How to survive your first locum shift


first locum shift

Embarking on your first locum shift can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. As a locum, you'll be stepping into unfamiliar environments, working with new teams, and facing unique challenges. However, with proper preparation and a positive mindset, you can navigate your first locum shift successfully. In this blog, we'll share essential tips and strategies to help you survive and thrive during your initial locum assignment.

Tips on surviving your first locum shift

Be Prepared

Preparation is key to a smooth locum shift. Familiarize yourself with the details of the assignment, including the location, shift timings, and any specific requirements. Obtain any necessary documentation or certifications required by the healthcare facility. Review clinical guidelines and refresh your knowledge in areas relevant to the assignment. Being well-prepared will boost your confidence and allow you to provide high-quality care.

Arrive Early

Aim to arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes before your shift starts. Arriving early allows you to familiarize yourself with the surroundings, meet the staff, and settle in before the workload begins. It also shows your professionalism and commitment to the role, leaving a positive impression on your colleagues and supervisors.

Ask Questions

Don't hesitate to ask questions, especially during your first locum shift. Seek clarification on protocols, procedures, and any specific requirements of the healthcare facility. Every setting may have its unique practices, and asking for guidance demonstrates your commitment to providing safe and effective care. Your colleagues will appreciate your eagerness to learn and contribute.

Build Rapport

Developing a good rapport with the permanent staff is essential for a successful locum experience. Be friendly, approachable, and open to collaboration. Introduce yourself to colleagues and show interest in their work. Building positive relationships will facilitate teamwork, improve communication, and create a supportive work environment.

Take Notes

During your shift, take notes on key information, such as patient details, specific instructions, and important contacts. Having these notes handy will help you stay organized, provide continuity of care, and ensure accurate documentation. Additionally, jotting down any questions or areas for further learning will enable you to address them later and enhance your professional development.

Prioritise Patient Safety

Patient safety should always be your top priority as a locum. Adhere to infection control practices, follow proper medication management protocols, and maintain accurate documentation. If you encounter any concerns or issues related to patient safety, don't hesitate to raise them with the appropriate staff members. Maintaining high standards of care will contribute to positive patient outcomes and enhance your professional reputation.

Stay Calm and Flexible

Locum shifts can be unpredictable, with varying patient loads, challenging cases, and time constraints. It's important to stay calm and adaptable in such situations. Prioritize your tasks, delegate when appropriate, and manage your time efficiently. Embrace the unexpected and approach each challenge as an opportunity for growth and learning.

Seek Feedback

After completing your first locum shift, seek feedback from the permanent staff and supervisors. Their insights can help you identify areas of improvement and build upon your strengths. Actively listen to their feedback and apply it to future shifts to enhance your performance as a locum GP.

Reflect and Learn

Take time to reflect on your first locum shift and identify what went well and areas for improvement. Consider any new skills or knowledge you gained during the shift. Reflecting on your experiences will enable you to learn and grow as a locum GP, enhancing your future practice.


Locum shifts can be demanding, both physically and emotionally. Prioritize self-care to maintain your well-being. Get adequate rest, eat nutritious meals, and engage in activities that help you relax and recharge. Remember to strike a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout.

Build Your Network

Locum shifts provide an excellent opportunity to expand your professional network. Connect with colleagues, exchange contact information, and engage in conversations. Building a strong network can lead to future locum opportunities, referrals, and valuable professional connections.

Stay Organised

As a locum, staying organised is crucial for managing multiple assignments effectively. Use digital tools like calendar apps or specialized locum management platforms to keep track of your schedule, assignments, and important deadlines. Being organized will help you stay on top of your responsibilities and reduce stress.

Embrace Continuous Learning

Locum shifts offer diverse experiences and learning opportunities. Embrace each shift as a chance to learn new skills, encounter different patient populations, and adapt to various healthcare settings. Engage in continuous professional development by attending relevant workshops, conferences, and online courses to enhance your knowledge and stay updated with the latest developments in your field.

Surviving your first locum shift may seem daunting, but with the right mindset and preparation, you can navigate the experience successfully. Embrace the challenges, prioritize patient care, communicate effectively, seek feedback, and prioritize self-care. Remember, each locum shift is a stepping stone toward becoming a confident and experienced locum GP.

Looking for work as a locum in the UK? Get in touch with us at Think Locum.

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