The pros and cons of veterinary locum life - By Katy Ellison MA VetMB MRCVS

Updated: Aug 5

Working in veterinary practice can be immensely rewarding, but there is no doubt that there are some challenges facing the profession at the moment, not least when it comes to veterinary recruitment. With full diaries and permanent staff at full capacity, veterinary locums are in high demand. In fact there is no better time to enter the world of veterinary locuming. Read on for our guide to the pros and cons of veterinary locum life.

Veterinary locum jobs: the pros

  • Take control of your work life balance

Working as a vet locum allows you to choose when you work. No longer are you having to swap duty weekends so you can go to a family wedding. Or that Friday that you wanted off for a long weekend away? Your work schedule is in your hands, and you can say ‘no’. Taking back control of your work-life balance might be just the ticket you need to re-discover all that’s great about the veterinary profession.

  • Variety is the spice of life

A change is often as good as a rest. If you thrive on variety, whether that’s a new job, meeting new people, or exploring a new part of the country, why not consider a role as a locum veterinary surgeon? Whether you have lost your love for your job or just have itchy feet, sometimes a change is as good as a rest.

  • Good levels of remuneration

Veterinary locum jobs are usually well paid, especially in the current climate where vets are like gold dust. Maybe your finances could do with a boost to pay for the dream holiday you’ve been planning, or to cover the costs of home improvements, school uniform, swimming lessons, credit card bills…… There’s no doubting that life can be expensive these days and a few extra locum shifts can make all the difference. Don’t forget to factor in no holiday pay, no sick pay and no paid CPD though.

  • Explore the world

Whether you fancy learning to surf in Devon, hill walking in Scotland, city life in London, or want to spend a few months catching up with friends or family in far flung parts of the UK, there will be vet locum jobs to suit. Vets are in demand up and down the UK, and further afield - the world is your oyster.

  • Career diversification

Thinking of exploring a different veterinary career path but aren’t quite ready to make the leap just yet? Working as a veterinary locum can give you the best of both worlds. While you test the waters of life outside general practice for part of the week, you can keep your hand in, with some veterinary locum shifts too.

  • Learn from new people

Working as part of different veterinary teams exposes you to different ways of thinking, new ideas and can help expand your knowledge. Equally, you will bring a fresh pair of eyes to a veterinary practice, with new insights and a different perspective.

  • No practice politics

Maybe you like a good gossip in the staff kitchen but if the ins and outs of practice politics is not your thing, a vet locum job means there’s no need to get involved!

Veterinary locum jobs: the cons

  • It can be hard to say no

Turning down vet locum jobs can be easier said than done in the midst of a recruitment crisis. The veterinary profession are a pretty caring bunch of people and concern for overstretched colleagues sometimes makes it hard to say no. Setting a limit on the number of shifts you want to work every month will help you prioritise your own work-life balance.

  • You may not feel part of the team

One of the best things about a veterinary career is the strong bonds forged with colleagues when you all pull together to get through busy days and late night emergencies. Spending a relatively short amount of time in a practice may not be conducive to feeling part of the team. If this is a stumbling block to kick starting your vet locum career, you can always consider a longer term locum job or regular locum shifts at a smaller number of practices.

  • You don’t know the clients…

…and the clients don’t know you. Often the most rewarding cases, are those where clients and their pets know and trust you. If you enjoy building long term relationships with pet owners, a career as a veterinary locum may not be for you.

  • Less job security

Job security may not be a particular concern in the current veterinary job market – after all you are unlikely to be short of veterinary job opportunities. But if you like knowing where you are going to be from one month to the next, a more permanent veterinary job may be a better option.

  • Less support

As a general rule, a vet locum will be expected to turn up for work and get on with the job. While a bit of help with the computer system, or a run-down of vaccination protocols may not go amiss, by and large you will be expected to be self-sufficient. A permanent role in a veterinary practice that can invest time and money in your career development may be a better choice if you are in the early stages of your working life, or you just like working with more of a support network.

  • Less case follow-up

It can be harder to follow up on case outcomes as a vet locum but staying in touch with a practice after you leave can help overcome this.

To help you navigate the pros and cons of veterinary locum life and find the perfect locum veterinary surgeon role for you, Get in touch with JHP Recruitment today. Or why not take a look at all our latest veterinary locum jobs here.