You’re a newly qualified GP – congratulations! So what now? There are many avenues you are able to explore as a newly qualified GP, which only makes the decision-making harder. Have you considered working as a locum GP? Have a read over some of the advantages and disadvantages of working as a locum GP, and see if this type of work could appeal to you!
The type of GP you become will depend on your inner motivations.
As a locum GP: you will be able to reap the benefits of flexible working hours and, revel in the advantages of not being tied into a partnership contract. This is a particularly attractive advantage of locum GP work that may be appealing to a newly qualified GP.
“78% of locum GPs cite flexible working hours as a key reason to becoming a locum” (Pulse GP Jobs Survey, 2015).
Imagine working the hours you choose, and not having to compromise on your earnings in the process. With this in mind, as a locum GP there are a number of different roles that are available to you:
Out of hours GP: Unlike a salaried GP, this role is mainly clinical in nature with minimal continuity of care. There are very few patients that you will see on a regular basis. If, as newly qualified GP, you like the idea of focusing mainly on the clinical side of things, and putting your newly-obtained knowledge into practice, without having to worry about building strong relationships with your patients, this could be a good role for you.
Appraisal and Revalidation
A necessary requirement for all GPs is appraisal and revalidation. Your first five years will be a crucial period in which you should try to collate and scan evidence of learning and reflection. Part of the revalidation process is being able to demonstrate that you took part in yearly appraisals which outline the full scope of work you covered including your own reflections on some of the following:
- continuing professional development (CPD)
- feedback from colleagues and patients
- significant events
- quality improvement activity
- review of complaints and compliments
Arguably, it would be easier to collate this information if you spent some time working as a locum GP, as it would provide a greater scope of reflection, and would provide evidence that you are able to adapt to a range of different environments, whilst still displaying an impressive quality in the standard of work completed.
It is important that you start looking into this area very early on in your working career because collecting evidence over time will make the whole process easier for you, no matter which career path you choose to explore.
As with anything in life, when you are a new to something you are still learning, which means that you may feel out of your depth in certain areas before you are able to properly get into the swing of things. Obviously, you know what you're doing, and have all of your qualifications behind you to prove it, but at times, you may feel like a lone soldier out in the field, unsure of where to turn to for back-up.
Maybe you feel like your colleagues all know what they're doing and would think less of you if you continue to ask questions. But if you are unsure about anything e.g. how to use the company system, or even something as simple as not knowing where something is kept – you should never feel afraid to ask for help. Many new GPs even take on a mentor to help them get through their first five years from being newly qualified to revalidation. Plus it is always better to ask questions and learn from them than suffer in silence and continue being unsure – the chances are, if you're on edge, then this anxiety will rub off on your patients.
Make sure you are clear about how to deal with difficult patients by reading the practice policy if they have one. This will help you to ensure that you and your patients understand the boundaries that have been put in place and what constitutes as acceptable behaviour.
Additional reading: The benefits of being a locum GP for more information.
Getting started with locum GP work
As a locum GP you are able to earn an impressive income; start building your network and work flexible hours within days of your registration.
Rather than doing it yourself, using a medical recruitment agency to help you find locum GP work removes the stress that a newly qualified GP may already be experiencing, by helping with the administrative side of things i.e.: making you aware of exactly what documents need to be updated, finding you suitable work, and dealing with all of your invoices.
"Almost two-thirds (64%) of freelance (locum) GPs say they do not envisage looking for a GP partnership in the future” (General Practitioners Committee - Future of General Practice Survey 2015)
Hopefully having read this article, you feel you have some more insight into what it means to work as a locum GP, and perhaps you feel you are ready to decide what it is you'd like to do next.