Life as a Locum Dentist

The Locum Dentist Life – Benefits of being a locum

Have you ever considered a career in locum dentistry, but remain unsure as to whether the venture will benefit you? If so, you just need to ask yourself one simple question: Would people take the plunge and wave goodbye to the safety of a permanent contract unless it was really worth it? The answer is, of course – no, they wouldn’t.

For those that are brave enough to give it a go however, the rewards are plentiful.

Good day rate: The reality is that the profession is crying out for locums, and as such, practices are willing to pay what is necessary to make the job attractive to potential candidates. In some roles, the flat day rate can be as much as £400 – not including expenses.

Hotel and travel allowance: To make it worth your while, most practices will contribute to your accommodation and travel expenses for the duration of your contract. This is a great incentive, especially if you love to explore and meet new people.

Flexibility and freedom: Working as a locum offers a level of flexibility that you just can’t get with other types of contract. You choose where you work, when you work and, to a certain extent, how you work. Being a locum also provides a great deal of freedom when it comes to training, meaning you get to assemble your own bespoke CPD schedule.

Variety: Just think of the range of jobs and dental settings that would be available to you – such a great opportunity if you want to broaden your horizons.

If you commit yourself, the benefits of locum dentistry are limitless – so what are you waiting for?

Is locum dentistry for me?

Naturally, locum dentistry isn’t for everybody, and you should decide whether you are the right person for the job sooner rather than later.

So ask yourself, are you willing to be away from home for long periods of time? Are you prepared to be out of work for parts of the year? Can you be frugal during times when work is quiet? If you have any doubts in your mind at all about whether you can do any of these things, then it may well be that locum work isn’t for you. This also goes for those that have family responsibilities or are the sole breadwinner in their household.

Locum dentistry, then, is ideal for those with less family ties and financial burdens, though of course it can also be a suitable pathway for a parent wanting to work around their children and school holidays. It would also suit someone looking to reduce their hours to spend time on other commitments, such as studying or travelling.

Ultimately, if you want to be a locum, you have to be flexible; you have to be able to deal with spending time away from home; and you have to be willing to be out of your comfort zone on a regular basis.

The reality of being a locum

Like everything else worth having, being a locum can be hard, so if you want to make the career change there are a few things you should know.

  • You have to be prepared to spend time away from home and not have all your homely comforts around you.
  • Vacancies in Scotland and London attract a lot of attention, so you may need to look in other areas.
  • You won’t like every role that you take on; sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.
  • You won’t always be in work.
  • On occasion you may have to take what is available rather than what is most preferable to you.
  • Some contracts don’t work out but if you persevere, locum dentistry can be rewarding.

The harsh reality is that being a locum isn’t always perfect. If you can accept that, you are already half way there.

Our tips for getting the job you want – use a locum dentist agency

  • Utilise the services of a specialist locum dentist recruitment agency like us to help you find suitable roles, guide you through the recruitment process and raise your profile within the market.
  • Quite often, an employer won’t provide a locum with a written contract, so it is always advisable to write to either your agent or to the practice directly to get confirmation of the finer points of the agreement.
  • Be adaptable in the way that you can work, and quickly – it is likely that some jobs will throw you in the deep end.
  • Be flexible, but do what is best for you.
  • Be open minded to the locations that you visit, as limiting your options could be harmful to the amount of work you pick up.
  • Where possible, negotiate a one-week notice period.
  • On the first day of your contract before your first patient, request some time to run through the practice’s emergency procedures, get used to the computer system, explore the layout of the surgery and generally find your feet. This will help save you time and energy later on down the line as well as minimise pressure and stress.
  • Not all employers offer a flat day rate, so if you are contracted per UDA and are required to pay 50 per cent of your lab bill, be aware that you may not get paid straightaway.
  • If using an agent, it can pay to make contact with the practice before starting your contract as it allows you to get to know the staff and them to know you.

ARTICLE – Sergio Patronilo is a locum dentist – My Life as a Locum