Hobbies to Explore in Your Free Time as a Locum Doctor
If foundation training made you question whether a career in medicine is right for you, or made you feel burned out because your work-life balance was off kilter, then spending an F3 Year as a locum doctor can be a brilliant way to re-balance the scales and get to know who you are when medicine doesn’t take up 100% of your time.
Following on from our article ‘How to discover your passions in your F3 Year’, we have curated a list of hobbies you can try in your F3 Year if you are working as a locum, or working less-than-full-time and want to explore who you are outside of medicine. We also hear from Amelia - a current F5 locum doctor - as she talks about how she explored each of the categories once she started locuming.
Finding your passion can be tough, but the first step is testing out lots of different activities and ideas, and seeing what sparks your interest. If you aren’t sure where to start, then this list will help you pick a direction to start moving in.
As you go through this list, remember that you are not committing to anything long-term, but just testing the waters! It is better to try something you are curious about and find out whether you like it or not right away, rather than spending a decade mulling it over and then lamenting the lost time you could have spent doing something you love. And worst case scenario, if you try something and it turns out not to be a passion, then at least:
✅ You’ll have a better understanding of yourself and future directions to go in.
✅ You’ll have met some interesting people or made a new friend.
✅ You’ll have a good story to tell people.
💡 Inspiration List
What Amelia Said: ‘One of the things I missed the most during foundation training was feeling healthy and capable in my body. After years of long commutes, night shifts, sleep deprivation, and hospital food I was eager to take back control of my physical wellbeing as a locum doctor. By working less shifts and more regular hours, I was able to invest time in being active again. I decided to try an activity that was completely new to me: running. I used the couch-to-5K NHS app to start the hobby in a way that was safe on my joints and felt more like a game than exercise, and am proud to say I worked my way through the entire programme.’
👉 Try out a team sport like rugby, football, hockey, or basketball.
👉 Try out a racket sport like badminton, tennis, or squash.
👉 Try out a watersport like swimming, surfing, rowing, or wakeboarding.
👉 Try an activity like rock climbing, martial arts, yoga, or kickboxing.
👉 Try a fitness class like spin, Zumba, CrossFit, or aerial trapeze.
👉 Try a solo activity like running, hiking, cycling or kayaking.
👉 Explore rhythmic movement through dance, ice skating, or pole.
What Amelia Said: ‘Focussing on medicine and progressing my medical career for so long exhausted me, and I realised I was missing creative balance in my life. I have always been creative and when I didn’t have enough time to explore that side of me, I felt unhappy. After starting work as a locum, I joined an online writing community and made sure that my shifts never clashed with the Wednesday evening sessions. I love that I was able to protect my time and dedicate one evening every week to something that was important to me. It helped me create a much more sustainable balance in my life!’
👉 Pick up a new musical instrument.
👉 Attend an open mic night at a local venue.
👉 Attend a painting, drawing, pottery or sculpture class, or follow an online tutorial at home.
👉 Join a local theatre group or acting group.
👉 Explore photography and start capturing your surroundings.
👉 Try creative writing, poetry, or journaling.
👉 Try your hand at candle making or soap making.
What Amelia Said: ‘One of the things I missed about foundation training when I started working as a locum doctor in my F3 year, was learning new things. I’d enjoyed the prorgamme of learning that my foundation trust had put together, and missed feeling like I was growing my knowledge and skills. I decided to devote some time regularly to learning (which, of course, I needed to do for my F3 appraisal anyway) but this helped me to feel like I wasn’t stagnating. I did free CPD online, but also did a really fun free course on Roman Architecture on Coursera. Okay, so it wasn’t medical but it was enjoyable and I loved having the freedom to try it out!’
👉 Join a book club or set yourself a target for reading over the next few months.
👉 Attend a lectures, conferences, or seminars on non-medical subjects.
👉 Explore topics of medicine that fascinate you by attending online or inperson talks.
👉 Try a free online class on Coursera and learn something new at your own pace.
👉 Offer to participate in Audit or Quality Improvement to solve an issue at your Local Trust.
What Amelia Said: ‘Prior to starting medical school I was tri-lingual. I’d grown up in Europe and I spoke Spanish and French really wel,l but after years of not practising, I realised that I’d lost those skills. I eased myself back into languages by picking up some foreign language books which I’d enjoyed reading in English. I knew the stories well so it was easier to re-build my vocabulary when I encountered words I couldn’t remember. I’m not back to where I once was, but it’s nice spending time revisiting my past life, and trying to keep old skills afloat.’
👉 Join a local language class or group, or go on an immersion programme overseas.
👉 Read your favourite book in another language.
👉 Volunteer as a language tutor or mentor.
👉 Engage in translation or interpretation work for local organisations or events.
What Amelia Said: ‘When I heard about CodeAcademy - a free online coding course - I decided to try it out. It was fun for a while bit it didn’t sustain my interest in the long-term. I’m glad that I had the time and opportunity to give it a go.’
👉 Learn coding languages for free and explore software development.
👉 Build a website or start a blog on a topic of interest.
👉 Play around with robotics, 3D printing, or virtual reality. You may find that your local college has evening classes and resources that you can use.
👉 Attend a technology conference, or join an online community for an element of tech that interests you.
What Amelia Said: ‘Working long hours and gruelling shift patterns as a foundation trainee meant that good cuisine was usually neglected. Yes, some doctors are great with meal planning and meal prep, but that just wasn’t me. I love being a locum doctor and having the time to look after myself and think about my meals in a more considered and balanced way! Since starting as a locum, I’ve been able to go to loads more restaurants, I’ve done a cheese tasting course, and a couple of local foraging classes, I’ve learned how to make bread (it’s surprisingly easy and insanely delicious!), and have much more time for cooking and hosting generally. Even though some of my doctor friends have returned in training and have terrible rotas, at least my rota flexibility means I am more likely to be able to see them outside of work!’
👉 Take a cooking or baking class.
👉 Buy a cookbook and try out some new recipes you’ve never eaten before.
👉 Visit a local food festival.
👉 Start a food blog or create a YouTube channel featuring cooking tutorials.
👉 Enter a culinary competition or host a dinner party for friends and family.
👉 Grow some vegetables or herbs at home.
👉 Try a local foraging course.
👉 Learn how to make your own bread at home.
👉 Learn about wines, cheeses, or coffee in a tasting class.
What Amelia Said: ‘Working as a locum doctor meant I could maintain my F2 salary by working less hours. I was tired of having to cancel on friends last minute because I was exhausted, or stuck at work late. I didn’t want to miss more birthdays or weddings or Christmases if I could help it. Once I’d reduced my workload, I had more energy and time to see friends and family which was nice because they are all scattered across the UK (and the World) nowadays. I’m so grateful that I finally had enough time to visit my Grandfather who had been isolated from the family during the pandemic. He died a few months later so I am particularly grateful that locuming gave me the opportunity to spend so much time with him before he was gone.’
👉 Volunteer with a local charity or community organisation.
👉 Organise and participate in a fundraising event for a cause you care about.
👉 Engage in a mentoring or coaching program at your local school, religious center, or community center.
👉 As a solo traveler, join a tour group or stay in a hostel and strike up a conversation with a stranger.
What Amelia Said: ‘The pandemic hindered my F3 travel plans, but after a few months of locuming, I was able to save up quite a lot of money so that when the World did re-open I could take advantage. I love that locuming allows me to take off weeks in a row, which is something I couldn’t do in full-time employment. I was able to go to festivals in Scotland, visit family and friends, and on a big road trip honeymoon in America. I didn’t get to do the epic F3 travel adventure that I’d planned before the pandemic struck, but never say never! That’s the great thing about being am F5 locum doctor.’
👉 Go on a weekend trip to a local destination you’ve never been to before.
👉 Go on a quick getaway to another country.
👉 Go on a city break and explore it on foot.
👉 Go on an epic adventure and explore a whole country over a month or two.
👉 Volunteer for an international healthcare organisation.
👉 Join a travel photography group and document your experience while practicing a new skill.
👉 Attend a conference overseas. Bonus points if you are presenting!
👉 Travel to an event that you normally wouldn’t have enough time to go to, like a music or film festival.
What Amelia Said: ‘I’m no adrenaline junkie but even I wanted to live a little after I’d been cooped up on dark wards for two years, sometimes not seeing sunlight for days on end. I felt like I’d spent so long just surviving, rather than really living. I went camping, I hiked through the wilderness, surfed at sunset, rode motorbikes around an abandoned airfield, and did a horse riding trip with a doctor friend. I know, they are are hardly the most intense adrenaline sports, but it was enough to remind me how much I enjoyed living and how much fun there was to be had by pushing your boundaries a little.’
👉 Skydive, paraglide, or bungee jump to experience an adrenaline rush.
👉 Go wild-camping in one of the few places where this is still permitted in the UK.
👉 Try white-water rafting or swimming with sharks.
👉 Take part in a wilderness survival course or expedition.
👉 Plan a long-distance hiking or trekking adventure.
👉 Explore scuba diving or deep-sea diving to discover underwater wonders.
👉 Take a flying lesson, and if it goes well, try and get your pilot license.
👉 Go horse riding.
👉 Go on a ski trip.
Working as a locum doctor can offer better flexibility in your schedule, and a better financial situation compared to training programmes. This can give you more opportunity to try something new, or reignite an old passion.
We would love to know your thoughts on this, so please feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or comments about this article.