How Locum Tenens Saved My Career
Editor's Note: Dr. Fred Moss, a locum tenens psychiatrist, shares with us why he chose to move from private practice to exclusively serving patients through locums assignments.
by Dr. Fred Moss
About five years ago, I was assigned to work a locum tenens psychiatry position at an inpatient geriatric unit outside of Cleveland. I was disheartened by what I saw when I arrived; patients were heavily medicated and lethargic. I knew as a temporary physician walking into a new practice, this was my chance to help this community.
During my tenure there, I was able to be part of shifting the unit’s entire culture to benefit both the patients and the providers. By the tail end of my one year commitment, it seemed everyone had done a 180-degree turn. Patients were conversing, exercising and challenging each other to Trivial Pursuit matches.
That's what I love about working locum tenens. I have the ability to make a difference all over the country like I did for those patients in Cleveland.
What’s shocking to me now though, is that as of 2008, a career in locum tenens was not even on my radar. I had my own practice, but I was ready for a change and was even considering moving out of the country.
Even as a kid I felt I had a gift for listening to people, for making them feel their problems were heard. I knew from the start of medical school that I wanted to be a psychiatrist. But with the high overhead, funds tied up in collections, and day-to-day stresses of managing a business, it didn’t feel like what I’d signed up for when I first had the dream of becoming a doctor.
That's when I got a call from a recruiter at Jackson & Coker. What he was offering me sounded nearly perfect: the chance to keep practicing medicine - to help people - while eliminating the strains of owning my own practice. Within weeks, I found myself packing my bags for my first locum tenens position in Indiana.
After that first job, my schedule quickly filled up, and I started taking positions in various states. I continued to have unique, productive experiences with each new job I took, and I felt a sense of relief from leaving private practice behind.
Most recently I have been able to serve a prison population - members of society who desperately need mental health resources - while also meeting with patients across the country through telemedicine positions. So many people in the U.S. live in areas that lack mental health providers, and I'm able to reach much more of them and provide even higher quality care than when I was confined to a physical location.
Without the administrative duties associated with my own practice, I have more time to expand my knowledge, including conducting research and publishing articles in medical journals.
I got into medicine to help as many people as possible, and through locums I'm able to do just that. I can reach people where they are - whether in a prison, in the middle of a natural disaster or in their own homes. This career path has been the change I needed to keep working as a physician, practicing medicine in the way that I feel is best for patients, communities and myself, and doing so with the greatest degree of satisfaction while upholding my personal integrity.