The what, why and how to locum…

What is a locum?

Locums are fixed term contracts that often come around due to normal movements in the workforce. They fall outside of full time and part time contracts and have additional benefits because of this including above award pay rates and flexible / fixed term contracts. Locums are usually anywhere from 1 to 6 months in length.

Why Locum?

There are many reasons as to why you would take a locum job.You could be a new graduate or a few years out and looking for a bit of adventure… after comparing notes with other locumers and I have found that;

  • Locums are a fantastic opportunity to “try before you buy” in a clinical area.
  • They say that “change is as good as a holiday” and if you are feeling a bit burnt out and need to refresh then locums provide a new challenge in a different clinical area.
  • A common misconception about locums is that they are “dead-end jobs” – but more often than not they lead to more opportunities…and are CV building.
  • Locums demonstrate resilience, flexibility and the ability to work as part of a team – which are highly sought-after personal attributes in any workplace.
  • Locums can help fill a service demand in a community that really needs you, perhaps in a regional or remote area…

There are some opinions of locums as being mostly in the job because of the higher award rate. And because they are at the job for a shorter period of time, they are less likely to engage in the task at hand. I have found that the opposite is true. People are mostly attracted to locums as a means of adventure and to get new insights from different people.

Many new graduates are hesitant to take a locum when leaving university as they think a lack of experience will be a barrier to getting a job… however

If you are a new graduate and have AHPRA registration, you are suited to locum roles that will let you travel and build your experience at the same time…

Although the old adage of ‘experience required’ is part of almost every job advertisement now, my impression from talking many hospitals, community centres, aged care facilities and private practice managers is that new graduates are more than welcome for most of the advertised roles. It is well known in the industry that new grads are able to quickly learn on the job with supportive supervision.

Locums are a great way to demonstrate resilience and flexibility which are very desirable personal attributes and key selection criteria for a lot of hospital and community jobs. It has been my experience that locums are CV building, particularly for graduates looking to transition from aged care to hospital and community roles – where you often work with complex and elderly patients.

Many people who have finished studying also have a significant “travel itch” and taking a locum can alleviate this. I know that private practice owners really value addressing a travel itch before committing to a private practice, and some have suggested that offering locums could be a good strategy to add enthusiastic, experienced and well-travelled people to their team long term…

How do I locum?

We are all familiar with the arduous job interview process and often a waiting period before you can begin full or part time work…

Locums are not like this.

They can be organised quickly; they are flexible and they can be as short or long term as you like. They are also a great way to travel nationally as you can often get subsidised or free accommodation and travel … as well as other benefits.

To begin a locum what you need is;

  • Current AHPRA registration or equivalent registration for your discipline (Nursing, OT, SP or Physio)
  • A firm start date (and a finish date if you have a set one – but this is optional) and
  • An idea about what kind of area you are interested in and where you want to go!
  • A willingness to learn and be flexible…

In my experience planning for a locum length of 2-3 months is ideal as you can settle in and really find your rhythm and adventure around. It’s also beneficial for the employer as they get more sufficient service coverage and flexibility with their rostering and that is win-win for everyone involved.

I personally have locumed with ACM healthcare – our podcast sponsor and if you are still reading and considering a locum – I recommend getting in contact with ACM for a discussion about what is available currently…

And remember…

Big things have small beginnings…