Stars, Stripes, and Stethoscopes: Meet Army Vet and Locum Tenens Ob/Gyn, Dr. Peterson
Answering the Call of Duty
Dr. Peterson’s unique locum tenens journey stands out from the thousands of providers who’ve selflessly devoted their lives to serving others.
As a former military man, he continues to passionately serve and protect America, but not in the armed forces – as a locum tenens physician. For the past four years, he has partnered with Interim Physicians to fill critical hospital scheduling gaps and deliver essential healthcare coverage as a locum tenens Ob/Gyn doctor in Texas.
Instead of taking a traditional journey through medical school, Dr. Peterson served active duty as an infantry officer in the Army throughout his 20s. He believed that the military wasn’t his forever career – that would become medicine – but his patriotic duties weren’t done yet.
After graduating college, Dr. Peterson decided to apply to medical school and attended Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. After completing his residency, he did a rotation in Del Rio, Texas, with a family practice doctor and found obstetrics to be an uplifting specialty that resonated with him. From there, he held a variety of positions in public health. He loved medicine and never expected to serve in the Army again.
But one Tuesday morning, Dr. Peterson turned on the news. Except, it wasn’t just any Tuesday morning; it was September 11, 2001.
After the attack on the Pentagon, the Army issued a call for help from those with military backgrounds, and commanders desperately needed doctors. Dr. Peterson decided to re-enlist and subsequently completed three tours of duty in the Middle East, serving as an Army reserve doctor in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait. When he returned to the States, he completed stints at Army hospitals across the country. Eventually, he officially retired from service but continued to practice medicine privately.
Finding Locums through Interim
Four years ago, Dr. Peterson found himself between permanent positions and wanted something to bridge the gap. Practicing “locum tenens” was always in the back of his mind—he knew that he could accept temporary assignments with different hospitals through a staffing agency—so he researched staffing agencies and gave Interim Physicians a call.
Even after Dr. Peterson secured permanent placement, he continued working locums on the weekends as a source of extra income. And the practice alternative is still helping him meet his goals today. Many doctors (especially those in the military) tend to have a workaholic personality type, but Dr. Peterson recognized the need to slow down and enjoy life.
“Interim Physicians did such an excellent job finding a convenient assignment close to my hometown,” says Dr. Peterson. “Now that I’m in my late 50s, I’ve decided that I don’t need to work quite as hard or put in quite as many hours as I have in the past. I would much rather spend that time with my wife… so I guess I’m officially semi-retired!”
Initially, locums served as a bridge between jobs. Eventually, it became a source of supplementary income. Today, working locums allows Dr. Peterson to create his own schedule and preserve precious time with his family.
A native Texan, Dr. Peterson has remained at his original locum tenens assignment in the Lone Star State for the past four years. However, he did get the chance to explore a new state and practice in northern Minnesota, although the snow and negative temperatures made it just a bit less exciting.
Every time Dr. Peterson steps into a hospital, he knows he is making a positive impact on direct patient care. Each shift he works means that one of his colleagues can take a well-deserved vacation and avoid burnout, or it helps better manage patient census fluctuations.
“The best part of locums is that it lets us focus on the part we all enjoy most – hands-on patient care. Like with any assignment, you have minor charting and documentation, but you spend so much less time on administrative matters. There are minimal headaches compared to practicing as a permanent doc. You really get to focus on your patients, which is just terrific.”
Acing the Assignments
Locum tenens assignments don’t always turn into consistent, long-term relationships. That’s what makes Interim Physicians different from other staffing agencies.
When Dr. Peterson initially called Interim, his recruiter Jackie Byrd (shown here) asked all the right questions to learn more about his practice preferences. Instead of sending him a list of jobs she needed to fill, Jackie searched for the perfect fit.
“Jackie must be really well connected,” Dr. Peterson laughs. “Because she found me these two great jobs in what felt like a matter of minutes. I secured the job an hour later. The whole team at Interim is organized, professional, and always impresses me. I would recommend them to anyone. I’ve been treated like a king for the past few years, and I know this is just the beginning.”