Hello, I’m Dr Simon Wade, GP Locum
Firstly I would like to thank you for taking the time to visit my website, I appreciate you investing some time here and am sure you will find something positive to take away.
I guess you landed here as you would like to find out how to have a better experience as a sessional doctor/ locum GP, after all that’s what this website is all about, ‘helping doctors better themselves’.
But before we get into that I would like to tell you a bit about myself and my journey.
The main reason for telling you a bit about myself is that by learning a bit about me and understand something of my journey, you will be able to relate to my experiences and understand my motivation for sharing my learning.
Locum GP work can be really fulfilling and rewarding and I would like you to have a similarly positive experience.
We all learned at medical school from those with the appropriate specialist experience – it would have taken a lot longer to become doctors without their help . I would like the opportunity to help shorten your learning curve in becoming a confident and skilled locum doctor. I have a lot of useful information to share with you and will do that with my free report and a wealth of other useful resources that I usually deliver on my blog and by email.
I have been qualified as a medical GP since 1990, worked abroad in New Zealand and Canada before settling into full time general practice partnership in January 1992, where I stayed for 16 years. The past four years since 2008, I have been working as a sessional / locum GP, I am happily married with a large extended family, have a very supportive Christian church family, choose when I work and where and enjoy freedom, choice and profits. I am very happy and don’t often feel stressed.
It hasn’t always been like that however, I have come through some difficult challenges which have taught me a lot and helped me grow into the person I am today. It’s said that people often learn more from their mistakes than through their successes – that’s certainly been true for me, in fact I should really be a genius by now!
I started out at Kings College, University of London, in 1980, just 18, young, shy, but enthusiastic and keen to learn. I was certain I wanted to be a doctor, and wanted to make a difference, help save lives, improve people’s health.
I was full of good, but maybe naïve, intentions.
After qualifying I took some time out, then went to do house jobs at Gloucester and then Cuckfield Hospital, West Sussex (now relocated to Hayward’s Heath), then joined the GP vocational training scheme there for three years and finally had time working as a locum in New Zealand and the UK, before spending a year as locum family practitioner at Port Saunders Hospital, Newfoundland, Canada along with my wife. It was great medical and life experience and we had a lot of fun. Unfortunately my wife fell ill and we had to return to the UK after a year, a little sooner than planned.
So we returned to the UK the following summer, 1991. My son was born in the September and I did locum work until taking a partnership in Corby, Northants in 1992. Settling into a 7 full time doctor partnership brought the usual stresses, but I was committed to ‘doing the right thing for my family’, so I knuckled down and enjoyed the hard work.
Unfortunately my then wife became unwell, so it was a difficult time for us all. My long hours and the family ongoing illness took its toll on our relationship, which sadly broke down later and I lost my way. Within a few years I was in a new relationship, working long hours and travelling long distances to see my son on weekends and trying to create another ‘family’ experience with stepchildren.
Through trying to provide now for two families, I was actually sabotaging another relationship. I had the work life balance all wrong and though I felt guilty at the hours I was working, I somehow felt trapped and that I had to work long and hard to meet my commitments.
At the practice a doctor went off on long term sickness absence, for almost a year; then a colleague left – and it took a year to replace him. We then had a maternity leave absence for another colleague. And then another partner was off on compassionate leave… So for five long years we were short of at least one, and at times one and a half, doctors. So the workload was just crazy, my second marriage failed and the long hours took their toll on me. I became disillusioned with general practice and wanted out. As you know, time is the one commodity we don’t get back.
I started planning my escape, looking for alternatives to the NHS pension scheme, as I realised mine would be drastically reduced if I left general practice.
After looking at the various alternatives I got into property investing, got hooked and started to learn efficient ways to pick up bargain properties, with a ‘buy to let’ mortgage, to rent out, for long term capital appreciation. It was exciting, enjoyable, I was successful at it and it gave me a buzz.
Big Mistake. – I was spending time looking into property investments when I was already working very hard looking after a list of 2700 and often over 3000 patients, as most weeks one colleague was on leave. Something had to give, and although my clinical care was unaffected, my admin was piling up, there weren’t the hours in the day to get everything done. Also I was less effective / less efficient – I was always feeling tired and not really coping. (I was later diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnoea, but at the time put my high fatigue down to ‘stress’ and overwork)
My partners were getting fed up with my underperformance with admin and ultimately we had to agree to parting company, for everyone’s benefit.
So there I was, out of a practice job, it was early 2008, I was a bit over extended with personal loans and credit cards due to busy property investing – I’d been in too much of a hurry to build up a portfolio, and then the economic and property downturn came along – and I had no immediate work.
Initially I felt as if my world was disintegrating around me, I was paralysed by fears and anxieties… the thought of bankruptcy loomed. But just at that time one of the pastors at my local church came alongside me, helped me to see and know that I am unique and special, as is every human being, and encouraged me to look at my life, take stock, talk with him regularly and take exercise. I started to get a healthier lifestyle, and accept my situation, deal with one day at a time; to work through each challenge, one step at a time.
I also realised that deep down inside I have the resources to deal with many different life experiences which have stretched me, whether it’s working in unfamiliar settings, both here and abroad, handling personal challenges or long distance wilderness treks.
I learned not to focus on the worries and possible bleak future scenarios but start each day saying ‘thank you ‘ for all the blessings I did have. I also learned to always remember there are so many folk worse off than me in so many ways, and remember the people that loved and cared about me. And I was reminded that they would still love me, whatever happened.
I met a wonderful lady through church – Jadzia, who became my wife in March 2010.
We have four beautiful stepdaughters and a step son, who have all accepted my son and myself into their family.
I have a very good relationship with my son.
I started a debt management plan, so I can clear my debts in an honourable fashion over time, without the stress and harassment from creditors.
And I and found that through the locum work, I got my life back: I have choice as to where I work, I have freedom – and it’s profitable.
Apart from one very short spell of a few weeks when I was signed up with a locum agency I get all my own work, so I find an agency is not a necessity. The restrictions imposed when you work via an agency have a bigger and bigger impact on your freedom to work where you want the longer you are signed up and taking work through them. My experience has been that I don’t need an agency to get work, I just have to have the right mind-set and self -belief, to know that I can get the work – and I do.
I have never been short of work, the practices where I have enjoyed working have regularly asked me back to do more work. I am liked by patients and staff, I have kept the skills and qualities I always had as a GP partner, and get good feedback. Patients appreciate being listened to and not feeling rushed. I do a good job, the best I can, and I really enjoy what I do once again, but I go home and leave work at work.
I have found more and more younger and some older colleagues have asked me for advice in recent years regarding how to ‘do’ locum work effectively and enjoyably. They want to know how to cope with the uncertainties of being a locum, and how to cope with all the different styles and ways that medical practices operate. I share some of my good and not so good experiences with them and have been pleased (and initially surprised) that what I share is useful and valuable information. I now realise I have gathered a great deal of experience and knowledge, having done my first locum in June 1990.
Being a sessional doctor / GP locum is a subspecialty of medical practice. It’s quite distinct from the usual partner or salaried style of work. I have spent over 10,000 hours working as a locum face to face with patients and that’s the length of time that research has shown that one needs to be ‘doing’ your specialism, in order to master it. I continue to enjoy helping patients, and really enjoy helping colleagues, especially in the arena of working as a sessional doctor. I have a lot of experience which I can share and would like to share it with as many people as possible.
I hope you find something of value on my website,
If there’s anything I can help you with, do please get in touch,
To Your Success,