My name is Christina and I have been performing locum veterinarian work intermittently since 2006 and full-time for the past few years. I have my own LLC business and love the freedom and flexibility over my schedule relief work gives me. If I want to take a vacation, I take it, no matter how long I want it to be!
Don’t book yourself more than 1-2 months out - that way if something comes up in your personal time that you want to do you are not already committed to working
Try and choose practices that are good at leveraging their staff and are organized and efficient with their record-keeping. It makes the days run more smoothly and helps you leave on time!
Relief work full-time means I pay for my own benefits with my small business - that means I have to charge my clinics a higher rate for ALL the time I am actually working for them (including overtime if running over shift is a chronic problem).
I generally make my own schedule based on my energy and upcoming travel. If I am taking 2-3 weeks off to go backpacking around Petra (which I am doing in the spring!), I might have to work some more days in the weeks before or after to ensure I am making the same monthly income year-round. I generally work 3-4 days per week from 9 am to 5 pm with an hour designated for lunch.
What do you do for fun in your spare time?
I have gotten active in my local chapter of the Mountaineers and so I spend lots of time adventuring outside - skiing, hiking and backpacking are most common. I have an upcoming trip backpacking around Petra I am looking forward to, and every weekend during the summer I go backpacking and hiking. This past summer, I participated in a citizen science project to help monitor the marmot population in Olympic National Park with the National Park Service.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in starting out on this path?
Relief work is not for everyone - it requires a certain amount of flexibility and adaptability. You need to be prepared to negotiate your boundaries and your own schedule (using a platform like Sound Vet Med can do some of that work for you). I find it safer to work in relief because then you are not committed to one business for your financial future - this way you are more diversified but it does inherently have more mobility and travel required. You might not have your favorite ear medication or flea prevention at every practice - you have to kind of roll with what people do there while you’re there. You also don’t get as much follow-up as you do for most types of clinical practice - I still miss my old crazy cat and Chihuahua ladies from when I worked full-time at one place - but I love the autonomy over my life and time it gives me.