Within the bustling corridors of a Chicago hospital, Dr. Kaul’s medical journey began to unfold in ways he never anticipated. With roots stretching back to India, his path to becoming a physician was as much about crossing geographical borders as it was about transcending personal and professional boundaries.
As he navigated the rigorous demands of a prestigious residency program, Dr. Kaul discovered his innate passion for patient care. This passion would eventually guide him toward the dynamic world of locum tenens. This narrative of self-discovery and adaptability not only shaped Dr. Kaul’s career but also highlighted the unique benefits of locum tenens for physicians seeking balance and fulfillment.
A Passion That Crosses Continents
While Dr. Kaul was finishing medical school in his home country of India, his parents decided to move to the United States. He later went with them, took his licensing exams in America, and secured a spot in a sought-after residency program in Chicago, where he spent three years honing his training.
“I loved every second of residency. I was lucky to learn a lot from several excellent attendings and colleagues,” he pauses. “But even in med school, I never saw myself as a surgeon. I always pictured myself working directly with my patients and caring for them.”
Dr. Kaul believes that self-awareness is what led him to gravitate toward the hospitalist specialty—it fits his personality perfectly. (Hint: It’s also what later made him an ideal locum tenens candidate!)
“As a hospitalist, you address so many aspects of medicine,” Dr. Kaul explains. “You’re in the hospital with your patients from the start and help them through treatment. I’ve always been very caring, and I like to do things 100%, but I never realized how much that would benefit my patients until I started practicing hospitalist medicine.”
Discovering the Interim Difference
Like many other young physicians, Dr. Kaul jumped into traditional medicine post-residency, unfamiliar with any other possibility. For the next decade, he practiced three different methods: clinic-based, hospitalist medicine, and telemedicine. Dr. Kaul also served as an advisor for Optum, a division of UnitedHealthcare.
Then, in 2020, the introduction to locum tenens changed his medical career. Dr. Kaul admits that he was not sold on locums at once—the practice alternative was initially daunting. Since physicians have limited exposure to locum tenens, there are many logistical things to work out. What about malpractice insurance? Health insurance? How are they guaranteed enough shifts? He had all these questions and many more. He wasn’t afraid to pepper locum tenens agency recruiters with every one of them.
Some companies became flustered, even frustrated by Dr. Kaul’s questions. He accepted a handful of assignments with a few agencies, but they weren’t the best fit. Then, in 2022, Dr. Kaul finally connected with Bobby Cassidy, a recruiter at Interim Physicians (conveniently headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, where Dr. Kaul had recently moved).
“Interim stood out to me because they’re local, and Bobby’s approach was different. He gave me time to think and gave me all the information I asked for. That made the transition to locum tenens comfortable, and it’s where Interim distinguished themselves from all other agencies.”
Dr. Kaul continues, “Bobby checks all the boxes – he’s hardworking, genuine, professional, and he’s made everything effortless. I’ve never had to ask him about something twice. That’s how on-top-of-things he is. Plus, the rest of the team is top-notch. They all work so well in sync with their payments and paperwork. That’s how I like to work, so I appreciate it when others are sincere and match my effort like Interim has.”
Balancing Act: Family Comes First with Locum Tenens
Now that Dr. Kaul works exclusively with Interim Physicians, he continues to practice telemedicine and occasionally covers shifts in Wisconsin; however, he primarily works around St. Louis to maximize time with his family.
“When I worked as a full-time physician, I don’t think I ever fully checked out of the hospital. I was unconsciously always in work mode with never-ending paperwork,” Dr. Kaul reflects. “But with locums, I have the freedom to create my own schedule and prioritize quality time off with my family. Now, I often spend time with my kids, taking them swimming or playing tennis. I’m so grateful because I really don’t remember being able to do any of that before I found locums.”
In permanent practice, Dr. Kaul remembers how his colleagues were always stressed. Everyone was acutely aware of the impending burnout.
“I don’t think I fully saw it at the time, but now that I’m working locums, I realize I’m much less stressed. I’ve gotten rid of the extra baggage I didn’t know I was carrying, and I feel that weight off me. Looking back, I know I made the right choice for my family. I’m grateful I get to be present while my kids grow up without guilt.”
Although young physicians may feel some trepidation about exploring new hospitals, Dr. Kaul firmly believes that once you start seeing patients, all the uncertainty melts away.
“Now that I work locums, I get to truly focus on my patients. I enjoy going to new hospitals because every patient population is unique. As a locum, you’re always learning. You get to absorb how each health system approaches things and how different specialists provide treatment. It’s a great experience, and I wish more physicians were aware of the ability to work as an independent contractor.”