It might seem like pet ownership is incompatible with locum tenens practice, but it’s actually not. Though pet ownership is not the norm among locums, there are those who would never travel without their pets. They have found a way to make it work without pet ownership impacting their chosen method of practicing medicine.
Pet ownership does make practicing as a locum more difficult. After all, there are certain responsibilities that come with owning a pet. But if you are a true animal lover, those extra responsibilities are nothing compared to the joy that comes with having your pet with you as you travel.
In light of all of this, here are 5 tips for locums who choose to travel with their pets:
1. Choose Staffing Agencies Wisely
Every staffing agency has its strong and weak points. Pet owners want to be sure that their agencies are strong in the area of pets. In other words, look for pet-friendly agencies that work with their doctors to secure the right kinds of accommodations and travel arrangements.
Sometimes it is even possible to request to work with a recruiter with personal experience as a pet owner. No one knows what a pet owner goes through like a fellow pet owner. So having access to at least one recruiter with personal pet experience is a big plus.
2. Be Prepared for Extra Charges
While staffing agencies are usually more than happy to pick up the cost of housing for a locum doctor, they rarely cover the extra charges incurred by pet ownership. Doctors with pets need to be prepared to pay those extra charges out-of-pocket. Charges might include everything from a special security deposit to an extra fee added to the monthly rent.
3. Plan Your Travel Well
Issues with pets can arise long before the doctor reaches his or her new destination. If you have ever traveled a great distance with your pet, you know exactly what we’re talking about. As such, the smart locum plans his/her travel well; he/she puts everything in place before the start of the next trip.
Do you normally travel by air? If so, get to know your preferred airline’s pet policies. Plan to adhere to those policies as well. Trying to get around them will only antagonize your airline.
If you are the kind of person who prefers driving, plan your route so that you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop along the way. Your pet will need to get out of the car every now and again.
4. Get Your Pet an Electronic ID
An escaped pet is hard enough to find when you’re at home in comfortable surroundings. Things become a lot more difficult when a pet escapes while on assignment. Unfamiliar surroundings and a lack of local support could mean never seeing the animal again. Do not take that chance. Get your pet an electronic ID that can be tracked with a smartphone.
Local animal shelters and other organizations offer free pet microchips from time to time. That’s a good place to start. If you cannot find something free, check with your vet. He/she will either offer electronic ID services or be able to point you to an organization that does.
Traveling with a pet can be challenging for locum physicians. But it is certainly not impossible. If you couldn’t imagine traveling without your pet companion, don’t let your worries or fears dissuade you from pursuing work as a locum. Lots of locums enjoy traveling with their pets. It just takes a bit of forethought and a willingness to be flexible.