How to manage home life while traveling

Physicians who travel regularly for locum tenens engagements have the process of leaving home and returning again down to a science. One important factor to handling home affairs while away is knowing that everything is in order—although the definition of "in order" may vary, depending on the physician. If you are single and live in an apartment, arranging for someone to collect your mail may be all you need to do before beginning your engagement. If, on the other hand, you are leaving a spouse, children, a hundred-year-old house, and several pets behind, a bit more planning may be required. Here are a few ideas that should help you leave for your next opportunity with relative ease.

An ounce of prevention.
If you leave your home unattended while away, make preventive maintenance a high priority. The last thing you need upon returning home from a long trip is to find that the air conditioner no longer cools the house or that the roof or a toilet has been leaking.

Hematologist/oncologist Philip Federio, MD, FACP, lives in the Southwest, and travels frequently for locum tenens opportunities. When he is not practicing medicine, he enjoys doing his own home maintenance and repair. "I learned by doing it . . . by going to Home Depot or Lowes and talking to people," says Dr. Federio. "Always have things checked out before you go." He adds that this advice applies not only to home maintenance, but to automobiles as well.

Taking care of business.
Dr. Federio recommends delegating personal finances, including bill paying and tending to taxes, to someone at home. He says physicians who do not have this luxury should consider hiring a professional to take care of their money matters. "If you try to do it yourself, you'll just lose things." Online banking and automated bill paying are good solutions for many physicians. If you are not technically inclined, consider engaging an accountant to keep track of personal financial issues in your absence.

Let technology work for you.
Physicians often choose locum tenens for the flexible lifestyle it offers. So while you may not become ultra-wealthy practicing locum tenens, depending on the demand in your specialty, you may actually earn more than you would in a permanent position. Since pay rates are determined by specialty—not according to the number of years in practice—a physician just out of training will likely earn the same as one who has been practicing for 20 years. Factor in that travel expenses, housing, and malpractice insurance are all covered, and locum tenens take-home pay starts looking pretty attractive.

Look ahead.
Physicians who travel with peace of mind (and without guilt) tend to plan ahead and avoid missing important events at home. Before confirming your locum tenens engagements, review your schedule and the family calendar to make sure that you do not inadvertently book opportunities during important events. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, piano recitals, school plays, and religious holidays are a few of the dates you might want to work around.

Make contingency plans.
Even if you have someone paying the bills, a reliable pet sitter on board, a neighbor who knows how to get in touch with you, and an alarm system on your house, well . . . interesting things can still happen. What if the pet sitter loses the key to your house? Or you find out that your credit card number has been stolen and all your files are in your desk in the den? Try to plan ahead for each eventuality, and then make backup arrangements in case those situations do arise.

When you are confident that everything is being well taken care of back home—from the practical details to the family and social aspects of life—you can focus your full attention on practicing high quality medicine and enjoying your locum tenens experience.

Now that you know how to manage your home life while traveling, contact a NALTO agency recruiter who can answer the rest of your questions.

Views and opinions expressed herein are those of NALTO and not necessarily those of Advanstar Communications Inc. or LocumLife.

About the Author

Karen Childress is a Colorado-based freelance healthcare writer currently crafting a series of articles on behalf of NALTO.

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