Everything you NEED to know to start an international locum tenens adventure

A big thank you to locumstory.com for sponsoring this post! Locumstory.com is an educational online resource about all things locum tenens. Their website has tons of information about the ins and outs of locum tenens and first-hand perspectives from locum physicians to help you determine if locum tenens is right for you.  

Many physicians try international locum tenens to explore the world, “live like a local” in another country, and enjoy a slower pace of living. International locum tenens is also great for families, allowing them to experience other cultures and new ways of living as well. 

Here’s everything you need to know to start an international locum tenens adventure.

What’s the time commitment for international locum assignments?

The first step to making your locums dream come true is asking yourself how long you can commit to it. International locums assignments typically require a longer preparation time and earlier commitment than a domestic locums assignment because of the amount of paperwork and time involved for visas, licensing, and credentialing in another country.

Some overseas assignments, like in Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands, can be as short as three months. However, even these are trending toward a six-month minimum. Most countries — like New Zealand and Australia — ask for at least six months but prefer nine months to a full-year commitment. 

It requires a lot of effort and investment to bring a locum physician overseas, and it also takes a while for the doctor to get up to speed and running in a healthcare setting so different from a typical U.S.-mainland facility.

💡PHYSICIAN PERSPECTIVE: Preparing for locums in New Zealand: What I wish I’d known

Questions to ask yourself before taking an international locums assignment

To ensure a good fit and experience for you, your patients, and the healthcare facility where you’ll be working, here are some questions to ask yourself.

Where do you want to go?

Not every country offers locum positions, but many are available. A good way to start is by checking out the job listings at a reputable international locum tenens agency like Global Medical Staffing. Then, decide which locations pique your interest. For instance, in Australia, most of the locations will be rural, since this is where the greatest need is. In New Zealand, assignments can be rural or urban.

💡LEARN MORE: What countries hire locum tenens physicians?

Do you want to bring family?

If you plan to bring school-age kids, try to go for at least a year since school seasons vary by country. For example, school seasons in New Zealand and Australia start in January. Also, some of the more rural townships typically send kids to boarding school, so many physicians opt to homeschool their kids while abroad.

Do you have a pet?

If so, are you OK with leaving your pet behind in the care of a family member or close friend? If not, it’s important to know that your animal may have to spend time in quarantine. This can be costly and hard on your pet, but keeping your furry family-member close may be worth it.

💡EXPLORE DEEPER: What to know about taking your family to New Zealand

How do I land the just-right international locum assignment for me?

Get help from the professionals! Global Medical Staffing has placed physicians in New Zealand and Australia for over 25 years, and many other locations for over a dozen years. They know their clients and the locations well enough to ensure a good fit based on your skills, experience, credentials, desires, whether you’re bringing family, etc. 

How soon should I start if I’m interested in international locum tenens?

First, it’s important to understand the timeframe. Most international assignments have at least a four-month turnaround from when a physician accepts a position to boots on the ground. This is in order to get through the visa, credentialing, and licensing processes.

If you want to do an assignment within the next year, start talking with an agency now. Global Medical Staffing’s clients are advertising for placements six to nine months in advance. They are happy to talk with you as far as one year out — to answer questions, to get you started on gathering necessary paperwork, and to begin vetting opportunities.

Once you express interest in an assignment, the interview process with your prospective employer may also take time. For clients on the other side of the world, completing the interview process can take a couple of weeks to a month.

There may be other factors that can cause delays. For example, New Zealand has especially particular reference requirements. You’ll want to make sure that you can provide these.

Want to get started on your international locums adventure?

Start the conversation about international locum tenens — with your family first and then with an international locum tenens agency. 

Want to make your first international locums assignment successful? Tune in for our next blog post!

Now, I’d love to hear from you!

Would you be open to using locums to ‘test-drive’ practicing medicine internationally?

Let me know in the comments below!

Kari Redfield is a professional content marketing writer. She also is a novelist and writes for newsstand magazines. She’s been known to spend weeks in the U.S. West in her Aliner, checking out classic trad rock climbs, epic mountain bike rides, and other adventures.



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