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. This article is the first of our “Locum Tenens: Alaska by Region” series, intended to teach providers more about the areas that we staff. Read on to learn about why Southeast Alaska is a must-work destination for locum tenens who are interested in rural and remote assignments.
Southeast Alaska is a draw for healthcare providers for a variety of reasons, with this region of Alaska the nearest to travel to in the state from the lower 48. Located just off the western edge of Canada, extending down along Northern British Columbia, Southeast Alaska is an excellent destination to consider taking assignments for your locum tenens career for many reasons.
Why You Should Work in Southeast Alaska as a Locum Tenens
Much of Southeast Alaska consists of rural and remote areas with diverse communities of people. In many instances, rural communities are in medically underserved areas, allowing healthcare providers to make a real impact with their presence. In Alaska, it’s not uncommon for towns and villages to be off the road system, as well, making access to healthcare exceedingly difficult for those who permanently reside there.
As a locum tenens, you have flexibility with your career, which means you may have opportunities to work in different facilities throughout the state. If you find that you enjoy working at facilities in Southeast Alaska, you may be able to return to the same client to create consistency of care for patients or work in different facilities to travel around more of the region.
It’s important to learn about any position you’re interested in as a locum tenens, but in rural and remote environments, it’s critical to gain additional knowledge about the facility and area, as well. You may find stark contrasts to what you’re used to including patient load (it’s often less than what you’ll find in urban settings) or responsibilities (especially if you’ll be a solo provider).
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 opportunities at urgent care facilities and urban primary care clinics. These jobs don’t require providers to take call. All clinics use electronic health records and have access to larger healthcare systems to provide support and next level of care.
Placements may be as short as a couple of shifts in an urgent care facility, or up to multiple months in a remote location. 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!
If you’re considering a position in Southeast Alaska, we have a dedicated account executive who has extensive knowledge of this area and the facilities that we work with. We’d be happy to speak with you.
What Locum Tenens Need to Know About the Weather in Southeast Alaska
If you’re assuming that all of Alaska has feet of snow throughout the year, you’d be wrong. Southeast Alaska includes a mild climate compared to the rest of Alaska, thanks to the Pacific Ocean. In this part of Alaska, you’ll get to enjoy all four seasons due to the maritime climate. Much of Southeast Alaska is a temperate rainforest, dense old-growth forests of cedar and other evergreens cover most of the landscape across the archipelago. In any season, a walk through these forests to hear the wildlife and smell the trees is a powerful experience.
Summer is a popular time for tourists, due to longer hours of daylight and warmer temperatures. Don’t expect to be basking in the sun as you would in other states, though. The highs in the summertime typically only reach into the 60s Fahrenheit, with exceptions for warmer weather.
Fall is greeted in Southeast Alaska with more rainfall than in the summer, fewer visitors, and temperatures between the mid-40s to mid-50s.
In the winter, Southeast Alaska experiences cooler temperatures, typically between the mid-30s to mid-40s, however, it can dip below freezing. You’ll also experience snow, making it a destination for skiing and snowmobiling or tourists, even though winter is tourist off-season. And you’ll want to plan for fewer hours of daylight.
Spring in Southeast Alaska includes longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures than winter. Animals come out of hibernation in the spring and migratory birds fly back into the region, so it’s a popular time for wildlife viewing. You’ll also experience more rainfall in the spring while the snow melts away.
Regardless of what time of year you take an assignment in Alaska, and even though Southeast Alaska experiences all four seasons, the weather can be unpredictable and often wet. 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 Southeast Alaska as a Locum Tenens
In a reality that you’ll find throughout Alaska, traveling throughout Southeast Alaska, can require some 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.
Don’t be surprised if traveling throughout Southeast Alaska is a little bit different than what you’re used to. Much of this region is comprised of archipelagos, making traditional vehicle travel impossible. Transportation options can vary depending on the area you’re traveling to and from. Additionally, the weather can also have a profound effect on how you’ll get from place to place.
The primary modes of transportation throughout Southeast Alaska include ferries, air travel, and rental cars. Many times, WMS providers will take a major air carrier to a larger city, such as Juneau, and then will take a small plane or ferry to the area where they’ll work. They will then have access to a vehicle to take them to their destination.
Popular Destinations in Southeast Alaska for Locum Tenens
(Please note that for client privacy, we do not typically indicate the exact town or village that our healthcare providers work in.)
Southeast Alaska is home to several tourist destinations, as well as villages that are home to Alaska Native communities. You can also find popular destinations, like Glacier Bay National Park and the Tongass National Forest (the largest national forest in the United States) in Southeast Alaska.
In terms of larger cities (which are still small compared to most cities in the lower 48), Juneau is the capital of Alaska and includes opportunities for whale watching, fishing, and visiting the Mendenhall Glacier. (Check out this photo from one of our providers of the Mendenhall Glacier during a visit to Juneau.)
If you enjoy fishing, Ketchikan is known as the “salmon capital of the world” and is home to the Tongass Historical Museum, as well as many other attractions. You can find several other fishing towns in Southeast Alaska, as well.
While not all locum tenens assignments in Southeast Alaska are in tourist destinations, you’ll still be placed in rural areas with unique histories, beautiful scenery, and plenty of wildlife.
What To Do During Your Time Off as a Locum Tenens in Southeast Alaska
First and foremost, Southeast Alaska is home to stunning natural landscapes, including glaciers, fjords, and forests. The region is also abundant in wildlife, including bears, eagles, whales, and sea lions.
Outdoor activities are plentiful in Southeast Alaska. For healthcare providers who enjoy hiking, fishing, or kayaking, this destination offers plenty of opportunities to get outside. Some locations also offer boat tours or access to the road system for scenic drives. Depending on how far away the activity is from your assignment and the weather, on your days off, you may also be able to go zip-lining, white-water rafting, or dogsledding.
One of the biggest takeaways that many locum tenens get from working in Southeast Alaska is the opportunity to become immersed in the local culture. This region is home to several communities of Alaska Natives, including the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian tribes, each with their own cultures, traditions, and histories.
Southeast 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, Southeast Alaska has plenty to offer.
Working as a locum tenens in Southeast Alaska can be a fulfilling and enriching experience, allowing you to make a positive impact on the local community while also exploring a beautiful and unique part of the world.
If you are interested in working locum tenens (or permanent) assignments in Southeast 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 Southeast Alaska, Wilderness Medical Staffing would be proud to partner with your team and find the right fit for you!