Benefits of a Veterinary Locum over a Permanent Position
There are several benefits of a veterinary locum that make it a more attractive than a permanent position to many veterinary surgeons. There are some very good vets that have been offered a permanent position after serving some time in a veterinary surgeon on locum work, but who have refused because permanent work is not to their liking.

This need not necessarily be because they do not want to work full time, because most locum postings involve full time work but simply on a temporary basis. Nor is it necessarily because they have some sort of dislike for the practice offering the position - on the contrary, many veterinary surgeons have enjoyed their time with specific surgeries, but simply preferred not to be tied to a permanent post.

Why is this? Why is it that many competent vets who have displayed competence in their temporary position prefer not to move to a practice on a permanent basis? Here are a few reasons, some of which you may be able to identify with and perhaps help you to make a decision as to the type of work you want to settle down to - work as a locum on a permanent basis or eventually settle in a full time position.

A Need for Variety

A major reason is variety. Some people like to have a great deal of variety in their work, and feel that a permanent position with a single practice would tie them down to either small animals and pets or rural farm animal work. Or it may be a predominantly equine practice, dealing frequently with horses.

While this can be the case to an extent, it need not be so although it is difficult to find a veterinary practice handling a wide range of animal types. Most city surgeries, for example, will be focused on pets, predominantly cats and dogs, and it is true that rural surgeries will by and large be treating sheep, cattle and horses. However, there are also surgeries that can meet the need for a variety of work and some locums carry out temporary work until they find a surgery that suits their needs.

A Desire for Travel

Many veterinary locums like locum work because it gives them the opportunity to travel round the country. They can spend a fortnight working in a surgery in London, standing in for a partner on vacation, and then a month in a country practice. A few weeks later they might be working in the highlands of Scotland followed by a few weeks in the valley of South Wales.

This type of work is suited to unmarried veterinary surgeons that are able to travel around without having any particular base. If they are fortunate enough their accommodation may be provided for them, and if they are happy living out of a suitcase there is no need for a permanent position.

To Gather Experience

In some cases, young vets like to travel between surgeries for the experience. They feel that by working temporarily in a number of different surgeries they will not only gain experience in treating a number of different animals, but also different procedures and ways of dealing with specific complaints and injuries.

While each of the above reasons carrying out locum work on a permanent basis are good ones, what you must keep in mind is your own professional advancement. The RCVS will expect new graduates to develop their skills under the PDP system (Professional Development Phase), and your personal development should not be allowed to suffer by moving from practice to practice.

Therefore, while working as a locum might offer a number benefits if you have no need to tie yourself to any particular locality, you should work in a practice for at least the first 2 or 3 years after graduation. Most surgeries will be reluctant to take you on as a locum in any case, until you have demonstrated your ability to work in a veterinary practice and have suitable experience in the type of work you would be expected to carry out.

Therefore, although the freedom of movement that locum work offers may seem attractive you, it might not be possible until you have gained a few years experience and completed your PDP. While it is true that this need be done in just one practice, in fact you will generally find that locum work is closed to you during your first year in any case.

Nevertheless, veterinary locum work is attractive to many people, and once they are able and have the necessary experience, they may decide that they prefer the variety of work, the freedom to travel and the experience gained during veterinary locum work is preferable to them than a permanent position - at least until their roots are settled.

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