As a locum tenens physician, you are able to travel to some of the most beautiful destinations across the country. Heading to assignments can often feel like vacations for locum tenens. But what happens when your “work vacations” turn into only heading from one assignment to the next? Just like any profession, it can be extremely easy to lose sight of important downtime. One day you may feel ready for a break and the next day you’re too busy.
As a doctor, you monitor and report on your patients’ health. You tell them when something is wrong and how to adjust accordingly. So when it comes to your own health, why not do the same? Below we’ve listed some tips for vacations for locum tenens.
Vacations for Locum Tenens
According to a 2016 study completed by Project Time-Off, only 45 percent of working Americans used their vacation days resulting in 658 million wasted days. Some of the most common reasons cited for this lack of interest in taking time off included: returning to a pile of work, not having a qualified replacement, or not being able to afford taking time off. Other reasons included not be supported by a boss to take the time off. Making sure work is completed before you leave or finding someone to do your job while you’re gone can be incredibly stressful days leading up to your departure.
Guilt is another reason many professionals, especially physicians, refuse to take time off. With a busy schedule and several patients, the idea of leaving them may hinder a decision to take a break from work. But everyone needs a break sometimes. Even travel physicians. Vacations for locum tenens are few and far between which makes it even more important for them to take vacations.
Benefits of Taking Vacation
There’s no surprise that taking a vacation leads to great benefits. Taking time off has been linked to employee satisfaction and many other health related benefits. When employees take time off, they receive a break from the company. This break improves productivity, workplace morale, and increases productivity. Managers who offer and support taking time off also see a greater amount of employee retention. There’s also the importance of stopping physician burnout. Working too hard, too long will eventually take its toll on your body and mind.
A reduced amount of stress, depression, anxiety, and heart disease are also linked to taking time off. Getting outside and keeping the mind off work lets you cut loose and unwind. Vitamin D is a free resource and being outside in the sun is the best kind of medicine. It strengthens the bones and nervous system and gives you a nice tan! Moving around outside helps improve stamina and lets you engage in play. Playing as an adult may sound strange, but it actually helps improve happiness and sleep. Vacation can also bring you and your spouse closer together. Taking time away from both of your jobs brings you closer together to spend time alone. Not mentioning or venting about work can improve communication skills in other areas like hobbies and culture.
How to Take a Vacation with a Physician’s Schedule
With all these wonderful benefits, you may be wondering, “Yea.. but I’m busy. How do I plan and do this?” But, it’s possible to take a fulfilling vacation even as a traveling physician. Here are some tips to make sure you use your vacation days:
Plan Well Ahead
If you are someone who utilizes calendars and planners often, mark your time off well in advance. Trying to squeeze in time off here and there will only stress you out. Don’t schedule trips around appointments. Instead, plan a vacation a few months early and schedule patient visits around that time. If you don’t you will be overwhelmed during your vacation and thinking about your patients.
When booking your vacation, pay for it up front. This helps hold you accountable and will make you less likely to cancel due to expensive fees. Give your spouse or whoever is vacationing with you all important papers and information about the trip and have them remind you of it often.
There are plenty of ways to stay excited about a vacation to keep you ready to go. Check out some different countdown phone applications to remind you how long until your trip. Keeping this as a background screen or setting an alert will keep you excited about taking off.
Talk to Your Agency
Locum Tenens agencies employ so many physicians. Talk to your agency about taking time off or scheduling more time between assignments. Someone will be able to take your place and keep up with your workload. And if your agency hired someone as awesome as you to treat patients, your follow up replacement is sure to fit the bill! So take your time off, and enjoy the sun.