Locum work is an amazing way to see New Zealand and experience different practices and teams. Dr Bruce Newton has recently been locuming with Lumino in our Practice Network, and we spoke with him about his experience:
Could you give us a high-level synopsis of your Dental Career?
After graduating in 1977 from Otago I was a house surgeon at Auckland Hospital for a year, then I moved to Australia and worked a following year and then onto the UK for another year before heading back down to New Zealand where I settled into my own private practice in Dunedin which I ran for 37 years. I decided I would like to go part-time and see a bit more of our beautiful country so I sold my practice and decided that Locuming would tick both boxes of wanting the flexibility of part-time and also being about to travel around a bit. My partner and I bought a caravan and took the dog with us and 3 years on we are still absolutely loving it. It has provided us with the freedom and lifestyle we were looking for.
You recently began doing some locum work with us here at Lumino. What parts of NZ have you been working in so far?
Invercargill, Gore, Blenheim, Taupo, Matakana, Warkworth, Dargaville, Kerikeri to name a few! My Locum stints have been around 1-2 months in length, slightly longer in Blenheim and Invercargill. I love living out of my comfortable caravan, but occasionally have been provided accommodation in the colder locations I have visited.
As an experienced Clinician, what does locuming offer you?
After having my own practice for so long I had the same patients for years, even decades. Locuming has given me an opportunity to meet a whole new set of patients, which is nice meeting new people. Not only patients but also the staff. I really love locuming in the regions as you feel instantly connected in the smaller communities. Being in the smaller towns means I'm often walking to work and getting more involved in the community. It's a nice relaxed lifestyle. I've also been able to see so much of NZ on my travels which has been a bonus. Locuming has afforded me a lot of freedom, I have been offered many places to visit but only chose the places I want to visit or feel I can add value. I've actually been most impressed with the regularity of work, I have even had to turn down work at times, so it would be easy to work full time if I wanted to.
What is something unique about being a locum clinician, that others may not realise?
It's important to be quite flexible and be able to fit in to new work environments with new materials and setups. You also have to be quick at building relationships to establish rapport with staff and patients in a short space of time, putting them at ease. If you're not a people person there is a bit of damage you can do to a practice, even if you are only there for a month or two, so it's important you have this skillset for the benefit of the practice. But I do like how much you are appreciated in the more regional practices because you are so needed. At times you are asked to do new things that you may not be used to doing, so it's good to have good level of experience and competence in all areas of dentistry. This really helps to ease the pressure from the local Dentists. I also really like locuming for Lumino as you have the availability of online resources, logging into webinars etc.
What has been your best locum experience to date, and what made it stand out?
Kerikeri was great, never worked in such a large practice before with great facilities and the people were wonderful. Also, Invercargill was great - it was on the other side of the spectrum size-wise but had lots of heart. I really love the smaller towns as your patients and staff help you gain local knowledge. Dargaville was also a highlight, I got to know the locals really well and it was a great experience. I'm not sure why more Dentists aren't going out to these rural practices as it's a great vibe with some good earning potential. Doing Locums has allowed me to meet lots of new people and have made a lot of new friends up and down the country.
If you were to offer advice to someone considering becoming a locum (either short term, or as a longer term option) what wisdom would you share?
Be prepared to use your experience, make sure you are competent with Oral Surgery, you will need to do some extractions. It's important to be flexible and outgoing. If you are a little scared at the variety of practices you might encounter remember Lumino has standardised procedures, systems and paperwork which makes it easy to slot into a practice. If it's lifestyle, freedom, variety or earning potential, there's a lot that Locuming can provide, for short term or longer-term like us. I highly recommend giving it a try.