6 reasons why you should consider locum work as a retirement strategy
Temporarily covering for a doctor who is taking leave, or even helping to manage a large workload in a busy clinic or hospital ward, isn’t just about maintaining patient care. Locum work can be a useful retirement strategy, giving you the opportunity to maximise your retirement savings, create flexibility in your work schedule, and even travel.
We look at the advantages of locum work, and why it can be a truly rewarding experience for doctors looking to transition from full-time work and into retirement.
1. Locum as a semi-retirement strategy
The typical stereotype of a locum doctor is usually a young doctor, keen to travel and looking to gain a variety of experiences. But locum work also has a lot of attractive benefits to senior doctors who are looking towards retirement.
If you aren’t quite ready to give up full-time work but are starting to think about retirement, locum work gives you full control over your work schedule, while allowing you to care for your patients — without the administrative fuss and stress of being overworked.
Adopting a locum position also lets you create more work-life balance, where you get to enjoy leisure activities, travel, or even to spend more time with your family or grandchildren.
2. Maximise your retirement savings
Instead of dipping into your retirement funds, locum contracts let you supplement your income when it suits you.
Locum rates, generally, aren’t fixed and can vary greatly depending on your level of experience, grade, specialty, hospital location, length of contract and urgency of the start dates. Rural hospitals or GP clinics often have higher pay rates than metropolitan facilities, particularly if it’s a last-minute locum. Specialists often earn between $2,000-3,000 AUD per day, with a week’s work paying over $15,000.
With fantastic locum rates, choosing to work as a visiting specialist can help you achieve your retirement goals faster and be complimentary to retirement savings. And even if your retirement income is enough to keep you comfortable, picking up a locum shift here or there can help you pay for the extras, like regular travel.
3. Gain experience in different learning environments
Locum work can help keep your skills current and broaden your experience. Many doctors who adopt locum work report enjoying the feeling of keeping up with their medical skills. Another benefit is gaining experience from a range of teams and specialities that you may otherwise not get to enjoy once fully retired.
Locum jobs are also a rewarding experience for more senior doctors who get to help upskill rural and remote hospital doctors. You get to share experiences, provide leadership and invaluable mentorships.
Making a real difference to patient care while meeting skill shortages in some of our most vulnerable areas is also a driver for many semi-retired doctors who commit to locum work. General Practitioner, Dr Amin Sadruddin notes, “Outback work is the antithesis of medicine in cities. I go back to first principles and am often the difference between a medical service staying open or shutting down.”
4. Opportunity to explore Australia
Working as a locum doctor is the perfect way to get paid while exploring our beautiful country.
You get to choose your location, your hours and how long you stay. With placements available across all of Australia, in every state and territory, you can work in unique locations as well.
It can be easy to find locum opportunities. Connecting with an agency that specialises in medical recruitment, like Wavelength, takes the hassle out of finding locum work. We find the locum vacancies, look after the paperwork and manage all the negotiations with the hospital or medical practice.
Working in different locations also helps to grow your network by meeting new people, developing your contacts, skills and knowledge from outside your normal circle.
5. Freedom and flexibility
Locum work gives you the freedom and flexibility to work when and where you want. You have the freedom to create your own schedule, choose which placement you accept, and for how long. There is a range of placement types available, some lasting a few days and others going for many months — perfect for doctors who want to see and explore a new location or who might have more time on their hands to commit.
Traditionally, locum work was how hospitals filled last-minute, unexpected vacancies. But nowadays locum work can also include more long-term positions, with doctor shortages being common among rural clinics, hospitals and even busy city practices.
While locum work has always been popular among junior doctors, giving them the flexibility to work while studying, or during holidays, it’s now increasingly popular among doctors looking to retire. Locum work gives retiring doctors the opportunity to work around their changing life circumstances and to stay relevant, especially when bridging the gap from full-time work to retirement.
6. Job satisfaction
Visiting doctors are always in demand and offer retired doctors the perfect opportunity to renew their enthusiasm. You get to enjoy new work environments, keep your skills relevant, help mentor younger doctors, meet new people while keeping physically and socially active.
There are also ample opportunities to cultivate a real sense of job satisfaction, with plenty of locum work located in regional areas where you can support local communities. For example, working in remote communities and practising indigenous health is an incredibly rewarding experience for many locum doctors. “My days are always interesting, challenging and satisfying. Working in Indigenous health is a great use of my medical education and it’s a humbling experience,” says Dr Sadruddin.
Are you ready to explore locum opportunities?
Locum work has many benefits, no matter where you are in your career. You can take advantage of attractive pay rates, see the beauty Australia has to offer, maintain flexibility in your work, keep relevant and make a difference.