Group of five doctors or medical professionals in white lab coats and blue scrubs.

The Advantages of Rural Locum Tenens Work: Exploring Career Growth and Diversity

Pursuit of Meaning in Medicine

Most people who enter the medical profession do so, at least in part, in the pursuit of meaning. That meaning may come from service, bringing healing to the sick and injured. It may come from a conviction to love, bringing comfort to those who are unwell. Maybe honing a well-rounded medical skillset is your goal for a meaningful career. Whatever your path, rural and remote medicine may be the setting where your search for meaning leads you! In this article, we will explore how a career in rural and remote locum tenens work can lend itself to career growth, working with diverse groups of people, and helping you to find meaning in your work.

Career Growth Through Rural Locum Tenens Work

female medical professional with male patient - locum tenens careerAs a recruiter, I hear from medical providers every day who choose their career path because they want to leave an impact. However, providers may find that they don’t get enough quality time with each patient, especially in busy clinics and hospitals. The good news is that there is meaningful work out there, often with a slower pace of life! Locum tenens assignments at healthcare facilities in rural areas with lower patient volumes, quality patient encounters, and less bureaucracy could be the career path you’re looking for!

Emergency Experience and Challenges

If you are a physician assistant or nurse practitioner eager to hone your emergency skills and get new experiences, there is no better setting than a remote outpatient clinic or Critical Access Hospital. For medical providers interested in making that leap into remote medicine work, we wrote a blog article on how to build your emergency skillset. For most of the facilities we staff, we require NPs and PAs to have a minimum of two years of experience, preferably in emergency medicine, but we also work with providers who have clinic-only experience. Physicians are qualified to work with us out of residency, but again, specializing in emergency medicine can be helpful!

Transitioning Throughout Your Career

Since working in rural and remote locations can be an appealing option for providers, we work with them in all stages of their careers. Many of the providers who we work with have been practicing for decades, so it’s easy for them to transition into rural healthcare. For new providers, taking positions after graduation where you have opportunities to work in emergency medicine (even moonlighting) or in full-time rural positions can be beneficial. Basically, start your career trajectory with rural medicine in mind if you’re fresh out of school!

Serving Diverse and Underserved Populations

The WMS Mission and Origin

Beyond career growth and expanded skills, many medical providers seek opportunities to serve the underserved. Our company was founded on that mission in 2010 after Mary Ellen Doty spent years practicing medicine in Bush Alaska and saw firsthand the lack of access to quality medical care in Alaska Native populations. In the Interior, quality medical care can be a day’s plane flight away if one is lucky enough to get to Fairbanks or Anchorage.

Expanding Our Mission and Reach

Mary Ellen decided to do something about it and close that gap by bringing quality medical providers to these areas. Over a decade later, our company’s core purpose remains simply to Care: improving lives in rural and remote communities. We stand with and support hundreds of medical professionals who choose to find the underserved people who are difficult to reach and bring life-changing care to their communities.

Access to Quality Care

Our company’s mission has expanded far beyond Alaska Native villages. We now staff facilities on multiple Indian Reservations in Montana, as well as rural towns across Alaska, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming. The common theme in every location we staff is access. Patients who need quality care the most often have the least access to it. Our company’s mission has always been to close that gap. Many providers share that mission, desiring to serve a diverse group of patients who have so much to gain from simply receiving medical care and advocacy. If you have a similar desire or want to learn more about Mary Ellen’s journey to start this company, you can watch more of her story below.

Quality of Patient Encounters in Rural Areas

Slowing Down for Meaningful Care

Most providers who have experience working in busy hospitals, urgent care, or family practice clinics acknowledge that it’s not enough to simply see a patient. There must be adequate time set aside for each patient encounter. In rural areas, patient volumes can be as low as only 4 or 5 patients per day. These settings allow you to slow down, connect with each patient in a way that builds trust, and take the time to deeply understand their needs.

Building Long-Lasting Relationships

This clinical context in rural communities allows medical providers (even locum tenens providers!) to build long-lasting relationships with entire families. Unlike urban areas, rural providers will see patients across the lifespan so it’s very common to see patients from three or four generations within the same family. Many WMS providers have reported making lifelong friendships with members of the communities we staff. Our medical providers are welcomed into the community with warmth and exuberance because the quality medical care they bring is so desperately needed.

Focus on Quality Care

Often in rural areas, efficiency and cost are not major motivators in care decisions or patient scheduling, so you can focus on what matters most: quality care. With the right medical provider who really cares, and the right clinical context to provide that care, life-changing patient encounters happen every day. If you are a talented medical provider who wants to leave an impact and serve well, please contact us and include your CV so we can discuss opportunities.

Embracing a Meaningful Path

We all want to wake up each morning excited for the work ahead of us, and to lay our heads down each night knowing we poured ourselves out in the service of a higher purpose. A meaningful career can feel elusive for many in these challenging economic times and over-saturated job market, but there are many opportunities to find what you are looking for.

Our company is honored to have provided the opportunity for hundreds of medical providers to pursue meaningful work and adventure without compromising their income. Whether you are looking to grow your locum tenens career, engage with diverse groups of people, or find meaning in your work, rural and remote locums work offers an exciting change to anyone willing to take the leap.

Resources for Further Exploration and Locum Tenens Career Growth

If you are ready to take that leap or want to learn more about what you can do to become qualified for the work we do, please reach out to a recruiter with a copy of your CV. We also recommend David Warren’s YouTube channel, where you can watch well-produced videos about rural locum tenens work from a veteran FNP who has worked with WMS many times. Also, for examples of the kinds of work our company has available, review our job board regularly to see if your experience and availability matches our clients’ needs. No matter where you are in your career, our knowledgeable team will be eager to talk with you.