. By regularly returning to the same communities, FIFO locum doctors can develop ongoing patient relationships, enhancing the level of care and understanding between doctor and patient.

Some of our current ongoing FIFO vacancies

Port Stephens NSW | ED CMO + GP VMO

  • FIFO or secure an ongoing contract at locum rate
  • You’ll have the choice of ED day, ED night shifts, or a mix of both
  • full-time (5 days per week) or part-time (7 days on, 7 days off) with salary ranges of between $450k pa (part-time) - $819k pa (full-time) for 6 months of work.

Wellington NSW | GP VMO

  • $3000 per day
  • Covering a busy ED & Wards
  • GP VMO is on-site from 8am- 10pm + on call overnight as required for triage 1, 2 & 3. 
  • Various 7-day blocks are available now through to Jan 2025

South Australia - ED RMO

  • $140 per hour
  • Flights and accommodation provided
  • 5 - 7 day blocks
  • Day shifts: 1000 - 2030 | Night Shifts: 1830 - 0500

Huon Valley Tasmania - VR GP

  • $1350 per day or 70% of billings
  •  Appointments booked between 8.30am – 4.30pm
  • No on-call or weekend work
  • Local Doctor preferred

Yorketown SA - GP/ED

  • $2400 per day
  • 6 days on 7 days off
  • Private air transfers can be arranged with a plane charter so you can enjoy the luxury of flying

Strategies for Building Patient Trust as a Locum

Building trust as a locum doctor involves good communication skills, consistency in healthcare delivery, cultural competence, and community involvement. Locum doctors can engage patients in their care through clear and empathetic communication. Through demonstrating consistency and cultural competence, they can show patients they understand and respect their needs and concerns.

Challenges and Solutions in Maintaining Patient Rapport

Locum doctors face unique challenges in maintaining patient rapport. The transient nature of their work can disrupt continuity of care. However, by implementing best practices such as thorough handovers and maintaining regular contact with patients, they can ensure that their relationships with patients remain strong even when they are away.

The Role of Locum Doctors in Community Health

In the long run, locum doctors can profoundly impact community health. By providing consistent, high-quality care, they can help to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities in underserved communities. Personal stories from patients and locum doctors attest to this impact, highlighting the value of their work.

While the journey of a locum doctor can be challenging, the potential to build meaningful, long-lasting patient relationships is immense. By prioritising patient relationships and continuity of care, locum doctors can improve patient outcomes and enrich their professional experience.

By building strong locum doctor-patient relationships and ensuring continuity of care, locum doctors can improve healthcare delivery and outcomes in their communities. Whether through long-term assignments or regular FIFO contracts, these doctors can make a real difference in patients' lives.

If you're a doctor wanting to rejuvenate your medical career, a rural locum is worth considering. Email [email protected] to set up an informal, no-obligation chat.

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