One of the benefits of locum tenens is that it allows you the freedom to try different roles and practice environments as you figure out what you want your career to look like.

Dr. Jane Benson is a great example. She started practicing locums right out of residency as a way of gaining experience before her fellowship. Since high school, she had always planned to pursue sports medicine, but she found a new career path through locums that allowed her to combine the best of both worlds.

Here’s what she had to say about how locums helped her find a new path:

What made you decide to try locums?

I went into locums straight out of residency. It was the only position that I applied for, and that was when I met Jessica, [my consultant at Hayes Locums]. 

The reason I wanted to do locums was that I really liked traveling and I liked the variability. It also paid well enough where I only had to work one to two weeks a month. I had a lot of time at home, which made the time away worth it.  

At the time, I was planning to do a sports medicine fellowship in a year or two, so I thought locums would be a great temporary position. Plus, you learn a lot by working in all the different hospitals.

I’m actually in the Navy as well––I went from active duty to reserves when I did my pediatric civilian residency. That was another reason why I wanted to do locums––I wanted the flexibility to fit in my Navy Reserve work.

How did you move away from sports medicine and continue doing locums?

Sports medicine is what initially started me off on the medical school track. When I was in high school, I filled out this form on what you should do for a career, and it said that I should be a sports physician. And in order to do that, I knew I had to go to medical school, so I just thought, Okay, I’ll do that. But I had no idea what it entailed when I started off on that path.

I had been so focused on sports medicine that I didn’t even really look at other options or specialties. But I realized during my third year of residency that I really liked inpatient hospitalist work, and then locums took me further down that road.

My first locums assignments were all Pediatric Hospitalist positions, and they were amazing––great locations and great hospitals with great people to work with. So I just decided to keep going in that direction, and I’m still doing it now.

How did your work with the Navy play into your decision?

I did my family medicine internship with the Navy, and then served nine years active duty as a flight surgeon––which is just a primary care doctor for a flight squadron. But I really wanted to do pediatrics. I knew I could get to sports medicine through the pediatrics residency route, and there just aren’t as many pediatrics options in the Navy. 

So I decided to transition to the reserves when I did my civilian pediatric residency, because I wouldn’t be able to do residency and active duty at the same time. I wanted to stay with the Navy because I had put nine years into it, and I really liked what I was doing as a flight doc.

Now I have the best of both worlds: I get to be a Pediatric Hospitalist on the civilian side, and I still do sports medicine work with my Navy sailors.

You mentioned that one of the reasons that you were excited about locums was the ability to travel. Can you talk more about what that’s been like?

It’s kind of funny, actually: my Navy job is at home and my civilian job involves traveling.

It is really exciting to be able to travel with locums. Jessica, my consultant, knows I love exploring new areas, so she always tries to find me those types of assignments. My first assignment was in Tucson, Arizona, which is a great place. I also went to Montana during that first year. I probably would have never gone there without locums, and now it’s one of my favorite places. 

I still have a goal of being able to travel across the country in an RV and go to all the places where I’ve done locums, and visit all the friends I made. I’m still in touch with probably at least one or two friends or more from every city that I’ve been to.

That’s why I want to keep doing locums as much as I can: because I love learning from all the different hospitals and all the different people. 

*This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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