Locum Tenens, A Storm of Opportunity
Discovering her passion
The ICU has a rhythm: beeping monitors, pattering clogs on tile, and murmurs passing between physicians. As a medical student named Natalee conducted rounds alongside her chief resident, the steady atmosphere shifted without warning and introduced a renewed sense of urgency. One patient’s monitors alerted everyone to a drastic change. And now, the doctors might lose her.
Natalee watched her chief resident jump in. His orders were clear and his hands seemed to move of their own accord, making calculated assessments and adjustments to help the patient on the gurney. His movements confidently pushed against the atmosphere of panic until it ebbed, then disappeared entirely. The monitors regained their normal rhythm.
The chief resident stepped back with a small smile on his face, and Natalee released a breath. She just witnessed him save this woman’s life. In that moment, she knew with irrevocable certainty that one day, she would do the same.
As she reflects on falling in love with medicine, Dr. Natalee Stone says, “During residency, the surgical subspecialties were very natural. I’ve always been someone who enjoys working with my hands. I just remember thinking how incredible it is that we have the opportunity and the skills to pull someone back from death. Positively altering the path of someone’s life is a unique gift and surgery really affords that to me.” From the very beginning of her medical journey, Dr. Stone believed medicine was about one thing above all else: the patient.
When she took a permanent position, however, she encountered a lot of challenges due to changes in hospital medicine. “I got into medicine to help people, and eventually it felt like helping people became secondary to all the other stressors some of the administrators were applying,” she says. That’s when Dr. Stone turned to locum tenens.
No limits with locums
Until her residency, Dr. Stone hadn’t heard about the locums practice alternative. Then, she experienced some locum tenens physicians covering weekends or gaps. As she entered her fellowship, locums was always in the back of her mind. She chuckles, “At the time, my fiancé and I were looking at ways to pay for our wedding without going into debt! What started off as a temporary way to earn extra income developed into a reminder of what I’m here for and why I’m doing this.” Dr. Stone experienced relief from the pressure and stress that non-surgery and non-clinical responsibilities presented.
“There are some responsibilities that all medical professionals face, but the primary goal should be to take care of the patients,” she explains. “Locums allows me to focus on what’s important and what I love to do. Once I decided to practice locums full time, it was like a storm of opportunity.”
In addition to re-prioritizing medicine, Dr. Stone speaks to the many benefits of her schedule. “Locums lets me spend more time with my family and it also gives me the creativity to find different experiences in different locations,” she shares. Although she and her husband live in Florida, she strategically accepts assignments across the Northeast, visiting relatives they don’t get a chance to see often. As avid adventurers, they love exploring different parts of the U.S. and the rest of the world, experiencing diverse cultures and tasting delicious food along the way! (The Caribbean is a favorite of theirs.)
When asked about her favorite assignment, she pauses. “I really can’t say that there’s a favorite place,” she says. “My husband and I love the variety. I took an assignment in Arizona at one of the Indian Health Services and it was a completely different world than I’d ever experienced. Then, I took an assignment in an eclectic city in Pennsylvania. There were so many restaurants and cultural opportunities that were so refreshing. Each place offers something unique. Practicing locum tenens really allows me to uncover a new gift every time.”
In addition to geographic variety, Dr. Stone has been able to develop professionally and vary her practice environment. “Some places, I’m an independent practitioner, others I’m part of a group practice,” she explains. “The contrast is nice; it never gets boring or feels repetitive and I really enjoy that spectrum. I get to double scrub with other surgeons and we can learn from each other. Each experience really delivers a new set of skills. I’ve had the opportunity to work with so many EMRs that I have absolutely no trepidation going to a place with a different system.”
More than recruiters
Although she has worked with other locum tenens staffing companies, Dr. Stone says, “It’s a very personal relationship with Medicus. I’m organized and detail oriented, and Olivia is the same. Our personalities match well because she keeps me in the loop with everything. If anything arises at a site or if I have a concern, I know I can text or call at any time of day or night and someone will walk me through my situation or find me the proper resource. That open communication is so important.”
Dr. Stone smiles, “I’ve had a great experience with Jennifer, Olivia, and the entire team. Medicus has really become a partner in pursuing my goals and my dreams.”
If you’re interested in exploring locum tenens opportunities, call Medicus Healthcare Solutions at 855.301.0563 to discuss your goals with an experienced recruiter.