Meet Dr. Alice T.
Location of Locum Assignment(s)
I wanted an adventure after finishing my family medicine residency and wasn’t quite ready to settle down yet. My plan was to spend two years in Alaska, but I ended up staying eight years at three different sites – Kotzebue, Wasilla, and Valdez. Practicing in rural Alaska taught me to be a better doc, and expanded my range of skills to get the best outcome for the available resources we had. Stabilizing trauma patients, reducing fractures and dislocations, and delivering babies are some of the skills needed in this environment. It was hard work, but a rewarding career. It was great fun learning the local culture as life in Alaska was very different than “outside.” After traveling to over 40 countries, I still think Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Eventually, I moved back to the lower 48 and took more traditional outpatient jobs. I missed the breadth of practice but enjoyed a saner work schedule. Over time, with the changes in the practice environment, work became less satisfying, and I retired after 21 years.
A year later, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to give up medicine entirely and decided to do a local locums assignment to keep up my clinical skills. However, I wasn’t looking forward to getting back into the daily grind. Luckily, I came across an ad for a locums job advertised for Alaska with WMS. It was an outpatient job, on the road system – another adventure!
From the first contact, WMS was great to work with – the job description was accurate, everyone was responsive, and the deployment went by without a hitch. I felt a bit spoiled on my assignment. I had ample time to spend with my patients, had a lot of ancillary help, and there was a local hospital to send our sickest patients. My commute was a 2-minute walk to the clinic. My apartment was on a bluff overlooking a beach, where I took many walks. In my spare time, there were plenty of places to explore on the Kenai Peninsula and in the Anchorage areas.
One of the biggest surprises compared to my previous experience is the current variety of jobs. You can still be a full-scope physician, but now there are also outpatient-only, hospitalists, and ER/UC jobs. With the shortage of primary care providers, there is a large variety and number of locums jobs available. My advice to others is to find jobs that bring adventure and passion to your life and career. Be flexible, and remember you are a guest – the community will surely appreciate the skills you bring.