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Perspectives on the locum tenens industry

From Pharmacist to Hospitalist: Meet Locum Tenens Physician Dr. Weinstein 

Like many young kids, Dr. Weinstein declared early on that she wanted be a doctor when she grew up. Her family had other ideas. They wanted her to pursue a career that was more conducive to the life of a woman with children, one with more consistent hours. “Become a pharmacist,” they urged. 

She begrudgingly accepted their guidance. Eventually, though, her heart tugged her back to medicine. She knew deep down that becoming a physician was the only way she would truly be happy. It took years and several harrowing twists and turns along the way, but today, Dr. Weinstein is a full-time hospitalist who accepts locum tenens assignments in the Midwest with the help of Interim Physicians. Her career trajectory proves that passion and perseverance are often all you need to fulfill your dreams.  

Terror at Home

After completing pharmacy school in Israel, she began her career and started a family in her home country. Unfortunately, although the first Persian Gulf War ended, the social turmoil didn’t. And when she became a wife and mother, her perspectives and priorities shifted.

Whenever an explosion occurred, her heart pounded. She found herself frantically checking posted names and contacting family members and schools to make sure everyone was safe. She and her husband knew with every fiber of their beings that they couldn’t raise their family in such conditions. So they took a bold leap and moved to the United States in 1997.

In addition to a safer home for her family, she hoped her career prospects would also blossom in the States. She desperately tried to get out of retail pharmacy; she took a class at UCLA, then moved to Massachusetts and spent a year at Harvard. She then earned her MS in Pharmacology at Northeastern University. After passing her foreign pharmacy boards in 2000, her family moved to Maine, where she worked as a pharmacist. There, everything changed. 

A Lifechanging Diagnosis 

One night, she was working at the pharmacy when a couple came in. The man explained that his wife’s leg was severely swollen after a long flight, but the ER had sent them home without even examining her. He described her symptoms and asked Dr. Weinstein for advice. She listened intently and expressed her belief that they needed to be seen at the ER right away. She suspected his wife could have a life-threatening clot in her leg.

Hours later, the man came back with tears in his eyes. They went to a different ER and Dr. Weinstein was right; his wife had deep vein thrombosis. Now, he had returned to fill the prescription for an anticoagulant that may have saved her life. At that moment, she knew she belonged in medical school. 

“Sometimes there’s a person who really makes a difference in your life,” Dr. Weinstein says. “That couple gave me the confidence I needed to finally put my dreams first. Thankfully, my husband encouraged me to do whatever made me happy. So, I applied to one medical school in Maine while doing my PharmD with three kids,” she laughs. “I figured if God really wants me to be a doctor, I’ll get accepted. And well, I guess God wanted me to be a doctor!” 

"That couple gave me the confidence I needed to finally put my dreams first. Thankfully, my husband encouraged me to do whatever makes me happy. So, I applied to medical school while working as a full-time pharmacist with three kids"
Dr. Weinstein
On Attending Medical School

From Pharmacist to Physician 

In 2006, she attended school during the day, worked at the pharmacy on weekends and during vacations, all while raising three children—then aged five, 10, and 12. Although she was stretched thin, her heart was fuller than ever.

“All I can say is that you really have to want it,” she says emphatically. “I’m blessed because my husband and kids were the wind beneath my wings. They lifted me up throughout medical school.” 

After graduation, the Weinsteins moved to New Jersey, where she completed her residency and internship. She fell in love with hospital medicine despite her original gravitation toward surgery.  

“I had always wanted to be a surgeon, but during my surgical rotation, I realized that I’d be performing the same procedures over and over again. I remembered how much I love using my brain and working through the diagnosis side of medicine. That fateful night in the pharmacy came back to me. And of course, it didn’t hurt that all my colleagues kept pushing me toward hospital medicine!”

So, she officially became Dr. Weinstein, and the family moved to Indiana, where she was licensed and started her first permanent job.

“I had always wanted to be a surgeon, but during my surgical rotation, I realized that I’d be performing the same procedures over and over again. I remembered how much I love using my brain and working through the diagnosis side of medicine. That fateful night in the pharmacy came back to me. And of course, it didn’t hurt that all my colleagues kept pushing me toward hospital medicine!”
Dr. Weinstein
On Hospitalist Medicine

An Inbox of Opportunity 

Despite her fulfilling one of her dreams, Dr. Weinstein now faced hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt along with three growing children. Her husband was self-employed, so it was crucial that she maintain benefits with a permanent job.

“I went to medical school later in life. I got into a lot of medical school debt, but that’s because I wanted to take care of patients,” she reflects. “At the end of the day when I go home, I carry my patients with me.  That’s not something you can leave in the office; it’s there in the back of your mind all the time. But then you still have a family to care for, and you still have children to support.”

In 2013, Dr. Weinstein began receiving emails pitching locum tenens assignments in which she could temporarily cover shifts for other physicians and earn extra money (ahem… med school debt). The idea felt alluring, so she acquired additional licenses in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio and soon embarked on her “locums” journey. She would maintain her permanent job but also work locum tenens at nearby facilities. 

In 2020, she became aware that severe shortages induced by COVID-19 had boosted demand for locum tenens providers. As she scrolled her latest assignment opportunities, Dr. Weinstein spotted an opportunity with Interim Physicians requesting urgent coverage in Indiana. That short assignment whetted her appetite for more. Dr. Weinstein’s recruiter, Lauren Roberts, helped her find another opportunity one state over in Ohio.

Dr. Weinstein covered every shift the facility could provide. This assignment had been the most rewarding for her, and her Interim recruiter earned much of the credit.

“When you work locums, you’re often going to a brand-new place, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. You really need someone you can trust, and Lauren is that person for me,” Dr. Weinstein explains. “For other companies, I’d work a week and maybe love the hospital, but when I needed something, my recruiter wouldn’t be there for me. With Lauren, I know that would never happen. They have my back no matter what, and that’s why I take jobs with Interim over others. Lauren really cares about me.” 

Dr. Weinstein primarily works locum tenens to help offset family expenses, but she also recognizes the practice alternative’s flexibility. Now that her children are older and more independent, she’s starting to enjoy several other benefits of the locum life.

“Usually when you work, you work in a static location. But with locums, my husband and some of our dogs (they have over seven!) can come with me. When we travel, we find neat restaurants, explore new places, go to fairs, and just get a chance to spend time together and check out new places,” she smiles. “Locums gives us that freedom.” 

She continues, “I’m also keeping my skills sharp, learning new EMR systems, learning from different doctors, and exploring new practice environments. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor and here I am making a difference in so many different hospitals. Locums is a gift.” 

“When you work locums, you’re going to a brand-new place, and you don’t know what’s going to happen. You really need someone you can trust, and Lauren is that person for me. She has my back no matter what, and that’s important. That’s why I take jobs with Interim over the others. Lauren is awesome and I know she really cares about me.”
Dr. Weinstein
On Working with Interim