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Life as a locum

Locuming across Scotland

Locum optometrist, Craig McCoy, discusses phasing out his full-time residency role to locuming for independents across Scotland and the Highlands

Craig McCoy

Before the week begins: I try to keep myself booked up a month or two in advance and at the start of each week I’ll look at where I am going over the next seven days and plan my days accordingly.

If I am locuming in a practice where I haven’t worked before, I always try to visit it in my own time before my first day so I can meet the practice owner and get shown round. Generally, being a locum, the worst thing in the world is having a patient in the testing room and not being able to turn something on or flicking a switch and it doing something different from what you expect it to – visiting ahead of time eliminates this. It’s also nice to know what frame and lens suppliers they use because I will be making recommendations.

7am: In terms of travel, there isn’t so much a typical journey for me. If I am locuming in Aberdeen, then I will walk to work. However, I will sometimes drive around an hour or so to the practice where I will be that day – independents are very spread out across Scotland so you have to be prepared to travel. In addition, sometimes I work in the Highlands and Islands for weekly periods and the practices will provide accommodation. On those occasions I wake up and I am already at work.

I always have a bag of equipment and my laptop packed ready to go. The equipment that I tend to carry round is perhaps a bit more specialised than most because in Scotland there is a minimum amount of equipment that each practice has to have in order to comply with the General Ophthalmic Services contract. The stuff in my bag includes a gonio lens, an indirect lens, lacrimal syringing tools, my ret and my ophthalmoscope, amongst other things.

Sometimes I work in the Highlands and Islands for weekly periods and the practices will provide accommodation. On those occasions I wake up and I am already at work

 

9am: I arrive 15–20 minutes before my first patient so I have the time to get familiar with the testing room and make sure I can turn everything on. The first day in any practice can be a bit stop/start, but after you have seen a few patients you know where you are moving to next.
12pm: I try to keep up with referrals as I go. Across most of Scotland, especially where I am, we have access to electronic referrals. So I need to be assigned to a practice before I start a shift in order to be enabled to process referrals as I go. Generally, I try to keep up with referrals as I go so I don’t have to stay late.

1pm: If I bring my own lunch, I go to the break room to eat. If I have referrals to do, I will try to get a couple done over lunch. In a new location, I always try to take a walk around the town too.

I always have a bag of equipment and my laptop packed ready to go. The stuff in my bag includes a gonio lens, an indirect lens, lacrimal syringing tools, my ret and my ophthalmoscope, amongst other things

 

5pm: At the end of the day I pack up my equipment and leave a note for the regular optometrist regarding anything that I feel they need to be made aware of, such as patients who have been booked in for a follow up. Before leaving I always take the time to do a double-check to make sure that I don’t leave anything behind – it has happened before.

Ad hoc: When it comes to invoicing and tax, I have an accountant and also use a service called QuickBooks – this platform makes invoicing really easy as you create it on that software and sent them out. At the end of each month, I make sure all my invoices for that period have been sent.

  • As told to Emily McCormick. 

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