As organizations around the country struggle with staffing shortages, some providers have to turned to recruiting recently retired doctors and nurses who may be interested in jumping back into the fray. The strategy offers two unique benefits: health systems can fill in workforce gaps, while younger clinicians get the opportunity to learn from their peers’ decades of experience.
Dr. Marye McCroskey was one such clinician. In 2015, she wasn’t ready to retire fully at age 55, but she was burnt out after nearly three decades of private practice and wanted to do something different. She connected with a recruiter who found her a locum tenens position in Hawaii. There, she was able to work off and on for around 32 hours a week, sometimes signing up to work for three months and taking the next month off.
Now employed part-time as a primary care and urgent care physician with Keys Medical Group in Florida, McCroskey said her experience with working at a lower capacity has been positive. The annual pay is slightly less than a typical physician salary, though the position covers her car and housing expenses.
“If I ever reach a point where I’m not enjoying it anymore, or not enjoying the medicine part of it, that would be when I would decide to retire,” she said.
Clinicians interested in working locum tenens should make sure to work with a recruiting company that can advocate for them if something is not going well, McCroskey said. They should also plan out their finances so eventually they can successfully transition into retirement.
For McCroskey, the plan is to continue accepting locum tenens jobs for the next few years, taking occasional months off.
“What I’m really trying to guard against is getting burnt out again,” she said. “I tend to put my heart and soul into what I do, and if I’m someplace too long, it begins to take its toll. This allows me to still enjoy practicing medicine and to meet new people. The staff always seem to be happy to have an extra set of hands.”