Saturday, 24 October 2015

To locum or not to locum? Part 2



So is locuming really for you? Part 2


  • It depends what you're after, personally I missed the days of having a place in a team. You will find when locuming that you are generally put on operations or reception but generally operations. Lets be honest this is easiest for them, they don't have to waste time showing you computer systems if you're only there for a week. Don't get me wrong ops are fine, but day in day out can get tedious. Some practices are better and will let you join in with nurse consults etc but this is generally when they're seen what you're capable of.

  • Another typical thing I came across is the practices that always run on locums. These can be easy to get in to but hard going as you will find the permanent staff have introduced themselves hundreds of times over. You're just another face that they won't see again in a week, so you will get ones that don't bother and loath helping you. However on these occasions if you're a go getter you'll be fine, just get stuck in, open every cupboard find out where everything's kept and then you'll have less to have to ask for help on. That said don't be afraid to ask for help, every practice has its quirks, set ways of doing things and a bewildering different blood machine to get used to :p. 

Lunch Breaks


  • Most places won't pay you a lunch break, so make sure this is something you confirm when you start. As I've worked at places where they give you one hour and others where its only 30mins. An hour you think whooo great but....it's a lot of money to lose trying to waste time in an unfamiliar place or more likely sitting in your car having a breather. 

Work locally or travel?


  • I'm not teaching you to suck eggs but make sure you know where you're going, some practices are in very obscure places and can be a nightmare to find, looks bad if  you're late on the start of a two week position.
  • Work out if you want to work locally or you're happy to travel. If your choice is local, work out your boundaries and stick to them, i.e. work out fuel costs, there's really no point paying out £40 in fuel if your only earning £90. Also by doing this research the agencies can't catch you out because believe me they will try. Whether its on purpose or not I have been told so many times that a practice is within my one hour limit, only to go away and have a think, do my research and find out its a 2 hr journey!  If you're staying away check if it's in a b&b or at the practice, beware the latter as you'll probably get roped in to inpatient night checks etc. Stories regarding b&bs still make me chuckle, not at the time I might add. One time I stayed in a B&B whilst starting at a practice in a big city (I wont name names) and lets just say I was shown to the 'pink' room. The owners were lovely but had strange rules, one where you weren't allowed to be in the B&B during certain hours, great you think you're at work......we all know nursing shifts are all over the place and this wasn't a great combination. There's only so many times you can walk around an Aldi to waste time. You've been warned, haha I've stayed in lots of nice ones as well.
  • Also check if your client will pay for accommodation or whether you will have to foot the bill, this has caught out a few people I know. One nurse I met had her own camper-van, its not as crazy idea as it sounds, least she knew she had some home comforts with her.

Be prepared:

  • This is a tough one, if you've been used to one practice and their set way of doing things be prepared for doing things other peoples ways. You will differ in opinions to some people and that's ok, but if you feel their way or standards make you feel uncomfortable say so. This is a small point but an important one for example you may be used to always placing an IV catheter for any GA procedure, however in the practice you're locuming in the vet may choose to do the injection off the needle. Now at this point you have to remember you're an RVN therefore you have your own responsibilities to your listing and if you're doing the anesthetic and would feel happier having a catheter in place say so, but be prepared for a difference in opinion. It's something you get used to and differences can sometimes be a healthy way to learn other ways to doing things. However as I said if you're not comfortable just say. 
  • On the above point, I always get asked have you ever walked out of a practice and never came back? Haha I always answer no, I believe you can put up with anything for a short time however there have been places I wouldn't go back to. That set I've been very lucky and only had very minor differences in opinions. I would never however compromise my standards or put an animal at risk, if this ever happens to you if possible I would suggest you walk away and don't go back.

Next....The most important thing, PAY


  • Be warned some companies aren't great at paying, this is always something I warn people about who are thinking of locuming. If you have monthly bills to pay or a mortgage beware, perhaps its too much of a risk for you. I have had companies in the past take 3mths to pay me and even that's involved multiple phone calls and chasing. The majority are good and pay 1 to every 1.5mths, some I've had that pay within a few days of me submitting a time-sheet, but most aren't this good. Its just something to consider as it can be quite hit and miss. Make sure you take copies of what you send, and it doesn't hurt to phone their accounts department to check they've received your time-sheet (as this is another good one - oh we've not appeared to receive it.) If you're with an agency this is also their responsibility to chase, you are paying them after all for the service however again in the past sometimes its been quicker for me to do the leg work.

I think that should answer most of your questions, however please comment with other points if you want some more info :)

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