Your Roadmap To Becoming A Locum Doctor

By , Melinda McCarthy published on 25/10/2023 locum, locum doctor, Ochre Recruitment,

The demand for locum doctors in the medical field has been increasing rapidly during the past few years. Physician shortages, population growth, and the need for flexible and sustainable medical staffing options, particularly in rural and remote regions are helping to drive this trend.

Becoming a locum doctor could be an excellent option if you want to explore new opportunities and practice medicine more flexibly.

Understanding the Locum Mindset

Locum work requires a mindset that is adaptable, flexible, and independent. As a locum doctor, you'll work in various healthcare settings, from hospitals to aged care facilities, health hubs, private practices, and correctional centres. You must adapt to each new environment and the specific needs of each facility, its patients and the wider community. An embracement of change and diversity are key attributes in a successful locum tenens career.

Working autonomously, making independent decisions, and often leading a team is required. Continuous learning is essential in staying up-to-date with medical advances and the varying cases encountered. As a locum physician, you will have opportunities to work in different specialties, exposing you to varied cases to continue your ongoing education.

Preparation for the Locum Journey

Becoming a locum requires proper preparation in terms of credentialing and registration. You need to ensure that all of your certifications and licenses are up-to-date and that you have obtained any additional licenses for specific states before accepting a new locum job. A locum agency like Ochre can assist with these tasks. Regarding financial planning, you must understand the payment structure and how your income will be affected by periods without assignments or days without work.

A well-planned budget will ensure you can survive these periods without stress or searching for new employment. Another preparation area is finding a reliable accommodation option for assignments, as you may have to relocate for just a few days or months. A reputable locum agency will usually be able to provide you with accommodation, however, if you have specific needs which fall outside the gambit of what the client can offer,  you may need to do some homework yourself.

Building a Support Network

Like any other field, networking and building a support network are crucial in the locum tenens field. You can connect with other locum doctors online or join relevant associations and regional groups. Being part of a community of locum healthcare professionals, you are better positioned to receive recommendations on contracts and new job opportunities.

They can also offer their experiences in certain states or facilities and advise about the banking and housing options around new assignments. So, if you are starting or thinking of starting a locum tenens career, build a strong network and community.

Challenges Faced by Locum Doctors

One of the biggest challenges for locum doctors is the need to relocate frequently. This means adjusting to new cities, hospitals, and teams. Relocating can be a stressful experience, but it also provides growth opportunities. By embracing change and being open to new experiences, relocating can help you become a more adaptable and resilient doctor.

As a locum doctor, you will work in different hospitals and teams. This means adapting to various work cultures and protocols. Understanding and adapting to different work cultures is crucial to a successful locum doctor. By being flexible, patient, and approachable, you can build better relationships with your team and provide the best care for your patients.

Being a locum doctor also means preparing for periods without assignments. This can be financially challenging, and you need to be prepared for these gaps in employment. Consider having a financial plan and being proactive in seeking new assignments.

Overcoming Challenges: Tips for Success

Effective Communication

Effective communication is key to being a successful locum doctor. Building rapport with new teams and understanding patient needs is crucial to quality care. Take the time to listen to your patients and colleagues and ask questions to gain a better understanding.

Continuous Professional Development

As a locum doctor, staying up to date with the latest medical advancements and techniques is essential. Attend workshops and online courses to enhance your knowledge and skills. This benefits your career and improves the quality of care you provide to your patients.


Building relationships with medical staffing agencies and other locum doctors can be beneficial in finding job referrals. Attend conferences and events, join professional organisations, and connect with other doctors on social media. Building a strong network can provide opportunities and support throughout your career.

Benefits of Being a Locum Doctor

One of the most significant advantages of being a locum doctor is the flexibility it offers. You have the ability to choose when and where to work. This gives you more control over your schedule and balances your work and personal life.

Working in different hospitals and healthcare systems provides diverse experiences. This exposure to new cases and patient demographics can improve your medical expertise and broaden your perspective. You will also have the opportunity to work with various medical professionals, which can enhance your professional network.

Being a locum doctor may also provide financial benefits such as higher pay rates and the ability to negotiate terms. However, it's important to remember that financial rewards should not be the only factor in your decision to become a locum doctor.


Becoming a locum doctor offers you an unparalleled opportunity to diversify your practice of medicine and broaden your skills and knowledge. If you’re prepared to embrace change and are adaptable, flexible, and independent, this could be your right career path.

Ochre Recruitment is here to support you in finding the right locum role. Contact our experienced recruitment team today, and let’s discuss how we can help you find your next role.

+61 2 93572448

[email protected]

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