Many doctors decide to become a locum at some stage in their career, whether they are a junior doctor looking to gain further training before deciding which pathway to pursue, or a more seasoned doctor wishing to take control of their career. For many the experience is rewarding, with the chance to work with the latest technology and the opportunity to enhance their career development, working in a variety of environments.
Here’s Dr Abdullah’s story…
A father of two young children, Dr Shorsh Abdullah values the flexibility of his current life as a locum doctor – and is convinced it makes good career sense too. Originally from Kurdistan, and trained in Iraq, Dr Adbullah, a Senior House Officer (SHO) in paediatric care, moved to the UK in 2006. While relocating, he admitted:
I was very scared at first. I had a regular job before, and financially, I wasn’t sure how it would work out. But actually, it’s worked out better financially, and I really value the flexibility too.
Now based in Nottingham, he is happy to work in hospitals within an hour and a half’s drive from home, which gives him tremendous geographical scope – with both the East and West Midlands and parts of Yorkshire, well within travelling distance. Occasionally he will work further afield if it’s a job he likes – for example, he spent three months this summer working at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the North East. He believes that employers value good quality, well-trained locums who can adapt quickly to local circumstances and hit the ground running.
It’s important to be adaptable. For example, I have experience working in accident and emergency and with neonates, as well as in the children’s ward. It means that – within reason – hospitals can use me where I’m most needed.
During his time as a locum with HCL Doctors, Dr Abdullah has enjoyed working in a variety of settings and believes this has also broadened his experience, both in practical terms. An example of this would be how he is now accustomed to different techniques and processes, depending on which setting he is working in – and in case mix.
Although hospitals have different electronic systems, he says:
Yes, it can be a challenge at first getting to know the system and to get passwords and so on, but it means that I have experience of lots of different systems.
In terms of patient care, he also points out that in neonatology, incubators for pre-term babies are used in different ways depending on the hospital. He believes:
It’s very important to keep updating yourself – I’m updating my knowledge all the time.
and working as a locum enables him to have that experience and knowledge.
His exposure to different diseases is also a huge advantage in terms of his development as a doctor. Rather than working in one general or tertiary centre, he sees a variety of conditions, broadening his experience.
Dr Abdullah values the relative freedom that comes from being a freelance doctor and believes this also allows him to spend more time with his children. Alongside, the opportunity to go back to the Middle East, when required, with the flexibility to travel and no holiday restrictions. He also believes that locum work is good for doctors at different stages of their career, for example, when they want time off to study for exams, or to do research. It can be particularly valuable for doctors who have finished their training, and who are preparing for their first consultant post. In the future, he now hopes to find the time to progress with his training and to work towards his ambition of becoming a consultant paediatrician.