Internist Akua Ampadu, MD, took her first locum tenens job in January 2017. Typically, she prefers to accept assignments in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, so she can remain somewhat close to home. What does she most enjoy about practicing as an independent contractor?
“The freedom of scheduling because I can establish when and where I work,” she says. “Also, I like having the ability to experience different hospital systems. In the past few months, I have discovered other techniques for arriving at the same result and different ways to practice hospital medicine in other parts of the United States.”
Dr. Ampadu credits locum tenens practice with making her a better physician.
“It has opened my mind to exploring other ways medical conditions, diagnoses, and treatments can be managed,” she states.
An unforgettable assignment
One of Dr. Ampadu’s most memorable locum tenens experiences involves a woman who was found on the floor of her home and rushed to the hospital.
“Her sister had not heard from her in a couple of days, so she called the police to check on her,” recalls Dr. Ampadu. “When the officers arrived at the home, they were shocked by the patient’s living situation. A hoarder, she had been living in a home that was unsafe, and she was actually pretty sick. The patient’s sister had tried to get her help for years, but the woman had always refused it.”
Dr. Ampadu says the patient remained at the Pennsylvania facility for a week or so. She then went into rehab but was unable to return to her house as it had been deemed uninhabitable.
“From rehab, the patient entered a long-term care facility,” she remembers. “Her family was relieved and happy to see her receiving the assistance she had long needed. It was rewarding to know we not only treated her medical condition, but also helped her to have a better life by addressing her social issues.”
In addition to giving Dr. Ampadu more control over her schedule, locum tenens practice enables her to dedicate time to the non-governmental organization she founded. On average, she tries to allocate at least two or three hours a day to Healing Words Foundation.
“In 2011, I did a medical externship in Ghana, West Africa, through my medical school,” she relates. “The experience would become a defining moment in my life and the start of something extraordinary.
“I worked in the pediatric ward for about six weeks at the main teaching hospital in Accra, Ghana,” Dr. Ampadu continues. “I saw patients with conditions endemic to the country, like malaria, sickle cell disease, and Burkitt’s Lymphoma. Often, when children were placed in the ward, they just sat in their cribs or beds alone for hours. The only interaction they had was when we would do rounds or they’d see the nurses. Sometimes, they might have a television to watch, but that was it.”
Dr. Ampadu began to think about the kind of impact she could make there.
“There were no books to read or coloring books and crayons to engage the children,” she adds. “They were being treated medically, but their emotional and educational needs were not being met. I wanted to provide that engagement aspect, so I started Healing Words Foundation.”
Supporting a vision
Dr. Ampadu’s organization seeks donations of literacy items for patients between the ages of five and 22, including fiction and nonfiction books, encyclopedias, reference and text books, crossword puzzles, coloring books with crayons, and kids’ educational videos and games. The vision of Healing Words Foundation is “to foster a love for reading, engage curious minds, and create a literacy safe haven for children in pediatric wards and clinics.” By practicing locum tenens, Dr. Ampadu can better support it.
“My last perm job was unconventional in the sense that we did not do 7 days on/7 days off shifts,” she explains. “There were times where I worked 10 to 12 days straight. On my days off, I was just trying to recover and take care of tasks I was unable to get to the week before, like laundry and shopping for groceries. I couldn’t really allow time for anything personal. Now that I do locum work full time, whenever I choose, I can easily take a little more than a week off to de-stress and focus on my charity.”
For more information on Healing Words Foundation and the amazing work they do, visit the organization’s website. (Book donations can be made through the foundation’s Amazon wish list as well.) Also, learn about Dr. Ampadu’s recent visit to FOCOS Orthopaedic Hospital in Ghana, and check out her Medium post about finding a work-life balance through locum tenens practice.
Call Medicus Healthcare Solutions at 855-301-0563 to explore locum tenens opportunities with an experienced recruiter, and check out our blog for tips, the latest news and trends, and other helpful information.