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You may have already heard the term ‘locum’ in the context of medicine or healthcare and wondered: What does locum mean? What is a locum doctor?

The word locum is derived from the Latin phrase locum tenens, which translates to ‘place holder’. So when the word is used in reference to roles in the medical industry, a locum is a person who temporarily fills in for someone else. Therefore, the meaning of locum doctor in healthcare is a physician who fills in for another physician who is not currently available.

Locum doctors are medical experts that fill in for another doctor on a temporary basis. If a permanent doctor is on leave, the health organisation may cover the absence by hiring a locum doctor. Knowing what a locum doctor is and the role and responsibilities of this post can help you land your desired job in the Australian medical field.

Let’s examine the basics of working as a locum general practitioner (GP), as well as the career path, skills, and opportunities that come with this role. We also offer advice on how you can get started with locuming as a GP and guide you in your search for locum jobs in Australia.

What is a Locum GP, and what does he or she do?

A locum GP is a doctor who works temporarily in a general practice. GP locum doctors cover for other GPs who are on leave, who are sick, or have retired. They also work in areas where there is a high demand for medical locum services, and there are not enough GPs to cover all the patients.

Locum GPs work for a few weeks or months at a time. During this period, they offer all the same medical services as a regular GP. This includes seeing patients, prescribing medication, and referrals to specialists. In most locum general practitioner jobs, doctors have previous experience working in the same field or specialty as the doctor they are covering.

GP locum agencies like Alecto Australia – which match GPs with practices that need coverage across the country – are typically great places to find locum GP jobs.

A part-time and permanent locum doctor can relieve overworked staff and help ensure that patients continue to receive the care they need even when their regular GP is not available, making them an essential part of the healthcare system.

How much does a Locum GP earn in Australia?

There’s no such thing as a fixed GP locum salary. In general, GP locum doctors are normally paid an hourly and/or daily rate. During certain times, locum jobs can earn you over $4,000 a day amid doctor workforce crisis. So, how much do locum doctors get paid in general practices?

  • $150-$500 / hour
  • $1,000-$4,000 / day
  • $85,000-$450,000 / year
  • Or 65%-70% / billings

It varies depending on certain factors, including…

  • Experience level and qualifications
  • Health specialty and type of work
  • Territory/area – rural or city?
  • Vocational registration or not

Remember, GP locum rates may be higher for rural locations or after-hours, weekend, and public holiday work. Plus, GP locum doctors may also be eligible for other forms of compensation, such as sign-on bonuses, travel allowances, accommodation stipends, and relocation packages. Ultimately, the amount a GP locum doctor makes will be based on individual circumstances.

How to become a GP Locum Doctor?

General practitioner locums are in high demand these days. Hospitals and clinics always look for experienced medical professionals to fill in for staff on vacation or leave. If you’re a qualified doctor, then working as a locum can be a great way to boost your income.

But how do you get started on becoming a locum doctor?

  1. Complete a master’s degree. Whether you’re just starting out in your medical career path or you’ve been working for years, getting a master’s degree in medicine or surgery is the most common way to gain a general medical registration.
  2. Join a GP fellowship training. There are two training programs in Australia to choose from: Fellow of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (FACRRM) and Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (FRACGP).
  3. Apply for a medical registration. You must apply for approval through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). This process ensures that all medical practitioners meet the necessary educational and professional requirements.
  4. Find a locum doctor agency. The right medical recruitment agency will have a wide network of GP locum doctor jobs to choose from. Alecto Australia is one of the country’s leading GP locum agencies and has been helping connect doctors interested in locum work and health organisations for over 10 years.
  5. Create a detailed profile. Include your qualifications, experience, and availability. A good profile will help you stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of being interviewed. So take your time to build something that reflects your skills and abilities.
  6. Send your resume to job offers. Is your CV ready to go? Make sure to submit it as soon as possible. There are many locum GP vacancies open right now. You don’t want to miss out on a life-changing opportunity of locum work.
  7. Discuss further details with job matches. When considering locum GP jobs, once you’ve been a match, talk about the position’s details. What are their expectations? What are your availability and working hours? How long do they need a locum for?

There’s a full guide we made exclusively for you on Becoming a GP in Australia – check it out!

Pros and cons of working as a Locum GP

By 2030, there will be a massive growth in demand for GP medical locum services, driven primarily by increases in population size and demographic shifts towards older age groups. It’s projected a shortfall of 24.7% of the GP workforce or 9,298 full-time GPs – Deloitte’s report.

So there is more than enough room for GPs from all over the world. Becoming a locum doctor in general practice can be incredibly rewarding. You’ll have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of your patients and help them get back on their feet. But it can also be challenging, so it’s important to know what to expect to weigh up the pros and cons.


Travel to discover new places

While some GPs choose to work in a single place for their entire career, GP locum doctors have the freedom to move around and experience different parts of the country. New places, new people, new learnings. Whether you’re looking for a short-term or long-term adventure, there’s no denying that the GP locum life is a fascinating idea that offers adventure and career growth.

Personally and financially rewarding

On a personal level, it can be very fulfilling knowing that you are providing a high-quality healthcare service to the community. You also have the chance to build relationships with patients and learn from other doctors. On a financial level, you can make around $150-$500 per hour. Overall, you give back to the people and earn a sustainable income at the same time.

Advantageous work flexibility

As a locum doctor, you have the freedom to choose which shifts you want to work and how many hours you want to work each week. Depending on your availability, you can take on as much or as little work as you like. This can be a tremendous benefit for GPs with other commitments outside of work, such as childcare, study, caring for elderly relatives, etc.

Better employment opportunities

Unlike permanent doctors who are employed by a single practice, locum GPs have the chance to work in a variety of settings and gain a wealth of knowledge. This makes them highly sought-after by practices looking for experienced staff. As a result, GP locum doctors mostly find that their careers progress much more diversely than their employed counterparts.


Work availability

Organisations are not obliged to offer regular work; sometimes, many locum doctors may find themselves without bookings for weeks. For GPs who are used to a regular paycheck, this can be seen as a downside to locum GP work. However, it is worth noting that many health centres are willing to offer regular work to GPs who prove a great performance with patients. Additionally, GPs can supplement their income with private or online consultations. As such, while work availability may be a concern for some GPs, it should not be a deal-breaker.

Income fluctuation

Because you are not employed by a single practice, your income can fluctuate from week to week. This requires more financial planning on your end. You may also find yourself working fewer hours during slow periods. While some GP locum hospital doctors enjoy the flexibility that locum work offers, others who are not used to it see it as a downside.

Locum GP jobs available – Try something different

If you’re a GP who’s looking for a change of scenery, or if you’re just starting out in your career and are wondering what opportunities are available to you, then you may be interested in learning more about locum general practitioners. So, what is a locum GP? It is just a physician who fills in to cover someone on leave or help out during busy periods at clinics or hospitals.

Locum GPs can earn a good income and are often paid more than regular doctors, as they have a lower time commitment. They may do this for several reasons, such as because they’re seeking new career challenges, want to gain experience in different specialties, or want to live in a new location. If hospital locum positions sound like something you might be interested in, explore locum GP jobs on Alecto Australia – we have dozens of them available