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How to get the best rate as a junior doctor locum

Rate as a junior doctor locum

I was speaking with a junior doctor a few weeks ago, and he mentioned that he would never consider locuming. Of course, I was curious as to why this was the case.

He said that he had heard that the rates aren’t so good, and he can make more money on overtime. I was surprised to hear this, but perhaps there is a perception that the days of great locum rates are over.

While this may possibly be the case in some locations, by and large there is still very good money going for locums at the RMO/HMO level, right up to senior registrars, across a variety of specialties and settings. Some believe the rates are nearly at an all time high.

The most abundant and rewarding work for junior doctors is in emergency departments. There are positions in very busy, large hospitals, tiny remote facilities, and everything in between.

Aside from ED, some of the other areas that have fantastic rates for locum work are:

  • General Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Orthopaedics
  • Psychiatry

The rates in these positions can vary from $80 per hour in a large metro facility to over $200 per hour in regional facilities (some only an hour away from a capital city!).

In addition to the hourly rate, you’ll often be offered travel, accommodation and in some cases a meal after hours.

There are a number of factors that influence the rate. Some of these are within your control, and others are not. These include:

  • Supply and demand (more supply = lower rate)
  • Location
  • Timeframe (tight timeframe before shift = higher rate)
  • Government Policy
  • Your negotiation ability
  • Expansion of medical facilities
  • The ‘Part-Timeisation’ of the workforce

So, picking the right job in the right place, at the right time is key.

In terms of location, some states need JMO locums more than others. Here is a ranking of states with reference to their locum requirements from most to least:

  1. New South Wales
  2. Queensland
  3. Western Australia
  4. Northern Territory
  5. South Australia
  6. Australian Capital Territory
  7. Tasmania
  8. Victoria

Of course, the sands shift very quickly, so it pays to work with a recruitment professional when you’re looking for locum work.

A locum agency experienced with junior doctor jobs will be able to give you a good idea of what your earning capacity as a locum is, and what the current options for you are. The team at Beat Medical have significant experience in matching JMOs with amazing locum positions, with extraordinary rates across Australia.

It’s important that you’re as competitive as possible for your next locum position, and having a schmick CV is key to making that happen. Having an awesome CV can be the difference between getting an escalated rate and a mediocre one.


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