Travel goes hand-in-hand with being a locum tenens physician. Locums take multiple assignments per year, traveling between their locations and home as needed. If you are a doctor who would love to combine your work with a passion for travel, locum work may be right up your alley. However, you need to know how to travel well.
How well doctors travel can make or break their careers as locums. Below are some helpful tips to get you thinking in that direction – if you are considering locum work. It goes without saying that you should ask other locums for their advice as well.
The first and most important tip is to make sure you and your staffing agencies settle on who gets to pay for travel. While most agencies include paid travel as a recruiting incentive, there are no guarantees. Furthermore, some agencies will only offer a portion of paid travel while the doctor makes up the difference.
Make sure you understand how payments are made as well. If your agency pays, is it based on a per diem allowance? Do you pay up front and then apply for reimbursement? These sorts of things need to be settled before you start traveling.
If most of your travel will be done by driving, do not take to the road in a leased vehicle. Leases typically come with both mileage limits and stiff penalties for exceeding those limits. You are better off buying a car and just taking really good care of it. Look for something that is both comfortable and offers good fuel efficiency.
Whenever traveling to a new destination for the first time, do not leave your travel until the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going even if you should run into a few snags along the way. When traveling around a holiday, do a bit of research to find out the best time to go. The last thing you want is to find yourself stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-95 in South Carolina the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s a nightmare.
Frequent fliers can save themselves a lot of time at the airport by applying for advance TSA clearance. For a fixed annual fee, you can obtain advanced clearance by sending the TSA certain documentation that proves your identity and allows them to pre-screen for any potential problems. Once at the airport, you will breeze right through security.
If your smartphone doesn’t yet have a GPS app on it, get one. Then make sure you keep it updated. A lot of people with Android phones use the default Google Maps, but there are other options out there. One of the most downloaded for both Android and iPhone is an app called Waze.
Whether you travel by car, train, plane, or a combination of all three, the nighttime hours tend to be the easiest time to travel. There are fewer cars on the roads and fewer passengers vying for flights and train tickets. You might even save a little by taking the red-eye flight or train when you can.
Whatever you do as a locum, do your best to enjoy the travel. Locum physicians have a unique opportunity that only a few other professions enjoy, so don’t squander it. There are too many sights to see, too many people to meet, and too many exciting things to experience as you travel from one assignment to the next.