Locuming as an SHO in 2023: Which Specialty Has the Most Work?
When working as a locum Senior House Officer (SHO), you'll want to have as much selection of job opportunities as possible. To make this happen, it's helpful to be aware of which specialties tend to offer the most locum work.
Here at Messly, we help doctors find locum work from the very best locum agencies. In 2021, we saw over 40,000 individual locum jobs offered on our platform, 23,000 of which were for SHOs.
To help you understand which specialties offer the most job opportunities for locum SHOs, we’ve done a deep dive into the stats and crunched the numbers for you here.
🧮 The Data
In total, 22,940 locum SHO jobs were added to Messly in 2021, across 56 different specialties. The chart below breaks down these roles by specialty, and you can see the exact number of jobs within each specialty by hovering your mouse over the graph.
Please note, these numbers are based on the data collected from the Messly service, therefore the total number within each speciality, although proportionately reflective, will be higher.
Locum SHO Jobs by Specialty
Note: This chart only includes specialties which had a minimum of 100 UK-based jobs in 2021
The specialties with the most work available
The top three specialties with the most available work are General Medicine (5,414), Emergency Medicine (3,815), and Acute Internal Medicine (3,186). Together, these three specialties accounted for 54% of all available jobs that year, and we’re continuing to see a similar trend of popularity in 2022.
If you look at the next five most common specialties for SHOs, these were General Surgery, General Psychiatry, Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgery, Geriatrics, and Paediatrics.
These eight most common specialties account for over 80% of all the SHO locum work on Messly. With that in mind, you should consider working in at least one of these specialties if you’re looking to maximise the amount of locum job opportunities you have to choose from.
For further insights, don't miss our related article, SHO Locum Rates: Which Specialties Pay the Best?
The specialties with the least work available
There are certain specialties where there just aren't that many job opportunities available for SHOs. These tend to be Radiology, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Occupational Medicine, Public Health Medicine, Infectious Disease, and Max Fax. In fact, all these combined accounted for less than 0.5% of all the SHO jobs on Messly.
If you’re fortunate enough to have worked in a Trust that offered these specialties before, you can try to arrange a locum, bank, or trust grade role with them directly. However, in most cases, if you’re interested in pursuing these specialties, it’s wise to look for Clinical Fellowship jobs instead. Keep an eye on the NHS Jobs website, especially from around May to June each year, to see these come up.
We also get asked by many SHOs about locuming in a GP practice. Unfortunately, unless you've completed your training as a GP, this simply isn’t allowed (and you could actually get into a lot of trouble doing this).
If you want to see a breakdown of locum SHO jobs by region, read our article, Do Locum SHO Rates Vary Across the Country?
✨ Our Tips For Securing More Locum Work
Working as a locum doctor can be tough if you find yourself in a position where you need to work more regularly than you're currently able to. Whether you're looking to earn more money, or just want to be working on a more regular basis, here are some helpful tips to increase your locum opportunities.
Be as flexible as possible
When it comes to locuming, the more flexible you can be the better. If you’re willing to work anti-social hours, such as weekends, night shifts, and on-call shifts, you’ll be able to find more work. You’ll also be in higher demand as a locum, which will allow you to command higher rates for your services.
Being flexible with the locations you work in will also give you a wider range of job opportunities, as you'll have more areas to choose from.
Make sure your CV stands out
If you want to succeed as a locum, one of the most important things to do is ensure your CV stands out from the competition. Make sure your CV is fully up-to-date, and always tailor it to be specific to each role and specialty you're applying for at the time.
As doctors, most of us tend to be quite poor at writing CVs, so to make this easier for you we've produced a detailed guide to writing an outstanding CV for locum doctors.
Cast a wider net
An easy way to tap into a wider range of locum shifts is to work with a number of different locum recruitment agencies and staff banks.
Each agency will have slightly different access to shifts and hospitals, so we’d recommend signing up to at least two or three to have plenty of choice. It’s also a good idea to join one or two staff banks. Locum shifts with staff banks tend to be more ad-hoc, but they'll still give you a chance to pick up some extra local shifts any time the number of opportunities your agencies provide temporarily falls.
For a full deep dive into how to maximise your locum rates, read our related article here.
Start working in a new specialty
If you're considering locuming in a new specialty to be able to increase the amount of opportunities available, we’ve written helpful guides to help doctors prepare for their first shifts in each one.
🎯 How Messly Can Help
Messly is a faster, simpler, and more transparent way to find locum work. We make the very best locum agencies compete to find you the work you want.
How does it work? Firstly, you create your profile in the app, and specify exactly what kind of locum work you want, what rates you expect, how far you’ll travel, whether you’ll work anti-social hours, and more. It works for doctors of all grades, across the whole of the UK, for work in the NHS and private sectors.
You’ll then receive offers of locum work from locum agencies. You see real shifts with hospital details, rates, and rotas, all matched specifically to your preferences, plus ratings of those agencies from other doctors.
You can then choose which shifts you want to accept, using the app to compare rates and travel distances, and reading the recruiters’ pitches to you.
When you see an opportunity you like, you can then schedule a convenient time to speak to the agency. Only then do you share your contact information, and only ever with the agencies you’ve selected, so you won’t get any unwanted emails or phone calls.
We’ll then help you through the registration process, so you can start working quickly and without any hassle.
By giving you access to locum work from all the best agencies, you stand a much better chance of earning the highest rates, with less travel, and your pick of departments.
🔎 Notes on Methodology
The data above is based on an analysis of locum jobs added to Messly since January 1, 2021. Jobs are only added by pre-vetted locum agencies who have been approved to join Messly. Each job is added with a lower rate and upper rate to show the range within which the job pays.
Before jobs are added to Messly, they're checked by our team, and erroneous rates are investigated so jobs can be removed if their rates can't be verified.
The data in this chart shows the average of the lower and upper rates, to give the most common pay range available for each specialty.
Only specialties with more than 100 shifts have been added to the chart. GP data is not included due to our low sample size.
This article is part of our Locum Data Hub, a collection of data-driven guides and resources that explore the numbers behind locuming, helping you solve challenges with things such as pay, budgeting, job searches, and much more.
For a comprehensive list of articles designed to support you as a locum doctor, visit our Locum Doctor Hub for everything you need to know about locuming today. Covering areas such as getting started as a locum, finances, understanding your rights, and many more.
Additionally, if you're considering an F3 year, you might also find it useful to look through the selection of resources we've put together in our F3 Resource Hub.
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