For healthcare providers who enjoy the great outdoors, welcome the challenge of an austere environment, and want to go outside of their comfort zone, taking locum tenens assignments in Alaska can be especially rewarding.
Southcentral Alaska comprises the Anchorage/Mat-Su urban area and the Gulf Coast region. Over half of the state’s population is contained within Southcentral Alaska, mostly in the Anchorage/Mat-Su area. The Gulf Coast area includes the beautiful Kenai Peninsula, Copper River Valley immediately north of Anchorage, and all other lands along the Gulf of Alaska. This region is the common first-choice destination for healthcare providers interested in locum tenens in Alaska for a variety of reasons.
This article is the third of our “Locum Tenens: Alaska by Region” series, intended to teach providers more about the areas that we staff. Read on to learn why Southcentral Alaska is a must-work destination for locum tenens interested in rural and remote assignments.
Why You Should Work in Southcentral Alaska as a Locum Tenens
Most pictures included in this blog article are photographs captured by the locum tenens providers who have contracted with us in the area. You will have access to these views while working in Southcentral Alaska.
Southcentral Alaska is on the Road System
Differentiated by its developed road system and infrastructure, urban amenities mere minutes from stunning natural beauty, and diverse patient demographics, the Southcentral region of Alaska is always in high demand by locum tenens providers and an ideal first stop for those who have never been to the Last Frontier State.
The first differentiator, and most immediately obvious, is the relatively well-developed infrastructure in Southcentral Alaska. As a state, Alaska is almost incomprehensibly vast. If you add the land mass of Montana, Texas and California together, it is still smaller than the state of Alaska. Most of this land is absolute wilderness with no roads connecting the sparsely-populated towns and villages. Southcentral Alaska is the only region of the state where almost all towns are accessible by road. Not only that, but there are numerous major ports and railways across the region with the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport connecting the region with the rest of the world. This accessibility has very positive implications for medical providers.
Another great reason to choose assignments in Southcentral Alaska is its stunning natural beauty nearby population centers and urban amenities. Far from the Arctic tundra, Southcentral Alaska has seven different mountain ranges, active volcanoes, and hundreds of miles of breathtaking coastline all visible from the city and easily accessible by road no matter where in the region you are working.
Types of Positions
WMS regularly has openings in this region of the state with rural clinics that require experience in primary care and emergency medicine. These positions require providers to share call for after-hours and weekend coverage. We also have many opportunities at urgent care facilities and primary care clinics in this region, opportunities that are not available in the more remote areas of the state. These jobs don’t require providers to take call. All clinics use electronic health records and have road access to larger healthcare systems to provide support with easy medivacs to the next level of care.
If you are a medical provider considering work in Southcentral Alaska, keep in mind that placements may be as short as a couple of shifts in an urgent care facility, or up to multiple months in a primary care clinic or remote village. Our company staffs medical positions in the vibrant seafood industry and other non-clinical settings too, so opportunities abound in this region beyond what locum tenens providers would typically expect. Longer assignments are always negotiable, and often assignments can be split among multiple providers if you have limited availability. Let us know what you can do, and we’ll work with you to find a job that fits your schedule! We have a dedicated account executive who has extensive knowledge of this area and the facilities we work with. We’d be happy to speak with you.
Still, another clear differentiator for providers who may want to choose Southcentral Alaska is the patient population and unique clinical experience. Working in Southcentral Alaska exposes providers to a diverse set of health challenges, including those related to extreme weather conditions, geographical isolation, and the health needs of indigenous communities. That remote Alaska feel is still very existent in Southcentral Alaska, but this region also has a wider range of patient demographics. The most multicultural area in the state, providers in Southcentral Alaska will meet patients from all walks of life, socioeconomic status and ethnicity.
What Locum Tenens Need to Know About the Weather in Southcentral Alaska
Southcentral Alaska is a subarctic coastal climate that enjoys four distinct seasons, well-forested throughout with a temperate rainforest on the Kenai Peninsula and boreal forest further towards the interior. With its miles of coastline and mountains all around, weather can change quickly! Anyone traveling from out of state should pack according to the time of year and check the forecast before traveling.
Summers in this region are mild and pleasant, with long days peaking at about 20 hours of daylight each day at the summer solstice. Average highs range in the 60s and days are typically sunny. Spring and autumn are the transitionary seasons and are characterized by being short. Spring typically extends through the month of April, and fall through the month of September.
Winters in Southcentral Alaska are long and cold. Usually starting in October, wintertime lasts through the month of March typically. Snowfall is common and accumulates throughout the year but temperatures do not dip too far below zero as they would in the Interior. Average lows in December are around 10 degrees Fahrenheit, much more temperate than the Arctic region of the state.
Regardless of the time of year that you take an assignment in Alaska, even though Southcentral Alaska experiences all four seasons, the weather can be unpredictable and often wet or cold. It can vary greatly from day to day, so preparing for the weather is imperative for locum tenens who work in the region. Be sure to read our blog about packing for assignments before heading out.
Traveling in Southcentral Alaska as a Locum Tenens
In a reality you’ll find throughout Alaska, traveling throughout Southcentral Alaska can require specific planning. Have no fear, though, as a locum tenens provider with WMS, we’ll take care of arranging all the travel for assignments ahead of time. Our team of knowledgeable operations associates work closely with a travel agency specialized in rural travel so you can rest assured that every trip detail will be handled with expertise and care.
Your first stop in Southcentral will almost always be the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Depending on the worksite, you will pick up a rental car in Anchorage to drive to your assignment or take a regional flight directly to the town where you practice medicine. Keep in mind that in this coastal region, you should expect travel delays in some cases. If you are flying from Anchorage to your assignment, those flights are sometimes delayed due to excessive snow or fog.
For providers renting vehicles in Anchorage, our team will ensure you have a vehicle with AWD (All-Wheel Drive) and is equipped for inclement weather. If there is ever snow or ice on the ground or fog, we always recommend allowing extra hours of travel time before you need to be at your assignment. Our team will plan your travel to allow that extra time for driving, especially from October to April.
Popular Destinations in Southcentral Alaska for Locum Tenens
(Please note that for client privacy, we do not typically indicate the town or village our healthcare providers work in. Any mention below of specific towns does not necessarily imply that our company is currently staffing a facility in that area.)
First and foremost, Southcentral Alaska is home to stunning natural landscapes, including glaciers, fjords, mountains, active volcanoes, and forests. The region is also abundant in wildlife, including a dense population of grizzly bears, moose, eagles, whales, and sea lions. Outdoor activities are plentiful in Southcentral Alaska. For healthcare providers who enjoy hiking, fishing, or kayaking, this destination offers plenty of opportunities to get outside. Below, we will summarize some of the can’t-miss destinations in Southcentral Alaska for any medical provider visiting the area.
One of the biggest takeaways that many locum tenens get from working in Southcentral Alaska is the opportunity to become immersed in the local culture. Southcentral Alaska is a multicultural area with the most diverse demographics of anywhere in the state, especially in the Anchorage metropolitan area. This region is home to several communities of Alaska Natives, including the Athabascan people in the Copper River region and Kenaitze Tribe on the Kenai Peninsula.
Kodiak Island is a very popular island destination for hunting, fishing, and sightseeing. Its verdant landscape has some of the oldest settler history in the state, with Russian explorers first landing on Kodiak Island in the early 1700s.
The Kenai Peninsula is a world-renowned region of the state and one of the most well-developed tourism destinations and highly sought-after for people who want to relocate to Alaska. With its robust road system, providers can easily access the area’s many national and state parks. We recommend visiting the Chugach National Forest, an almost 6-million-acre nature reserve that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. There are also many glaciers and beautiful small towns to visit across the region.
Homer Alaska is a very popular destination for visitors who flock to the Homer Spit and enjoy the almost 360-degree views of breathtaking mountains in the distance. There are many other beautiful and historical towns like Seward, Ninilchik, Soldotna, and Seward that draw visitors in with great restaurants, museums, and access to outdoor activities in every direction.
Of course, Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley) looms in the distance for providers working north of Anchorage in the Copper River Valley. The tallest mountain in North America, Denali is a bucket-list item for many mountaineers around the world. Denali National Park is one of the most popular outdoor destinations in Alaska.
For more in-depth information about the tourism opportunities in Southcentral Alaska, Travel Alaska has a wonderful website that we trust you will find helpful. A lifetime wouldn’t be long enough to see the end of what this beautiful region has to offer.
Southcentral Alaska is known for its stunning natural beauty, and working as a locum tenens here can allow you to experience this firsthand. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities like hiking and fishing or simply enjoy being surrounded by nature, Southcentral Alaska has plenty to offer.
Working as a locum tenens in Southcentral Alaska can be a fulfilling and enriching experience, allowing you to positively impact the local communities while also exploring a beautiful and unique part of the world.
If you are interested in working locum tenens (or permanent) assignments in Southcentral Alaska, reach out to us. We’re happy to get to know you better and discuss if jobs in this unique region of Alaska could be right for you.
Additionally, if you’re looking to hire locum tenens in your medical practice and are located in Southcentral Alaska, Wilderness Medical Staffing would be proud to partner with your team and find the right fit for you!