Many GPs turn to locum work because of the flexibility. When you gain more control of your time, how do you spend it? Even outside of shifts, they can widen clinical knowledge by pursuing their professional development and engaging with the wider community.
All GPs will be familiar with the need for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to succeed in their appraisals and revalidation. Many GPs take learning into their own hands with CPD peer groups. Locums come across many different people as they travel around different surgeries. Did anyone open your eyes to something new? Is there a specialist whose work piqued your interest? Ask yourself these questions to understand who to reach out to when forming or joining a CPD peer group. With the normalisation of online meetings, you can network with clinicians around the country on social media and online forums. If contacting people online, be professional, respectful and non-invasive. If they do not respond well, do not continue to pursue them.
Local Medical Committees (LMCs) provide resources for clinical development. They are independent organisations who support GPs and individuals. There is a mutual benefit between LMCs and locums. They can provide up-to-date information, formal training opportunities and support. You can convey your experience of working in different practices and make sure the needs of locums are heard so that the LMC can address them.
If it is something they enjoy, locum GPs can set aside time for writing and research. If there is a topic you are particularly passionate about, you can submit work to clinical journals, blogs, and newsletters. Writing and research allow you to refine your clinical knowledge, network and start conversations with other clinicians around the country.
Give back to your community
Some GPs enjoy volunteering to provide care in a different way and meet members of the wider community. You can contribute anything from a couple of hours to a few weeks. You may want to use your clinical skill in healthcare volunteering roles. Alternatively, you can experience another aspect of life, such as tackling loneliness in the elderly population, working in a food bank, or practicing English with those in need. Having this wider understanding of the people in your community will feed back into the way you approach your work as a locum and may positively influence your perspective.
Take time to rest
Burnout is becoming increasingly prevalent amongst GPs, including locums. Rest is invaluable, so do not overload yourself with work. Returning to work well-rested can boost your performance and give you a more positive mindset. Even more important – rest keeps you healthy in body and mind.