You don’t have to look hard to find work after completing your residency or fellowship. Demand for physicians and advanced practice providers is high across the board — from coast to coast, in urban and rural areas and every practice setting. But the first assignments you take on can help set the pace for your career. It’s important to take time to consider what you want, and prepare yourself to transition from residency to reality.
Even though you just graduated, you’re already off to a great start! You’re here, exploring what locum tenens could mean for your professional path. Now keep up the good work, and check out the following tips as you take on the world and begin your search for locum tenens work you’ll love.
1. Decide What's Important to You
The world is your oyster, and it’s up to you to narrow your parameters to find what you’re looking for. As we already mentioned, there are options everywhere, including in your own backyard. Maybe you want to stay close to home, family and friends. Perhaps there are climates you know you need to avoid because they don’t provide the recreational activities you’re passionate about. On the other hand, maybe it’s a personal growth goal of yours to spread your wings and travel.
As you start off on your post-residency journey, now is the perfect time to decide what work will mean to you. You can either set the tone, or settle for the first job that pays well and sounds like it’s in your comfort zone.
Make a list of what’s important to you, and keep it handy so you’re asking the right questions during your interviews. For instance, how are after-hours calls handled? Are there teaching opportunities? You can find more inspiration for questions to ask in a previous blog post.
2. Develop a System to Stay Organized
Locum tenens work offers flexibility and many other benefits, but it also requires discipline. While staying organized will get easier with each assignment, there are tasks you’ll want to stay on top of from the get-go:
- Maintain copies of your diploma(s), licensing exam scores, immunization records and other important documents.
- Obtain your first state license, and plan to keep all licenses active and all certifications current.
- Secure professional references and letters of recommendation, and plan to keep them current (within six months to a year).
- Build a thorough but concise and compact CV, and plan to keep it updated.
This list only scratches the surface on what you’ll need to secure and keep up-to-date. For an in-depth look, consult our comprehensive guide to career planning. You’ll also need to get in the habit of tracking expenses related to your locum tenens work — like those associated with travel, accommodations, licensing and board exam fees, to name a few — so you can keep more money in your pocket come tax time.
Getting in the habit now will mean it doesn’t feel like a big deal later on (kind of like flossing). When you’re organized, you’re ready to take that dream assignment when it comes along.
3. Get to Know a Recruiter
If finding the right facility and staying organized sounds overwhelming, a healthcare staffing agency can help. From screening worksites to match your skills and interests, to helping with licensure and credentialing, your recruiter should work with you every step of the way. Make sure you ask questions and listen for cues that let you know they’re a true partner that’s there to do more than find you a job.
At VISTA, it’s our job to take the guesswork out of the equation and add convenience and expertise. We’ll make sure you find assignments you enjoy, stick by your side through whatever you need and even “reverse market” you to facilities in the event that an opportunity doesn’t immediately come up. We can answer all of your questions, including those around licensing and credentialing and updates with the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.
4. Always Remember That You Have Options
Even though your first locum tenens assignments are important and can teach you a lot about yourself, they don’t dictate what happens next. (We all know how much things can change in just a few years!) Whether your first job sets the bar high or is more of a stepping stone, you are never stuck — and you never know where your path might lead you. Just take it from Dr. Hope Eliot, who shared how locum tenens changed everything for her later on in her career.
It’s an exciting time in your life — enjoy the moment, stay true to the voice inside your head and know you can turn to VISTA whenever you need us.