Why doctors choose to Locum?

By Melinda McCarthy published on 07/10/2021 locum, Locum work, Ochre Recruitment, General Practice, Rural Generalism /

Most GPs will locum at least once in their career and many choose to become ‘career locums’. Currently, the demand for locum GPs has never been higher. The pandemic, subsequent border restrictions and need for increased primary care services is putting more pressure on an already stretched system. With Spring and Summer holidays around the corner, many permanent GPs will take leave with locums being called upon by practices for support.

If you’re contemplating locum work for the first time, chances are you’re either looking to travel, maximise your earning potential or gain experience in different work environments all within a paradigm that offers you flexibility and freedom.

But there are other less obvious reasons why so many doctors choose to locum.

Upskilling > Locum doctors regularly face new challenges in diagnoses and treatments, and as such are continually increasing their knowledge and skills.

Experience different practice methods and work settings > Of course, exploring the landscape is a big drawcard, but important exploration occurs on the job as well. If you are not yet sure which practice you want to settle down in, you can work your way around a variety of locations and you’ll discover which ones you could call your ‘home’.

Boost your network > If you’ve moved to a new area, you'll meet local medical staff while working at various locations. You’ll find network opportunities as you work through smaller practices, larger medical centres and hospitals, which can lead to full-time employment.

Try before you buy > Working at different sites allows you to identify the ones you like, and enables you to see first-hand which places exhibit an inclusive and positive work culture. You don’t get a chance to see this when applying online or even during job interviews.

Help a community in need > When a hospital or medical practice needs a locum GP, it's because they're short-staffed. In some rural areas, your expertise can mean the difference between a practice staying open or closing—your contribution will always be valued.

Whether you’re a GP Registrar, new Fellow, a Practitioner at the height of your career or you’re beginning to wind down the number of clinical hours each week, you can locum.  In fact, locum GPs play a vital role in supporting the permanent workforce ensuring that quality primary care is accessible and available to all Australians.

Here are our 5 top tips for GPs contemplating locum work

1. Be ready for any situation

You’re the type of person that thrives on instinct and thinking on your feet. Remember, anything that can happen usually does.

2. Be flexible

List a number of locations you’d like to work in. Don’t limit yourself to one state or region, otherwise you’ll not get to experience the full gamut of destinations and experiences.

3. Be organised

Plan ahead. We suggest you look a month or two ahead so you do get your first preference in your desired location.

4. Use a single agency

Choose an agency that specialises in General Practice. A GP-centric recruitment agency, like Ochre, will offer you work in your sub-specialty areas, including GP ED, GP obstetrics, GP anaesthesia, procedural work, skin, sexual health, Indigenous health, family medicine, and of course the rapidly growing rural generalist specialism.

And when you find a consultant that understands your locum goals, working exclusively will guarantee you get a premium service, every day.

5. Go Rural

Feedback from our GPs is that working in rural and remote regions is rewarding on both a professional and personal level. Not only that Rural Generalists command higher locum rates compared to GPs in metropolitan areas. 

Dr John Hall, GP Obstetrician believes there’s a certain mindset that comes with being a Rural GP “If you're going around the hospital doing different terms like obstetrics, emergency, anaesthetics, surgery, internal medicine, any of the sub specialties, and you keep saying to yourself, "I love everything about medicine. I like all the different disciplines"... It means that you've got a generalist mindset. My first foray into proper rural medicine did not disappoint. I had a busy job working as a hospital doctor in a medium-size rural hospital. Working across the gamut of emergency care, surgery, internal medicine, outpatient work—one of the most rewarding workplaces and jobs that I've ever done.”

Dr John Hall, President of RDAA & Ochre Health DMS


Ochre Recruitment has a proud history of providing key rural locum employment opportunities for GPs, and offers a comprehensive range of rural GP jobs across Australia. Founded by Dr Hamish Meldrum and Dr Ross Lamplugh in 2002, Ochre has the expertise and experience to take GP locums from an outback Indigenous community in the Northern Territory, to the tropics of Queensland, to a quintessential Australian country town, through to magical Flinders and King Islands in Tasmania.

Ochre operate over 50 Ochre Health centres, manage the VMO contracts for 15 hospitals, enjoy partnerships with state health boards and work with small family-owned practices, larger corporate centres, AMS, Corrections and Government (defence force): all relying on locum doctors to support their workforce of permanent doctors.

GP VMO’s contact our Rural Generalist Team today for the inside scoop on what’s coming up in rural and remote regions across Australia.

For GP Clinic locums, get in touch with Georgia or Steph from our GP Team.

If you are based in New Zealand and are looking for the perfect Summer Locum, email Angelique.

If you're not already part of our growing network of doctors, join by registering here.

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