What Motivates Doctors To Choose Locum Work

By , Melinda McCarthy published on 10/07/2024

Working as a locum doctor gives you the freedom and flexibility to work when and where you want. But it does have some drawbacks. We decided to survey our doctors to hear firsthand their thoughts on the pros and cons of locum work. These are the results...

We asked our doctors to nominate the top 3 factors that influence their decision to locum. Our survey revealed that location, travel & adventure play the biggest part when considering locum work. Locum work allows you to work your way around Australia at your own pace, explore new destinations and revisit your favourite landscapes. There are not too many professions that afford you so much control and freedom over where and when you work.

Rates will always play a significant factor when it comes to deciding whether to locum or not. It's interesting to note that high paying locum opportunities didn't rank in the top three factors, although rates at the market standard or above were important and the second most popular factor.

The scope of work, the chance to gain experience in different work environments and having the support to further and focus on clinical sub-specialties, whether that be Sexual or Indigenous Health, Skin or procedural interests also influence what locum roles doctors choose from. Because we specialise in General Practice and own 70+ Clinics we can offer opportunities across all GP specialisms.

Additional factors that influence doctors to take on locum jobs include:

  • Longer term contracts;
  • Timing to fit in with permanent schedules;
  • Scope to bring families or partners;
  • Giving back to small communities;
  • Safe, clean and private accommodation;
  • Pet-friendly accommodation;
  • Team structure | RMO & register support;
  • Recommendations from colleagues.

As the above graphic shows, the decision to go back to the same practice is more about working conditions as opposed to geographical location. Facility staff (nursing support, administration, Allied Health services and peers), workload and hours (how many patients am I expected to see in a day and am I comfortable with this, on-call rosters when working as a VMO, is there room for flexibility of hours) plus how well the practice is equipped and managed, all play a role in doctors securing repeat locums.

Ochre Health Medical Centres supports independent doctors who share a clear purpose and take a proactive approach in creating healthier communities. We can support you in the delivery of excellent healthcare, by providing you with the freedom to independently practice and the ability to take advantage of the Ochre network of infrastructure, operational support, tools and facilities. With flexible working options, you choose how and where you work to fit your lifestyle and to stay happy and healthy. 

Locum v Permanent Employment?

It comes as no surprise that doctors ranked flexibility, rates of pay and travel as the biggest benefits of working as a locum doctor compared to working in a permanent position.

When asked the reverse, so what they see as the top 2 disadvantages of working as a locum compared to a permanent position, the overwhelming majority cited the inability of being able to provide continuity of care to patients, job uncertainty and downtime due to traveling, particularly when working in rural and remote locations.

At Ochre we work hard to eliminate the concerns that doctors see as disadvantageous to taking on locum work. We do this by:

  1. Working with practice owners/managers and doctors on workforce models that suit both parties, an approach that prioritises long-term ongoing locum work (it could be at one facility or across multiple locations) where doctors do engage in repeat locums meaning a higher level of continuity of care, less paperwork, re-learning new practice systems is not needed and permanent practice staff and locum doctors benefit from ongoing and richer working relationships.

  2. Understanding our doctor's availability and being able to guarantee blocks of work over an extended period reducing work uncertainty.

  3. Providing the best transportation options and calling on Angel Flight to assist with direct private flights to help you get to where you need to more efficiently.  

Thank you to all our wonderful doctors who took the time to provide feedback and participate in our Locum Doctor Survey. Your insights are invaluable. Based on the responses collected, we'd like to leave you with a few locum work tips:

  • Talk through and consider all requirements and aspects of locum opportunities with your recruitment consultant. Ask your consultant for information about the facility, staff, support, scope of work, expectations, travel time, and rates of pay.
  • If you've had a rewarding experience at a particular practice, give them a reason to want you back... become their first locum doctor of choice by being flexible, accommodating, supportive, tidy, punctual and a great communicator.

Search some of our locum jobs here. If you don't find what you're looking for, contact our team on +61 2 9357 2448 or [email protected] and tell us where you want to go and we'll take you there.

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