By | October 10, 2017

If there’s one thing we can say about emergency medicine jobs it’s this: there’s no freedom to practice as you see fit. Whereas private practice owners are self-employed business owners who can run their businesses in whatever way they choose, ER doctors are hospital employees who must do their jobs within the confines of hospital policy.

Are you an ER doctor looking for a little freedom? If so, the solution you are looking for may be as simple as leaving formal employment and working as a locum doctor instead. A lot of ER doctors are doing just that, according to Vista Staffing. They should know. Vista specializes in providing locum tenens staffing for medical facilities.

Traditional Medicine Practiced Non-Traditionally

It can take a lot to convince an entrenched ER doctor that going locum can provide the freedom he or she is looking for. After all, emergency medicine jobs are well defined and structured to the point that it is difficult to understand how locums maintain their sanity. If you’ve never done locum work before, it is a foreign entity that can be difficult to grasp.

A good way to think of locum work is practicing traditional medicine in a nontraditional way. The actual work of examining patients, intubating people with breathing problems, setting broken bones, and stitching up wounds doesn’t change by leaving hospitalist work and becoming a locum. The physical aspects of emergency medicine remain the same. The difference comes into play administratively.

As an employed physician, the ER doctor is not free to set his or her own schedule. Management determines schedules whether doctors like them or not. Sometimes those schedules are not very conducive to enjoying outside hobbies, family time, volunteer opportunities, and such.

Locums can set their own schedules simply by being discriminating in the assignments they accept. With every new assignment comes the opportunity to negotiate a new contract that works in the doctor’s favor. If a doctor cannot work out an acceptable agreement with a given facility, he/she simply moves on to the next assignment.

Scheduling is just one example of the many differences between employment and locum work. A plethora of additional factors are in play, covering everything from office politics to bureaucratic facility policies. The locum stays above all these things because he or she is not employed by any single facility.

Just Ask an Experienced Locum

Any frustrated ER doctor who wants to know what locum work is really like need only ask someone with experience. An excellent piece written by The Hospitalist contributor Dr. Geeta Arora offers a fitting example of some of the stories doctors will hear if they just ask.

Dr. Arora wrote about how she quit medicine following residency because she didn’t want a rigid employer dictating her schedule. She went to work for the NGO sector only to realize that the bureaucratic red tape involved in this sort of employment was not for her. So she turned back to medicine, but this time as a locum.

Arora has been a locum for four years now. She writes that she has never looked back since first deciding to go the locum route because her career now affords her the freedom she always wanted. She controls her own schedule, so she has time to pursue passions like surfing and traveling. And because she is not employed by any particular facility, she avoids all the red tape, bureaucracy, and politics of hospital medicine.

Emergency medicine jobs do not have to be restricting. If you are an ER doctor looking for little freedom, you might consider going the locum route.