We speak with Dr Chithera Arumugananthan and ask her how it has been to work locum with Medic Oncall.
Reading time: 5 minutes
Why did you decide to become a locum doctor?
I divide my time up between a public hospital appointed physician and as a locum physician. Being a locum offers tremendous benefits that a fixed part time or permanent position don’t offer. For example:
1. Flexible hours. You have full control over the days & hours you work.
2. Financial stability. As a locum you are paid your worth in the skills that you offer.
3. No unpaid overtime. As doctors we accept that unpaid overtime is a necessary requirement of being in training. This never happens when you are a locum. You are paid for the time that you provide to a health network. Thus you never leave a shift feeling exploited.
4. Tailored, varied experience. You can work anywhere in Australia and New Zealand, which allows you to build up your skill set by trying new things. There is an abundance of locum work, & you can really push yourself by travelling to places you normally wouldn’t, & performing roles that normally wouldn’t be offered in a standard hospital setting.
What is it that attracted you to locum work with Medic Oncall?
It’s a very sleek service, from the moment you register, to picking up and completing shifts. They have an app that allows you to see all the shifts that are tailored to your skill set, and jobs are released weeks in advance, allowing you to plan for the future. The app gives you details about the job assignment (location, hourly rate, responsibilities), and you submit your time sheets through there. The staff also respond to queries incredibly quickly. They learn what jobs work well for you, and inform you of job opportunities early. It’s by far, the best locum agency I have worked with, and the majority of my work is through Medic Oncall.
What do you think makes a great locum doctor?
1. Having a positive attitude on your shifts. Given you now control the shifts you do & the hours you work, so you feel better about each job assignment.
2. Someone who work hard. Hospitals, patients, colleagues all appreciate a hard working competent clinician. Not to mention, it then brings in more work because they want you back.
3. Having fun, being adventurous & taking a variety of work to keep the job interesting.
What have you learned about yourself through the locum work that you do?
For a long time I thought I wasn’t enjoying medicine anymore. I had invested so much time & effort into becoming a specialist, and at the end, I felt as though this wasn’t right for me. Once I took time away and became a locum, I realised it had nothing to do with not enjoying my work. I was just burnt out, exhausted from working in a public hospital where you are under valued & over worked. Once, I started locuming after a period off, I started to find my love for medicine again.
What are the three main benefits of working as a locum?
1. Have work-life balance. This means being conscious of the hours you work, and making sure you are giving yourself down time to recharge. You can’t care for other people, if you are burning the candle at both ends!
2. Be mindful of the signs and symptoms of burn out. Take time away from a full time job if you are getting burnt out. This is one of the privileges of being a locum doctor, you can afford to take time away, be paid well, so you can focus on your own personal life.
3. Have fun & challenge yourself. Pick up locum jobs that also put you out of your comfort zone. You want to keep improving & building up your skill set.
How has locum work affected your personal life and work-life balance?
Prior to being a locum, I had no work-life balance. I was underpaid, burnt out, working horrendously long hours, exhausted all the time, to the point that my hourly rate was lower than a teenager working in a fast food chain. Once I finished my training, I knew that one way to protect my work-life balance was to spend part of my time as a locum. As a locum, I have never worked hours that I wasn’t then reimbursed for, and I have full control over the hours/days that I work.
What should doctors be looking out for when searching for a locum work provider?
You want to find a locum agency that offers a variety of jobs, tailors the experience to you, are reliable, make selecting & finishing jobs an effortless process.
Can you tell us about your most memorable location you have worked at as a locum? Why was it so memorable?
I don’t have any one specific favourite place that I locumed. But 5 years ago, as a locum for a year, I did move around a lot, and it was the most amount of travel through Australia that I did. I went to nearly every single state in Australia to work, and while I was there, I took a few days off to sight see!
What advice do you have for new doctors?
1. Take your time in working out what you want to do forever. Remember, you have to be able to do this job until you retire, so taking some time off to figure it out doesn’t cost you anything in the long term.
2. It’s ok to be a career locum. Just do what feels right for you, makes you happy, allows you to have passion for your job. There are so many opportunities in medicine!
3. Always always be mindful of your mental health. Never work until exhaustion. There will always be jobs available in medicine. If you need time off, trust your body to give it rest.
At Medic Oncall, we specialise in clinical and non-clinical solutions for healthcare providers, government, corporate and event organisations.
As a leading provider of healthcare services, locum doctor staffing, and medical workforce management, we are committed to finding solutions that work for our doctors and our clients.
To join Dr Chithera Arumugananthan and the many doctors working locum around Australia, register with us today!