Patient is meeting a doctor

If you’re a doctor or veterinarian, you may have considered going locum. While it may not be the right choice for everyone, there’s no denying the benefits you can get when you change careers, such as the possibility for higher wages and more control over your schedule.

So, in this article, we’re taking a look at the reasons why you should become a locum – as accountants for locum doctors and vet accountants, we have many years of experience working with locums, meaning we can help you every step of the way.

What Type of Work Can You Get as a Locum?

The first thing you may want to know is where you can get work – and which type of work UK locum doctors and veterinarians can do. As a locum, you have the flexibility to work anywhere, from hospitals and private practices to universities and GP surgeries, so it’s up to you and what you’re passionate about.

Locums tend to be needed for a few weeks or months, but this will depend on the work you do and where you’re placed. Also, as a locum, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to fill a position that’s temporarily vacant, such as maternity cover or a sabbatical. You may also help an understaffed clinic or be called in to train graduates.

Locums are also needed if there’s a high number of patients to treat – for example, there might be more patients in colder months because of issues like the flu or accidents caused by icy roads, so hospitals and clinics tend to hire locums to help out during these times.

Benefits of Being a Locum

More Control

As a locum, you’re responsible for every aspect of your career, meaning you can do everything your way. You can choose which jobs to take on and how many hours to work, as well as the type of work you want to do. And, if you’re not sure what you’d like to do next, you can explore different options until you settle into one.

You’ll be gaining experience during that time too, so your skills will become even more in-demand. And, because you can choose to work fewer hours, you have more time for yourself and your loved ones. Being a locum, then, will help you create a better work-life balance.

More Flexibility

As mentioned, you also get a lot of flexibility when you become a locum. In fact, this is one of the most attractive points for anyone on the fence, since you have the opportunity to choose the contracts you truly want to take on, the duration of your contract, the location you’re going to be working in, etc.

This means you can choose the jobs that are closer to home or that challenge you the most, depending on what you’re looking for. It also means that you could choose short-term roles so you can develop your skills, or you can pick a permanent contract if you like the security it brings – it’s all in your hands.

Increased Job Satisfaction

This leads to a higher level of job satisfaction. If you can do things your way and do the work you love, you’ll be happier in your professional life – since we spend so many hours working, it’s important that you enjoy what you do, which will help you to stay motivated as well.

Keep Things Interesting

Locuming will also ensure you never get bored. Because this type of work can be versatile. You can be doing different things every day and, if you’re someone who thrives on challenges and on doing new things, this might be the right option for you.

Locums can also work with a range of people and cultures, which helps them to develop their interpersonal skills as well – and to learn new things.

Of course, if you prefer to do the same work day in and out, you still have that option, since you can choose where you work, who you work with and what you do.

Male Veterinarian Examining Dog at Vet Clinic

Plenty of Choices

Medicine is one of those areas where there’s always a shortage of staff, which means it’s unlikely you’ll have trouble finding work. This can help put your mind at ease if you’ve still not decided if locuming is for you, as demand for doctors and veterinarians is always there. You’ll have many opportunities, from the NHS to private care and more, so consider taking the leap today.

Better Wages

Another big reason to become a locum is that pay is usually better. You get to set your own rates so, based on your experience and skillset, as well as industry demand, you can easily get higher pay.

When you’re in full-time employment, you’re more likely to earn less. However, it’s also important to consider that locums don’t have the benefits that employees have, such as maternity leave, sick pay or holiday pay, so wages should make up for that.

You can opt to work short-term contracts with high pay, for instance, which means you’ll be working fewer hours but getting a good wage. Make sure to brush up on your negotiating skills so you can ask for a higher amount when you sign a new contract.

Lower Stress Levels

Because being a locum doctor or veterinarian is all about having ultimate control and flexibility when it comes to your career – as well as higher job satisfaction – it’s only natural that you’ll feel less stressed too. After all, you’re doing things your way!

In addition, you also don’t have to worry about office politics if it’s something you don’t appreciate. For many people, the ability to go in, do the job and then come home with no strings attached is a big plus.

Gain a Lot of Experience

We’ve touched on this above – being a locum means working in different environments and facing different situations, especially if you choose to hop around several placements until you find a permanent position. This will give you tonnes of experience you can take with you somewhere else – and it also helps you to get better wages.

So, choosing to locum for a few years has a lot of career advantages, which means you should give this type of work some thought instead of settling down immediately.

Get Stability

It might seem counter-intuitive but being a locum can actually give you a lot of stability and job security, especially because there are always vacancies for doctors, surgeons, veterinarians, pharmacists, and so on. If you’re concerned about becoming self-employed because you’ll have to go out and find jobs, then you can be more confident knowing there’s a high demand for your services.

Enjoy Time to Train

As a doctor, surgeon, pharmacist or veterinarian, it’s important that you keep learning new skills and develop your existing ones and being a locum can give you more time for training. Whether you want to attend conferences or a specific course, you can work fewer hours and use the rest of your time to work on your professional development, which may be more difficult to do when you’re in full-time employment.

Shot of a doctor showing a patient some information on a digital tablet

Have Work Freedom

Locum veterinarians and doctors can also work on a part-time basis if they prefer. If you’re nearing your retirement age or simply don’t want to work as many hours, locuming is for you.

On the other hand, you also have the option to keep working even if you’ve just retired – people go into medicine because they want to help others, so it’s only natural you’d want to keep going. Being a locum allows you to do this without having to work long hours or sacrifice family time.

Work in Other Countries

Locums also get the opportunity to go to other countries where doctors, surgeons or veterinarians are in high demand, which can greatly help your career. Something like this will also help you develop your skills, as you’re working in a completely new environment and dealing with different cultures.

Get a Boost of Confidence

When you work as a locum, whether at a hospital, a pharmacy or a vet clinic, you gain more confidence as you gain experience. You’re faced with a variety of situations in unfamiliar settings, so each time you complete a job, you become more self-confident in your own abilities.

This will serve you well in your career, whether it’s when you’re negotiating higher rates with a client, when you’re performing surgery, or looking for a new job, for example.

Forge New Relationships

Locum work allows you to meet many people, which will help you expand your network. This is useful for when you’re looking to switch jobs, but it’s also a good way to make friends and to learn new things (such as treatments or the latest news in technology) from peers.

Work with Different Equipment

As a doctor or veterinarian, it’s important you’re always on top of the latest technological developments, as well as the latest in medical procedures. Locuming lets you get a taste of new and different machines and equipment, so you’re gaining more experience than if you stayed in the same place.

Regain Your Enthusiasm

If you find that you’re getting stagnant – or, at least, if you feel like that – changing to locum work can be exactly what you need. Having such a varied workplace can help you get your enthusiasm for the job back, especially because you’re meeting different people and being faced with different situations.

Sole Trading or Limited Company

If you’re only starting out as a locum, you may want to consider becoming a sole trader first in order to test the waters. This is also useful if you’re not entirely sure locuming is for you or if you want to do it for a long time. Sole traders don’t have the same responsibilities and obligations that limited company owners do, so you can quickly set up or cease your business if you so choose.

However, you don’t have limited liability because you’re not a separate legal entity from your business, which means you’re personally responsible for any debts the business has incurred. But we can sort all that out for you as sole trader accountants – simply speak to us if you have any questions and we’ll be on hand to help.

For many locum doctors and veterinarians, incorporating is the right option. You’ll have more obligations and admin to handle, but this is also a more tax-efficient structure after you start earning a certain amount.

There are pros and cons to both operating structures, but, as limited company accountants, we can support you as you grow your business. From helping with corporation tax to taking care of VAT, we’ve got it covered. You don’t have to spend time trying to learn the ins and outs of UK tax law, so use that time instead to focus on the business or on your family and friends.

doctor using stethoscope on a puppy

We’re contractor accountants specialising in accountancy for the self-employed, whether you’re a sole trader, a limited company director or a locum. We can easily provide you with the expert advice you need to manage your accounts successfully, as we’ll take care of everything while you focus on what you do best.

Speak to us for more information on how we can help and enjoy more free time to spend with your family, friends and hobbies.