There’s a lot to consider before packing up and moving overseas for a year. In the Q&A below, child & adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Jason Lambrese shares how he made a one-year locums assignment in New Zealand work for him and his husband as well as how happy he is that he could make this experience of a lifetime happen.
What drew you to New Zealand?
I did six years of residency and fellowship, and the idea of taking an international locum tenens assignment as kind of a gap year between my fellowship and a more permanent job was really appealing. It was something a lot of people talked about. Everyone seemed to know a doctor who had done it.”
So, you went to New Zealand after your fellowship and before taking a permanent position?
“Yes. I saw it sort of like this fun year in between, and the timing was right. We were ready to leave Boston anyway, so we had sold our condo and packed.”
How hard was it to navigate the visa, credentialing, and licensing process?
“GMS took care of all of those logistics and other ones too. That was huge. That’s the benefit of going through a locum tenens company versus trying to get a job overseas on your own. I couldn’t have navigated the immigration website. With moving across the world, there are so many things you have to deal with and think about, but GMS took care of so much of it.”
What were some of the highlights of your year in New Zealand?
“The people are so nice. The place is beautiful. There’s so much stuff to do. There’s such a variety of landscapes and activities. We did so much travel using my six weeks of PTO, and I love that I didn’t have to work the weekends, and we could travel then too. We could put the real life stuff on hold because there really wasn’t much real life stuff to do out there except work and pay a few bills. I had that freedom to adventure and to explore.”
What was the biggest challenge?
“Being so far away from home. We didn’t get any visitors over the year because people need a lot of time, money, and stamina to make the flight. We thought about getting a two-bedroom apartment because everyone was so excited. I’m glad we didn’t because the spare room never would’ve gotten used. Timing calls to communicate back home was also tough.”
What was it like practicing medicine in a country with universal health care?
“I liked the work and being in a community clinic and that we were serving a more marginalized population. I feel like I was doing more good than maybe I would have otherwise and that specialized skills are used more effectively.”
What did you like the most?
“The people were great, and the place was beautiful! Learning a new way to practice medicine was fascinating. That experience of being in a whole new place and a whole new system — I needed that change.”
What would you say to other doctors considering international locum tenens?
“Go! For many of us, it might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Kari Redfield is a professional content marketing writer. She also is a novelist and writes for newsstand magazines and has had work appear in publications such as Arizona Highways, Sedona Magazine, and American Fitness. And like the locums physicians profiled in these stories, she loves the flexibility and new experiences that her unique job provides, and loves to travel. She has been known to spend weeks in the U.S. West in her Aliner, checking out classic trad rock climbs, epic mountain bike rides, and other adventures while writing from the road.