Have you ever thought about living in different places for a little a bit at a time? Maybe you have always wanted to do some traveling before starting to work? Of course, it sounds exciting to go from Honolulu for six months and then onto Dayton for the next six. Indeed, I thought about the locum lifestyle when I first started.
But, are you missing out on by taking this route instead of the established full-time job career path? Potentially. As much as the ability to travel for your job may entice you, think twice before embarking down this infrequently traveled road as a new radiologist. Let me give you some good reasons for turning this opportunity down.
Pigeon Holed/Loss of Skills
Do you want your new practice to call you that temporary plain film reader gal? Unfortunately, this sort of attitude prevails among many groups. And, imaging groups tend to place you in a particular role based on the desperate needs of the practice. So, if you sign up for XYZ, the group may utilize you in Y capacity. Over the years, this is a surefire way to lose your skills in other areas that you trained for in residency.
Will The Good Times Last?
What do you think happens when the bottom drops out of the radiology job market? Perhaps, imaging reimbursements drop precipitously. Or, suddenly, the stock market crashes and older radiologists stay in the field. And, yes, unfavorable radiology job markets like this have happened in two separate cycles since I started medical school.
In these situations, what happens first? Well, the excess fat gets cut. And, what exactly is the excess fat? It tends to be the locums’ jobs! When you start, you certainly don’t want to be in that first wave of job cuts. It becomes challenging to recover.
Locums Looked Upon Unfavorably
At many practices, the question that arises when they consider a new locum radiologist is: WHY ARE YOU A LOCUM RADIOLOGIST? From my experience, many radiologists believe (rightfully or wrongfully so) that locums radiologists have a defect. Perhaps, they read to slow and cannot hold a job. Or, maybe, the individual cannot get along with others and drifts from job to job. So, if you have a track record of only holding locum work, you have painted a particular picture of yourself that may not be attractive if you ever want to find a longer-term career!
Never Quite Maximize Efficiency
When you drift from place to place, you never get to learn all the systems in place to maximize your output. PACs machines, paperwork, clinician demands, and technology continually change. And, they differ from one practice to another. By definition, you remain less efficient and slower just because you do not have the long-term knowledge you need to keep up with your colleagues at a job using the same technology for the past ten odd years!
Difficult To Establish Long Term Relationships
What do I value most from my current job? I treasure the relationships that I have made with my colleagues, residents, and fellow clinicians. How do you create and maintain these relationships as a locum? Well, it can become very challenging at the very least. You are new the kid on the block and will remain that way until your short term tenure as a locum radiologist ends.
Locum Work: A Dangerous Road To Travel
Now, locums can be an excellent opportunity for specific individuals. If you have a family and want to fill in some time with some extra hours, it can make some sense. Or, maybe you want to retire soon and desire some additional inconsistent or occasional work. Finally, perhaps, you are independently wealthy, and a full-time career does not matter for you. But, for the typical fresh graduate with a lot of debt and wanting to begin a new locum path, you will encounter many obstacles that can affect your future career and growth. So, think twice if you choose to become a locum radiologist when you start. It may become one of your biggest regrets!