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Letter to the Editor: Locum Tenens Helps Avoid Burnout in Hospital Medicine


At the end of residency, like many of us, I was offered an impressive number of jobs as both a hospitalist and an outpatient internist. I observed my colleagues signing contracts and going through the credentialing process and thought to myself that finding a job that would dictate what hours I worked was the last thing I wanted to do.

So I quit medicine.

I ended up working with a few NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) at the time, becoming the healthcare director of a medium-sized NGO. I learned the enormous amount of red tape that was scattered in that world, and I began missing medicine.

So I unquit medicine.

I decided that the best thing for me was to be my own boss. I didn’t know how to do this. As someone with absolutely no business background, I started reading about different types of work I could do where I was in charge of dictating my hours. Opening up a clinic or starting my own hospitalist group felt like being shackled down in the system again. I talked to my colleagues from residency, and they all seemed underwhelmed with the love of their jobs and overwhelmed by the number of hours that they were working. They still sounded like residents.

After getting a taste of a world outside of medicine, I realized that I had so many hobbies and interests outside of practicing as a hospitalist. I found a love of surfing, I wanted to volunteer and do medical relief work abroad, I wanted to travel the world, and I wanted to study herbal medicine and integrative holistic medicine in great depth—all while being able to keep one foot in the medical system.

That is when I found locum tenens hospitalist-based medicine. Suddenly, I could make my own schedule, decide where and when I would work, and have the flexibility to leave any given hospital if I felt as though I was being pushed into practices that would compromise patient care and safety.

It’s been four years since I began practicing locum tenens hospitalist medicine, and I have never looked back. I have been able to take up surfing more seriously; I’ve traveled around the world and continue to do so—I have been able to travel to Haiti for volunteer work and am traveling to Nepal shortly for medical relief work—and I have been able to dive deeply into integrative holistic medicine. I get to pick and choose how often I work and, most importantly, when I do work, it is an absolute joy. I can happily say I am able to give my patients the care that they deserve without feeling burnt out.

I am a big fan of the way I have decided to practice the art of medicine and can honestly say that I am enjoying my journey.

Geeta Arora, MD, board certified in internal medicine and integrative holistic medicine

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