Staying organised as a locum
Locum optometrist, Gautam Passi, discusses building a rapport with the practice team and how being organised is of upmost importance
The night before: Preparation starts the evening before my locum shift when I plan my transport and travel route to the practice that I will be working at the following day. Preparing in advance in this way ensures that I am always on time. Generally, I tend to use Google to plan my route and check if and where parking is available. This dictates what time I set my alarm and get up in the morning. Being organised is an important part of being a locum.
7.30am: I wake up, shower, get ready and leave for work. My preferred mode of transport is driving as I have more control. Before I leave the house, I check that I have my equipment bag, which contains my Volk lens, trial frame, flippers, ophthalmoscope and retinoscope. I also have a stamp with my General Optical Council and Ophthalmic Performers List numbers on. I use this particularly when I’m in a practice that keeps paper records or that does not have a printer; it saves me having to sign my details repeatedly. I don’t have to check the contents of my bag each morning because I make sure that I do these checks before leaving the practice visited last. Through experience, I have found it much easier to perform my checks in this order so that I am simply ready to go the following day. Then I’m ready to set off.
I don’t want to be writing all my referrals at the end of the day when I am tired and rushed for time when the practice is closing and people want to go home
8.30am: On arriving at a practice, I start by introducing myself to the manager or director so I can begin to build a rapport. I will also introduce myself to every member of staff who is around; I find that being friendly means that people are more supportive and approachable during the day.
I will then take time with the manager to ask any questions I have to ensure that I can meet their needs and requirements for the day ahead, clarifying what my role will be in the process. The types of questions that I like to ask include whether I will be doing pre-testing, if they have a preferred method for handovers and if they have any offers that I should be aware of, for example.
Finally, I will get a login, sign myself into the practice’s system and take a few minutes to get comfortable. I lay out my equipment in the order that I will need it and wait for my first patient.
1pm: I normally take my lunch with me. However, I make sure that I eat in the lunchroom, if there is one, with the practice team. I do this because is it nice to get to know the staff and build rapport with them. Having this connection can be both useful on the day and if I return for another locum day in the future. I know a lot of locums who sit in their room and have lunch, but I prefer to spend that time talking with staff as it will only benefit my career.
Throughout the day: I make sure that I complete my referrals when necessary after each patient I see. I do this systematically and, if I am tight on time, I always try to ensure that I catch up before taking my lunch. I don’t want to be writing all my referrals at the end of the day when I am tired and rushed for time when the practice is closing and people want to go home.
I make sure that I eat in the lunchroom with the practice team when there is one. I do this because is it nice to get to know the staff and build rapport with them
5pm: Before leaving a practice, I always check with the person in charge to see if there is anything that they need me to sign, such as General Ophthalmic Services forms. I make a point of asking this question so that it doesn’t lead to problems the following day.
I also like to thank the team and say goodbye. I will sometimes leave a business card behind, which is useful for the practice in case it wants to get in touch to book me again, as well as for invoicing purposes.
- As told to Emily McCormick.