Eighteen years ago, Dr. Batista was just finishing medical school. He was unsure of the next steps in his journey and where it might end up taking him. Little did he know that this medical training, coupled with the Latin phrase “locum tenens,” would help him years later as he would go on to save countless lives during a global pandemic. Today, his impact continues with the help of Interim Physicians.
A Critical 14-Day Window
After completing his Internal Medicine residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in 2009, Dr. Batista found himself at a crossroads: continue his medical training or prioritize time in his home country with his extended family? To honor the latter, he returned to Puerto Rico for a few years. But Dr. Batista couldn’t shake what he felt was his calling. So, he re-applied for a pulmonary critical care fellowship in the states. He completed another pulmonary fellowship in Puerto Rico, before venturing back to the United States to complete the critical care fellowship in Louisiana.
Finally, he began the search for the right job (and home). Dr. Batista and his wife sought a careful balance of a big city with a smaller, community feel. He says this led them all the way to Texas—the perfect fit.
And for the last seven years, Dr. Batista has seen patients and served as a partner in one of the largest pulmonary critical care groups in North Texas. Although he’s busy juggling administrative duties in addition to seeing his patients, Dr. Batista has two weeks off each month. And in the summer of 2020, that precious time became a lifeline.
The Flooded Inbox
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, locum tenens staffing agencies desperately searched for physicians to fill empty hospital shifts. Dr. Batista received countless emails; it was overwhelming. Although he’d never explored locum tenens before, he started digging for more information.
“My friends in New York told me they had neurologists operating ventilators because they didn’t have any pulmonologists. It was heartbreaking. I realized there was such a dire need for physicians like me to travel to different hospitals, and I have two weeks free every month,” he says. “That’s when it clicked. I knew that I needed to help.”
Dr. Batista embarked on his first locum tenens assignment in El Paso, where the local hospitals grappled with limited resources and an increased demand for medical professionals. He says he picked up as many shifts as he could, and never looked back.
“I really wanted to go somewhere that needed me,” Dr. Batista remarked. “Despite the unknowns and the fact that COVID-19 felt like a warzone, we saved so many people. I received a feeling of overwhelming gratification and happiness to have had the right skills to save people’s lives. I felt like a beacon of hope during such a dark time.”
Going Steady with Locums
Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Batista continued working full-time and filling his time off with locums. As the need slowed, he wasn’t quite sure where locums would fit in his future, but he knew that he wanted to find a place for it. Thankfully, Interim Physicians was there to help him make room for these locum tenens opportunities.
“Out of the blue, I got a call from Joey Bradshaw, one of Interim’s recruiters,” Dr. Batista explained. “I was so impressed by his professionalism, and we clicked right away. He happened to have a program in San Antonio that needed ongoing coverage. It was such a great fit, and I’ve developed wonderful relationships with the staff there,” he said with a smile. “That’s why I’m still here a couple of years later.”
Joey took the time to ask what Dr. Batista really wanted out of a locum tenens assignment. He didn’t want to work a few shifts and be done; he wanted to be part of something bigger and develop a sense of community with both the hospital and his patients.
“Some locum companies only see you as a vehicle for financial success, but that’s never been my experience with Interim. That’s why I don’t work with anyone else now. Joey and Interim have been fantastic since day one, and I could not be happier with the personal relationship we’ve built,” he says, taking a brief pause. “To successfully do locums on the side, you need a right-hand person to count on and trust to take care of you. That’s exactly who Joey is.”
Your Career Advocate
Once you’ve found the right recruiter, Dr. Batista believes practicing locum tenens can easily fit in any stage of your career.
“Locums is a great experience if you want to make some extra income while fulfilling a critical need,” he explained. “You get to meet new people, you get to travel, and at the end of the day, you get to do what you like to do without extra administrative burden. What’s not to love about that?”
From New York to Puerto Rico, and now in Dallas and beyond, Dr. Batista’s unwavering pursuit of his calling has left an indelible mark on the lives he’s saved. And he’s just getting started.
“I see locums as a permanent part of my medical career. It’s so much more than the extra income,” he says. “Even if San Antonio runs out of work, I know that with Joey’s help, I’ll find another hospital that will allow me to continue making an impact on their community.”