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Due to the success of placing permanent veterinary staff all over the world, we are now being asked to supply locum work to practices.

“Locum” is a term used in both human and animal medicine for temporary staff who cover for a permanent employee during holiday leave, sick leave, maternity leave and so on, or step in when someone has resigned or been fired – often at short notice, because sick animals cannot wait.

Locum vets and vet nurses need to be qualified, confident, and able to work at short notice, and have a decent level of skill in their field. Getting some experience in a permanent position under your belt first is advisable. For vets, you will often be required to have 2 years of experience, and for nurses, you will probably need to be qualified and not a trainee.

It takes a lot of confidence to step into a new practice and join a new team every week or so. You will need to learn to get along with and understand your colleagues very quickly, while also mastering new computer systems and working out where to find everything.

On the upside, locum work is very flexible, and you will be compensated for the lack of permanent employee benefits with a higher rate of pay. As you gain experience, you will develop a portfolio of references, which will give employers more assurance that you’ve got what it takes.

Pros of working as a locum:

1. Something to keep you going in between jobs

Whether you are looking for work, easing back into work after having a family, or waiting for a permanent role to start, locum work is a great way to keep your hand in between permanent jobs.

2. Get paid to travel

If you want to see more of the country – or the world – locum work will allow you to travel to different places and get paid to do it. Some vacancies even offer accommodation for travelling locums.

3. It is not all week-long contracts

Locum contracts can vary from one week to one year. If you are looking for a longer temporary contract, perhaps with a chance of going “temp to perm”, locum work will offer you plenty of opportunities.

4. You can be a permanent temp

Many vets and vet nurses make locum work their way of life, whether for the travel and networking opportunities, the great pay, or the unlimited holidays.

5. You will learn a lot

Locum work exposes you to different techniques and practices, giving you a better idea of the type of practice you would like to work in and enabling you to learn techniques from many different people.

6. Exposure to greater opportunities

You never know who you will meet or what opportunities you will encounter as a locum. You might meet someone who can further your career, make lifelong friends, or even score yourself a permanent job.

7. Less stress

If you are feeling pressured at work and sick of coming in each morning to be bombarded with questions and problems, you’ll find locum work is much less stressful. The permanent employees will handle all of that – you just show up, do your job, and go home.

8. You will be appreciated

As a permanent employee, you can be taken for granted. As a locum, you will get praise and appreciation because people will be grateful to have you there.


Cons of working as a locum:

1. If you are not confident, it’s not for you

If you do not have the confidence to work unaided, you won’t succeed as a locum. The idea is to step in and fill the role with the minimum interruption to the normal running of the practice.

2. You are never really part of the team

As a locum, you will always be the new kid, and you may not get to know your teammates well before moving on. On the upside, you will meet a lot of interesting people, and you may be invited back to work with them again.

3. You won’t be the “family vet”

It may be hard to get to know your clients and patients – both of whom may prefer to see (or smell) a vet they know and trust.

4. You have to ask a lot of questions

Get used to asking where things are and how to use the computers, repeatedly, in every new practice you walk into. Don’t worry, though – your teammates will be grateful to have you there and happy to answer your questions.


Is a locum veterinary career for you?

If you are looking for locum work, or if you’re interested in finding out more about it, register with us and our team of specialist recruiters will be happy to answer all your questions and match you with the roles that are right for you.

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