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Have you ever thought about working as a locum occupational therapist? The job is often misunderstood. There are some common myths, such as ‘there aren’t many job opportunities in the UK’, ‘agency workers aren’t committed to the job’ or ‘locum work is only a short-term fix’. In fact, it can be a rewarding and surprisingly secure career choice.
The demand for OTs is increasing, and locums play an important part in that. They’re often recruited to cover maternity leave, holidays, sickness, training and unexpectedly large workloads. Hospitals and private sector organisations continually face these issues on a daily basis, creating an exceptional demand for qualified professionals.
Just like permanent roles, locum roles offer sick pay, holiday pay, flexibility, experience within a variety of establishments and specialist areas, and competitive financial rewards.
Many OTs make a full-time career out of locum work. Others treat it as a temporary opportunity until permanent employment is found, or the perfect way to strike a good work/life balance.
It’s vital to choose the right agency. Locum agencies are often the target of negative press; you may have heard of some with an aggressive approach, or ones that promise the earth and fail to deliver. There are, however, a number of agencies like us who value relationships and, more importantly, listen to their candidate’s requirements. Look for agencies accredited by the regulatory body, PASA and the REC, whose code of professional practice will be being followed.
Not all work placements are the same and preparation is essential prior to commencing a new post. If you are entering into a new area of OT, you should refresh your knowledge of this specialty area, which will help towards your professional development. If in doubt, ask your agency to assist you further in preparation for your new role.
Working as a locum follows the same rigorous compliance checks as does a permanent position. You’ll be required to have up-to-date immunisations, criminal record checks and mandatory training, such as basic life support and manual handling, to name a couple. Your specialist recruitment consultant should discuss your requirements in detail, in order to gain a better understanding of your career aspirations. Also, don’t forget, it’s your responsibility to manage your own professional development, mandatory training and designing your own career path. It’s important to choose an agency that will support your continued professional development throughout your career.
So how much can I earn? A locum OT can earn between £22-37 per hour. As a locum, you will be expected to manage your own finances and career; for instance, managing your timesheets, professional development and setting up your own pension scheme if required. It may also be worth noting that if you’re happy with your agency’s service, most will have an opportunity for you to earn a monetary bonus, by referring colleagues or friends in the industry to them.
Some agencies offer CPD support and can assist in funding your development. You should also keep in regular contact with The College of Occupational Therapists and the British Association of Occupation Therapists and try to attend some of the many conferences that are on offer.
• Locum work is often misperceived
• Preparation is vital
• Reflect upon and assess your competencies
• Take ownership of your professional development
• Choose the right agency
• Manage your finances
• Stay and be involved in your profession
For more information on working as a locum OT, please contact us.