NEW ARTICLE ALERT! The August 2010 issue of Locum Life magazine is out in both print and electronic forms, and I’m privileged to have written the cover story: “A Little Locum Music: Physicians Who Know How to Use Their Instruments“:
Are you the owner of a slightly rusty set of pipes that hasn’t been raised in song since medical school? Does hearing classical music on your office stereo remind you of a favorite Mozart or Beethoven piece you used to strike up on the piano? Has that battered guitar case in your basement been urging you to get the band back together?
It’s never too late for a comeback. Full waiting rooms, burgeoning paperwork, and ever-expanding hospital shifts can be detrimental to a doctor’s free time, but the flexible nature of locum tenens practice can change your tune. And the benefits can be more than artistic. Playing an instrument can help you make new friends around your contract location, awaken your creative energies, or even form the basis of a well-rounded retirement. Learn how three physicians have harmonized their musical talents with locum tenens careers.
This story was a lot of fun to write. I was able to speak with:
- A family practitioner who travels all across Alaska with her violin and viola, and who manages to find groups and symphonies to play with at her assignment locations;
- An OB/GYN working at an Indian Health Service hospital who composes original piano works while on the road; and
- The director of the Los Angeles Doctors Symphony Orchestra, a surgeon who has played oboe for years and manages to balance small-town locums work with leadership of an all-medical-professional orchestra.
Musical passions and medical proficiency struck me as a natural pairing when I was assigned the article, and their testimony—the clear love for music I could hear in their voices—bore this out. Plus it boosts the mind as you near retirement:
Locum tenens work has been a strategic part of Dr. Shulman’s shift into retirement. As a means of transition from full-time practice, he notes, it gives physicians a chance to step back and explore those interests that will most engage them after they leave medicine.
“The reality is that none of us should or can practice medicine forever. Certainly not in the surgical specialties,” he observes. “We’ve been productive all our lives,” he says of his fellow locum tenens doctors, “and we want to stay productive.” Dr. Shulman therefore urges physicians not just to plan their retirement from medicine, but to have an activity or career to retire to, as well. “We all need to prepare ourselves for that eventuality,” he says. “Music for me is not a hobby; it’s another vocation.”
That’s a lesson for everyone, no matter what their career may be. We’re all hopefully going to spend a couple of decades in retirement. Why not cultivate those proficiencies and passions that engage us now, at the height of our cognitive powers, so we have these interests to pursue as treasured friends once we hang up whatever career hats we wear?
As for me, the hat I donned after completing this article was that of the author of a Healthcare Traveler piece on entering the world of emergency department travel nursing, which you can read more about here. Should you happen to have a story that needs telling, whether in the healthcare field or elsewhere, please don’t hesitate to contact me and let me help you bring the words to light!