What to Do When Your Locums Assignment is Cancelled.


Uncertainty is the nature of the locums business. Organizations use locums to fill their staffing needs. Because the staffing needs of an organization may change instantly, organizations that used your services as a locums physician in the past may longer need your services in the future. And they can and will cancel your assignment….and oftentimes without giving you notice. Developing a plan to deal with this is vital.

  1. Get Used to It. Uncertainty is a characteristic of doing locums. Most physicians do locums because they like the freedom and flexibility it provides. You can control your own schedule. You can work when and where you want. Likewise, organizations use locums to fill their short-term staffing needs. They can hire who they want and then let them go without the cumbersome process of having to go through the firing process. All they must do is to cancel your assignment and they are “done” with you. Period. What you as a physician gain in terms of flexibility, you give up in terms of stability. If you choose to do locums, this is a risk you take.


  1. Get Over It. Whenever an assignment is cancelled unexpectedly, you are going to be upset and maybe angry. Not only is this lost income, it is lost time. Because it can take up to three months to get an assignment, the unexpected loss of an assignment can be upsetting. Give yourself time to grieve this loss. Give yourself time to reflect on what happened and what you could have done differently. Talk about this to a trusted colleague, friend, or family member. Then, get over it and get over it quickly. In the world of locums, time is money. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Therefore, refocus the time and energy you a putting into being upset over that lost assignment into finding your next assignment.


  1. Get Moving! Activate your locums plan and revisit your locums strategy. Everyone needs to have these. What are your other locums assignments, and can you pick up some last minute shifts there? What upcoming new locums assignments do you have? Where are you in that process and what can be done to expedite that process? Who are your “go-to” locums recruiters who you can call and get some last minute work? Activate your locums network and reach out to other locums physicians to see if they know of any assignments that you may be interesting.


For more information on doing locums, download your free copy of my locums e-book: Locums Tenens: Your Questions Answered.

Also join my Locums Facebook group: Creating Careers in Medicine.

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