From Retirement to Locum in One Fell Swoop

John Kleinig - Physiotherapist

Living in a local town called Tanunda located in the Barossa Valley region of South Australia, I contemplated my retirement from physiotherapy over a year ago. After all, I had worked as a physiotherapist for over 30 years looking after patients in aged care and private practice. I operated a private practice in several locations, initially employing staff and in the last few years working as a sole practitioner.

I considered starting a new chapter in my life and hang up my physiotherapy hat until a colleague of mine suggested that I try my hand at locuming for an Australian Government-funded rural and remote locum program called the Rural Locum Assistance Program (Rural LAP). Up until then I had not heard of the program but I was intrigued so I contacted the team to find out more.

I was excited at the opportunity to work in other areas of physiotherapy and to travel at the same time. The locum program gives you the chance to travel around Australia and work with a diverse range of people in very interesting locations. 

So I applied to become a locum with Rural LAP in September 2014 and, after a very straight-forward but fairly rigorous and thorough vetting process, I began my first placement in January 2015 and was fortunate enough to be offered several locum placements in this time.

I have worked in a variety of areas including private practice, hospitals, community health settings and aged care. These placements have taken me from Port Pirie in South Australia, across the east coast to Inverall in New South Wales and up north to Ingham, Gayndah and Bargara in Queensland. I have travelled south to Burnie, Port Sorell, La Trobe and Launceston in Tasmania and across the Great Australian Bite to Esperance in Western Australia.

Traveling for work is always interesting. I explored new parts of Australia after work and on weekends. It certainly was a nice reward for being prepared to leave home for a couple of weeks at a time. While I thoroughly enjoyed my “working holidays”, I must point out that I was usually very busy throughout my locum placements.  

Not having thought about becoming a locum after retirement, I really wasn’t looking for anything in particular but it renewed my enthusiasm for my profession. Locuming allowed me to continue with my retirement plans whilst still maintaining a presence in the industry by making myself available for locum placements.

I shared some of my skills and experience as a sole practitioner in private practice with the younger generation of rural and remote physiotherapists. I found it really rewarding to work with other physiotherapists and health professionals. They were always extremely helpful and appreciate the help given to cover their team members on leave. I felt supported by the teams both on placement and the program officers that were always on hand to provide assistance at any time.

It was great working as a rural and remote locum physiotherapist and experiencing all it had to offer. If you’re ever considering becoming a locum, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough!