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As a freelance or locum doctor, you are effectively now a business. If you want to get booked and get the rates you deserve, you should invest time in marketing yourself in the same way any other business would.
First things first – contracts. If you’re looking for guidance on how to put together your locum contract, check out our “Locum Contracts and Agreements – what should they contain?” article.
Like any business, it is important to research your clients before you decide how you want to approach them for work.
The NHS Choices website is a good way to find out all you need to know about a surgery in your area. Look up the ones you are willing to travel to and understand their dynamics. For example, the number of doctors working there or the demographics they serve.
This will also give you an idea as to whether you want to work there or not. For example, if you have a special interest in diabetes this could be a real selling point for practices with diabetes clinics. A single-handed practice might not offer you the support you might be looking for and an inner city practice might be too much of a challenge if you are used to rural practices.
Don’t forget to do your own due diligence! Just as practices ask for references on you, you are completely entitled to check up on them. Ask around the local network of locums what certain practices are like to work for.
Practices can’t employ you if they don’t know who you are. Get on their radar and make a good first impression. We recommend trying a variety of ways of marketing your services to practices.
Think about ways you can differentiate yourself from other locums, perhaps make your own flyer or spend time making your CV look good.
Make sure to include your contact details, home telephone number, fax, mobile and email address. These are good take-home ways of reminding the practice who you are each time they look for a locum.
There are often mailing lists run by people in the area updating doctors of the latest locum needs, find out if there is one in your area and get added to the list!
These are often organised by PCTs and postgraduate centres. Here you can meet local GPs and also other locums who can be a great source of support if moving to a new area (the PCT can tell you who your local GP tutor is – they will give you information on when these are happening).
There is a large network of sessional GP groups across the UK. They vary in format and joining requirements, but they are a great way to meet other locums and find out about the job role.
This is a good way to look organised and on top of things when practices are looking at your CV. You can have your availability on there and your online CV. Practice managers are busy people, so making it easy for them to find your information is paramount.
Make it easy for practices to employ you by having all of the information that they require to hand. If they like your CV and want to know more, make sure they can do this quickly so you can close the job – don’t let yourself down after you’ve got this far!
First and foremost are up-to-date and easy to find contact details of yourself and your referees. We cannot emphasise how important it is – be easy to contact and return surgeries’ calls. If you don’t, practices might just call the next locum on the list!