Location of Locum Assignment(s)
Briefly describe your pre-medical and/or pre-locum work experience
I started out in EMS, working as a paramedic in New Mexico. My first job as a PA was on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico which was a great introduction to medicine. Prior to working at Wilderness, I also worked in standard family medicine and at a busy community emergency department in Colorado.
What drew you to locum tenens work?
Like many providers in busy family medicine practices, I became a bit burned out and ready for change. Working in rural Alaska for native communities was a perfect combination of adventure, beautiful landscapes, and caring for native people. I’ve also enjoyed blocks of time off to travel with my family.
Wilderness was responsive and easy to work with from the first conversation. They have a working knowledge of the communities they serve and support their staff well.
What have you enjoyed most about your locum tenens experiences?
Flying into small communities in remote Alaska to work at the local clinic is an honor. People at clinics and in these small communities are always supportive and open to interaction with an outsider. Going running through local communities and in amazing. Alaskan landscapes has also been magical.
What surprised you the most about your locum tenens experiences?
How welcoming people are. Locals really care that I am comfortable and feel welcome.
How has your experience been with WMS?
Excellent overall. They take the time to build relationships with employers to make sure that assignments are well matched to the provider. Occasionally travel has been difficult and the support from Wilderness is always solid.
What stands out to you about the communities and cultures you have interacted with as a locum tenens provider?
Every community and clinic is unique. There are many ways to approach delivering care and all seem to work fairly well. One commonality is a strong tie to the land, often through subsistence fishing and hunting.
What advice do you have for prospective locum tenens providers?
I think it is helpful to approach every clinic and community with humility and deep respect. Community members and other clinic staff are very capable and have effective ways of doing things. Showing that you take your professional responsibility seriously is also appreciated by patients. Housing and travel can have unexpected challenges, so be flexible and treat people kindly.
What’s the most interesting thing that you learned while on assignment?
The breadth of medical knowledge needed to care for people in villages is large and humbling. I’ve learned to call consultants freely and found that they are usually gracious and helpful. Learning all the local ways of living off the land and getting around without roads has been fascinating.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Locums work can be a wonderful opportunity to be a part of remote communities. It can be daunting but is so rewarding.