Become a locums doctor and think like a professional athlete

by 911Doc, MD

When our colleagues want to criticize our approach to medicine in the wild, wild west, they call us “cowboys.”

So be it. And guess what? You too can take to the road with your skills and wits only and be paid what you are worth.

Locums companies are now offering me almost twice what I make working for my group to travel, be put up in a nice hotel, and cover the uncovered military ER or the VA “ER.”  Seems to me that rather than go through a locums company that I can just put send out a few letters, offer my services as a hired gun, and cut out the locums company making $50 an hour off my back.

Then again, I am burnt out and leaving and wouldn’t do it for the money, but you guys, especially you medical students and residents, should think seriously about this.

You may have to work out in a group for a couple of years, but after that, after you get your sea legs, why send thousands a dollars a month to your group director or your hospital? Become a traveler, an itinerant doc, a gunslinger. Go stay at the beach on someone else’s dime or go to the mountains the same way. Go make twice as much and when you find an undesirable hospital, walk away and go to the next one.

You may just keep your sanity and be able to retire a lot sooner. Everyone else sees you as a commodity, why not behave accordingly?

Use the logic of the professional athlete. You have an increasingly unique and valuable skill … make your best deal. You only have a few years at it — ten on average (per our own college’s statistics) — so why not protect yourself?

911Doc is an emergency physician who blogs at M.D.O.D.

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