Check out our Career Q & A questions below to take a deep dive into this career path. If you’re interested in this type of career but unsure how to take the next step, click below to learn more about our services designed to support you.
After graduating as a Veterinary Technologist, I worked in remote general practice in a northern Canadian community for 6 years. We provide services of a general practice, and also emergency and on-call services. I learned a lot, while also working a lot. Ultimately, very quickly my work-life balance became too heavily weighted on the side of work, including the emotional burden of vet med itself, and I experienced burnout. After a lot of deliberation, I chose to leave the field, but after a couple years of healing, I recognized how much I still loved veterinary medicine. When I decided to return to vet med, I chose to do so as a locum RVT.
I was looking for a way to return to veterinary medicine that would allow me to maintain healthy boundaries while being able to support colleagues with additional help, as well as working to my passions. Locuming seemed like the right fit to my needs.
Veterinary Technology degree
Experience in the field
Set up as a self-employed business
The two very best parts for me are the freedom to clearly lay my boundaries and to provide support to my colleagues when I work as a locum in a vet clinic, which I find exceptionally rewarding.
Some of the downsides are that in order to locum from my base in the Yukon, every time I work I must leave home, as well as the uncertainties that are inherent in self-employment.
Something that is both one of the best bits and is also a downside is the constant adaptation required when joining new teams at a vet clinic. Fun and challenging at the same time!
Because I travel, I tend to locum in a large chunk of time, then return home and have downtime.
When I am providing locum services, then I am doing RVT tasks, and every clinic I go to has me do slightly different things.
My typical day may include working in GP, sometimes in ER. Some clinics request me to run anesthesia, some prefer me to run RVT appointments.
Sometimes I’m the only RVT in the clinic on certain locum contracts, which means I do a bit of everything.
But always, I build rapport with my colleagues, build trust with animal-patients and communicate with pet owners.
My regular tasks as a self-employed locum also include answering emails, sales/marketing my services, booking locum shifts, dealing with accounting such as sending invoices.
In my downtime, I explore other professional interests. I write a blog about my locum experiences, I take the opportunity of time to volunteer with spay/neuter/exam clinics as I can, I have begun speaking on the how-to’s of being a locum RVT.
As a locum RVT, I think it’s helpful to be a person who is open to different ideas and to change. Communication is also a very important skill to develop.
There are many ways to provide locum services, and I think that anyone who is interested in locuming has the potential to make a niche for themselves based on their particular strengths, but change is a strong theme in locuming, so being open to change is important, in my opinion.
Starting up as a self employed business felt like a barrier. It felt scary to transition from being an employee to being self-employed, with all the inherent uncertainties. I found it difficult to find advice online on how to start as a locum RVT, so I adapted what I could find on being a locum vet (not quite the same for an RVT, though some similarities), and also contacted my provincial and national VT associations and got advice from them. And then I worked through the steps and kept moving forward until I was out locuming. I remember feeling a lot of fear and panic as I was getting set up. I’d been out of the field for nearly 3 years by the time I was setting up as a locum, and so that all added to my feelings of uncertainty.
My best advice for someone looking to start as a locum RVT is to just begin. Just begin researching the path and to understanding both the pros and the cons of locuming, just begin the steps to become self employed, just begin…and then be kind to yourself as you learn and grow. Have confidence in yourself and know your value.
We send out regular updates with articles about creating a sustainable career in vet med, along with job opportunities and more. Employers, we’ve got great articles for you too!