Witnessing the birth of a baby never grows old for certified nurse midwife, Karen Watt. In 1980, Karen became a registered nurse and transitioned to midwifery nearly 25 years ago. Karen learned about Cross Country Locums, formerly Medical Doctor Associates (MDA), from a midwife friend in 2016 and has been working on locum tenens assignments with us ever since. We asked Karen what motivates her and what she finds rewarding about working with Cross Country Locums, and here’s what she had to share:
What led you to consider locums as a career option?
Labor and delivery had closed at the facility where I was a midwife. Since there was no longer a possibility for midwifery there, I decided to look into locum tenens rather than to seek another permanent situation.
What advantages have you found in working locums?
First, I can set my own hours and schedule. Also, I am the one who is in charge of my career rather than someone else delegating that to me. For instance, my recruiter, Gina Ross, will call and say, “Okay. I’ve got this option. Are you interested?” I can then decide whether I want to take the assignment based on how it fits into my lifestyle.
I also enjoy as much time off as I need. With a salaried position, I would only have three weeks of vacation for year. With locum tenens, I could take months off if I wanted to. There’s also the paid housing, the flexibility in determining my own general life choices, and the opportunity to see different parts of the country. I’ve been back and forth to Pennsylvania, and I’m considering an assignment with Indian Health Services in the Ozarks next.
What advice would you share with a friend or peer about taking locums assignments?
I would say, it may take a while before you receive an assignment, and you should be patient. For instance, the credentialing process was extensive for Pennsylvania. The Board of Medicine wanted documentation from every single state that I had worked in as an RN and as a CNM. Considering I had earned my nursing degree in 1980, that was a lot of documentation. But it turned out well because my recruiter, Gina, facilitated the process, and the facility was patient because they really wanted a nurse midwife.
I would also say it is important to remember that when I am a locum, my job here is to help the practice in any way that I can – not to criticize how things are done and not to say, “Why aren’t you doing it this way?” I am going to this location to be of service to the hospital and not to impose my own views. I must bring a can-do attitude. If you’re not willing to be flexible or to live in a variety of different circumstances, this is not for you. Finally, I would say to remember that it is very gratifying work!
What do you feel is the biggest misconception about working as a locums provider?
The biggest misconception is that it is all fun and games, that you are free to write your own ticket. Actually, you have to work within the constraints of the organization that is bringing you on board to be of assistance to them. It’s not just an adventure, so remember to be flexible.
What is your most fulfilling locums memory to date?
Oh! Hearing my patients say, “Gee, I wish you were here permanently!” or “Oh, I’m glad you’re still here.” Also, when I have a good birth, and families are happy I am the one who was there. When they say, “I was hoping you would be there to help me have my baby.” Also, a physician telling me that I am a diamond in a field of rhinestones.
What makes a locums assignment appealing to you?
I love having the opportunity to work with a variety of women of various ages, needs, cultures. I love diversity. I also enjoy being part of someone’s life in such an affirming way. I love doing births and supporting women through a life experience that is both terrifying and terrific.
How has working locums changed your perception of healthcare?
It underscores the fact that, overall, providers do not have as much say in giving care as we used to. We make recommendations, prescribe treatment, try to do what is right by the patient, and then find that certain things are not possible.
Also, when I was permanent, I knew how to find resources. In other situations, I could call on a hospital social worker. However, in moving from situation to situation, I may not have time to locate the person who can find what is needed, like a crib, transportation, counseling, or dental care. I do try to hit the ground running and find out what the resources are in the new community, but it can be a challenge. Health insurance and provider resources can also be barriers.
Also, with hospital births with a midwife, a doctor must be on call in case of emergency C-section. Every once in a while, I have to invite a doc to the birthday party! Although having a midwife who can deliver on staff is a wise business decision for a hospital, they may not choose to offer delivery with a midwife from an economic standpoint.
Anything else to add?
Yes. Certified nurse midwives not only deliver babies, we also care for women from menarche through menopause. We are able to take more time with patients, to focus on emotional aspects, and to consider their life situations. We can provide specific, individualized care.
Also, I have always provided healthcare for female patients. I love providing care for women. However, there’s nothing quite like seeing a dad cry at the birth of his baby. I just love to involve the partner in the experience of birth. I will never tire of the miracle of childbirth.
Many thanks to Karen for sharing her experience. Interested in discovering how a locums assignment can fit into your lifestyle? Learn more about locums opportunities for certified nurse midwives, we may have the perfect opportunity open right now. Don’t worry – if you don’t see the right opportunity today – sign up for our job alerts and we will keep you posted when new openings become available.