Relief, or locum, work is defined as a medical professional who temporarily performs the duties of another, typically in clinical roles. Doctors and licensed veterinary technicians commonly sub in for other doctors or LVTs in a practice or position if the full-time employee is out on medical or maternity leave, takes a vacation or personal day off, or the practice demand can sustain an additional provider that day. These relief providers are typically paid an hourly rate or per diem (a daily shift rate) and no benefits are offered, for tax purposes they are often contracted employees (1099).
Whenever you are considering a professional change it can be helpful to hone in on why you are motivated to move. Is it to guarantee more personal control over your schedule? Work a little bit on the side to achieve some financial goals (student loans, anyone?) or fund a guilt-free vacation? Are you interested in trying out a new practice to see if the team and work environment is a good fit for a potential longer term commitment?
Relief work is not for everyone - it comes with the challenges of going into a new practice and working with a team you may not know well. It often means digging through random drawers trying to find syringes or pens and ending up with urinary catheters instead. All the novelty can be a source of stress for some people, so before you pick up the shifts it is good to make sure that type of work can be worthwhile to you. It also often means a higher rate of pay per shift (to make up for lack of benefits offered), autonomy over where and when you work, and less follow-up or routine tasks (like callbacks and prescription requests) than a full-time clinical doctor or technician and be a great opportunity to meet new people, help out a practice in their time of need, and earn some well-deserved compensation.
If you want more details on how to start your own relief business or shifts available in your area, check out Sound Vet Med.