Locum Tenens Provider Spotlight: Dr. Sima Assefi
On December 29, Consilium had the honor of hosting Dr. Sima Assefi, one of our partnering locum tenens physicians, for a talk about her experiences as a locum provider. Immediately following the presentation, Consilium partner and regional vice-president Landon Webb presented Dr. Assefi with Consilium’s first ever Distinguished Service Award. During her time with Consilium, Dr. Assefi has worked more than 4,000 hours at 22 urgent care centers and has treated more than 12,000 patients from rural areas. Completely aside from the life-changing work she does on a daily basis, Dr. Assefi has an inspiring personal story all on her own.
Though born in Tehran, Iran, Dr. Assefi attended secondary school in Kent, England, following political unrest—and eventual war—that necessitated she and her sister flee their home country. After completing secondary school, Dr. Assefi moved to the United States and earned her undergraduate degree in natural sciences from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. While in college, Dr. Assefi worked in bakeries, as a third-shift dispatcher at a taxi company, and later as a waitress and bartender to pay her way through school and help support her younger brother, who was still studying in the U.K. Upon her brother’s graduation, Dr. Assefi was then—at the age of 33— able to enroll in Eugenio Maria de Hostos Medical School in the Dominican Republic.
After completing her residency in family medicine and an extra year of OB/GYN training in the United States, Dr. Assefi took a permanent job in family medicine. She had been contacted by Landon about an urgent care position, but felt at the time that she did not have the necessary urgent care experience to take on that role. Unfortunately, soon after starting her permanent contract, Dr. Assefi was diagnosed with cancer and had to leave the new position while she underwent treatment. Following successful treatment, Dr. Assefi found that her previous role had been filled and instead took a permanent urgent care position at the insistence of the clinic’s medical director, who assured her that she was more than qualified for the position.
To add another twist in the road, that facility made the decision to close due to insufficient profits and Dr. Assefi was faced with yet another career change. Fortuitously, in early 2014 Landon again called Dr. Assefi at what she says was exactly the right time. This time, after beefing up her experience in urgent care, she was eager to accept Consilium’s offer.
Q: Why do you choose to work locum tenens?
A: Locum tenens allows me to practice medicine as I deem best. There is so much red tape in permanent positions, a whole lot of “Do’s and Don’ts” that do not always result in best possible care for each patient. Locums work provides me with more freedom to use my best medical judgement when working with patients. To me, everybody’s story is different, and a patient’s story influences the best method of treatment. I refuse to view patients as just “cases” that can all be treated with a one-size-fits-all approach.
Working as a locum can be lonely at times because you are always the new person and have not yet built rapport with the permanent staff. This is part of why it is so important to have an account manager who truly cares about you as a person, so that you always have someone to call if you need help or just a listening ear. One upside to coming into a new position as an “outsider,” however, is that you do not have to deal with any of the internal gossip that happens in the facility—it never involves you!
Q: Out of all the job offers you undoubtedly receive, why have you continued to choose Consilium time after time?
A: It’s really about the people. For me, it is the relationship I have built over time with Landon, my account manager. I love the fact that I have personal contact with ONE person who I can call or text while I am away from home and can get a response to any questions or concerns—or even just to vent if I need to. Landon works with me throughout each step on all of my assignments rather than me having to call or email several different people for issues with scheduling, vacation time, paychecks, or anything else that may come up. Landon has been my friend—and really like family—throughout my dealing with winding roads, unfamiliar surroundings, hectic shifts, and anything else life threw at me along the way.
I also believe Consilium chooses good places to send their locums providers. I like the facilities where Consilium has placed me—each clinic has taken good care of its doctors. Physicians get a lot of calls about locum tenens jobs, and we can tell the difference between salespeople who are only calling because they have to and those who genuinely care about our mission and about us as people. I genuinely believe that Consilium has our best interests at heart.
Q: How has working locum tenens with Consilium impacted your life?
A: Because of the greater flexibility in scheduling, I have been able to achieve my vision of the ideal work-life balance: I work hard, but I get to play hard too. For example, I can schedule six shifts all in one week instead of spreading them out over two weeks, which leaves time to attend CME (continuing medical education) conferences and travel the country a bit while I am at it. The flexibility also allows me to take vacations and see my family overseas, which generally is not possible with a permanent contract. After not being able to see my family for seven years during the war, this is incredibly meaningful to me.
I work very hard, but as a locums physician I have simultaneously been able to live. Through Consilium, I am able to continue the work about which I am passionate yet also live and love my life. Furthermore, if something is ever not working for me, I always have the option of change.
Interested in putting your medical expertise to work with Consilium, or in finding locum tenens providers to cover shifts at your facility? Give us a call at 877-536-4696.