Locum Tenens Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

This post discusses some of the unexpected positives and negative ways I've seen locum tenens affect my family, including how it makes the heart grow fonder.

by The Darwinian Doctor

This post discusses some of the unexpected positives and negative ways I’ve seen locum tenens affect my family, including how it makes the heart grow fonder.

This post may contain affiliate links.


As a locum tenens urologic surgeon, I spend at least 9 days a month on the road.  Once a month, I travel from Memphis to Ohio to operate, see consults, and cover seven days of call for a hospital system near Cleveland.  The work can be exhausting, especially since I’m on call 24/7 for a week straight. But this arrangement is the key to my dual existence as a physician and real estate investor.

When I head home after my week of call, I know that I’ll get three weeks of uninterrupted time to work on my own portfolio and Cereus Real Estate.

While I enjoy the life freedom I get from my role as a locum tenens, there is no getting around the downside of my absence from my home.  Especially with a wife and two young kids in the picture, my job means that I’m not always there to help with the day to day realities of breakfast, bedtime, and school related functions. I’m also not always there to support my wife in her work related events and social calendar. 

But to be honest, when I worked 50-60 hours a week as a full time urologic surgeon in SoCal, I often wasn’t around for these things either. I usually missed breakfast with the kids and was lucky if I got home before they fell asleep.

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To be honest, despite the travel inherent to my role as a locum tenens, I greatly prefer the current situation. I’ve also recently noted a big perk: locum tenens makes the heart grow fonder

Locum tenens makes the heart grow fonder

I’ve also noticed an extra perk of my travel. When I come back from my time out of state, I’m welcomed back with more excitement than usual.  The hugs are bigger and there is more general appreciation for my presence. My regular once-a-month absences make my returns that much better!

This also goes the other way. Locum tenens can sometimes be lonely, so I’m really happy to be back with my family when I return home.  I’m more tolerant of my kids’ antics at the end of the day when they’re trying to avoid bedtime. And I’m a more patient spouse when my wife requests help from me. The effect wears off after a few days as I ease back into family life. But since I’m away on a monthly basis, I feel this effect regularly enough to appreciate it.  

In other words, my regular trips provide us all with regular shots of gratitude and appreciation for each other. 

Any travel job likely has this perk

Of course, it’s not only locum tenens that offers this perk. Any job that regularly takes you away from your family is going to this effect. And depending on the job or the schedule, I think many people would say that the extra appreciation isn’t worth the rigors of the travel.

But in my case, there is slight difference in that I chose this schedule. The fact that I’m in control of my schedule somehow makes the travel much more tolerable. And it’s certainly a tremendous improvement over the burnout I felt when I was working too many hours for a lower pay rate as an employed physician in Southern California!

Read more: The Epidemic of Physician Burnout

How can we make it even better?

I’m on a never-ending quest for optimization, so I’m always considering ways that I can cut down my time away from home.  One obvious way to do this would be to change the location of my locum tenens work to somewhere closer to home.  Another equally valid way to do this would be to increase my cash flow from other ventures, thereby decreasing the need for my medical income. 

If I didn’t have to travel for 8 hours just to get from Memphis to Ohio, for example, that would go a long way to reducing my travel days. (Unfortunately there’s no direct flight from Memphis to Cleveland.). This would mean more time with my family and less exhausting of a locum tenens experience. While I search for this, I’ve been spending most of my time on the second options, which is to build a great real estate investment company and optimize my existing real estate portfolio as well.

Are you looking for passive real estate investment opportunities? Come join the investor club at Cereus Real Estate!


Despite the obvious negative consequences of my absence, for now, it’s provided an almost perfect solution to my desire to compartmentalize my medical practice to only part of the month.  It’s also a much more time efficient way of earning an income in medicine.

In addition to these factors, we can add the fact that locum tenens makes the heart grow fonder!

— The Darwinian Doctor

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Since everyone is different, it may not be appropriate to generalize my doctorly advice to your own situation. Please run all medical, life, and financial advice by your own physician or financial professionals before applying it to your own life! Consider all information for your entertainment only!

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