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Locum versus permanent – to stay or not to stay!

Whether you’re a veterinary nurse or a veterinary surgeon, given two years post qualification practical experience the options open up to you as to whether you remain in a permanent position or whether you become a locum.

Veterinary practices use locum nurses and surgeons for a variety of reasons including seasonal busy period (such as lambing season), maternity leave, long term sickness, and so on. Locums provide cover for gaps in personnel without the practice having to commit to a new employee and the transient nature of locum work is compensated by an increase in wages. However, before switching to becoming a locum there are several issues to consider. Here we weigh up the pros and cons to help you decide – it may be time for a change!

The Pros

Locum positions pay very well comparative to permanent roles and offer more independence to organize your time as you see fit. It delivers more opportunity to travel, to gain experience in a variety of environments and work with an ever-changing group of veterinary medical professionals. Apart from honing medical skills the life of a locum helps to build a range of soft skills to allow you to adapt to a wide variety of personalities, situations and environments.

The Cons

Being a locum means more uncertainty: as quickly as a contract is offered it may be rescinded if the situation at the practice changes. Locums move around the country regularly potentially putting strain on family relationships and leaving little time for old friendships. Locums usually miss out on any employment perks such as private healthcare and CPD. Indemnity Insurance is also a consideration; whilst locums may be covered by the practice for the duration of a contract, claims made subsequent to the locum’s departure become their responsibility, leaving the locum financially responsible for legal costs and any reparations.

PetMedic Recruitment has both locum and permanent work for veterinary professionals and we see a lot of candidates moving between the two types of employment. Ultimately the decision rests with the individual to determine which path is right for them. Some love the freedom of locum work which frees up their time for school holidays, study breaks, etc, whereas some prefer permanent work for the security it offers and the familiarity ‘belonging’ provides. – Emma Hammond, Recruiter for PetMedic Recruitment.

  • PetMedic Recruitment has a number of vacancies for veterinarians in the Manchester area and for nurses in South London, Surrey and Kent. For details of these and all the other vacancies nationwide, please contact the team or send your CV to, or call 0845 057 5555.