Doctor stories
April 8, 2020
Locuming, surgery and Covid-19: Dr Lesina Nakhid-Schuster

In March 2019, Dr Lesina Nakhid-Schuster left her Auckland (New Zealand) home to live and work across Australia; “I wanted to travel a bit more and meet new people and I was looking for something more flexible. Locuming was perfect,” she says from her current placement in plastic surgery in Canberra.  

Dr Lesina’s now a huge advocate for locuming and the lifestyle it enables.

She says that doctors often don’t take enough time for themselves; “locuming is a really good opportunity to live your life a little bit. If you want to take a bit of time out and you don’t know how to, or you think it is not financially viable or you’re worried you’re going to miss medicine or not retain your knowledge, locuming is a really good option. You can take time out and locuming is there to help you do that.”  

It’s credit to Dr Lesina that she has been able to do the career she loves and to fulfil some of her travel and other dreams – particularly in what has been unprecedented times for doctors and other key services in Australia.  

Between locum jobs, she’s travelled across Europe, visited New York, spent time at her favourite travel destination (Bali) and even starred in Kiwi reality TV programme, The Bachelorette.  

“I took three months off to do The Bachelorette – I couldn’t have done that if I wasn’t a locum, because what other job would let you take that much time off?! We did 2.5 – 3 months filming and then all the publicity afterwards… it all takes time. I couldn’t do that if I wasn’t locuming.”  


Dr Lesina enjoying time off in Bali / via @dr_lesina Instagram

Dr Lesina missed the show’s season premiere in January to return to New South Wales to help other medical professionals in bush fire relief efforts. Then, about a week before the Covid-19 outbreak began to escalate, Dr Lesina began her current placement in Canberra.  

With the closure of New Zealand’s borders, Dr Lesina’s family were concerned and wanted her to come home early, to avoid getting stuck there when her placement finished.  

“I took this job the week before and then all of a sudden it escalated. I was here and New Zealand started locking down and I was stressing out for a minute because I thought I was going to be locked out of my home country. My job here finishes in May. But then I was told that New Zealand is still letting people return and that’s fine.”

She’s staying the course and is getting used to the new normality. The hospital is quiet as elective surgery and most others except Category Ones have been cancelled. Tele-consultations have become the norm and a lot of clinic appointments have been cancelled. One area that remains busy is Emergency and Dr Lesina says the presentations are quite different to ‘pre-Covid’ times…  

“We’re getting all these weird and wonderful hand and soft tissue injuries from saws and nails and animals… so we’ve become busier in terms of emergency.  

“It’s funny how Covid has hit everyone different. Before, we were going through a dry spell of circular saw injuries but all of a sudden, after Covid hit, there’s a lot of people doing DIY that they’ve put off for years. I think it is important that people are careful and remember safety… thinking about hand protection and checking that they know how to use their equipment appropriately, that sort of thing.  

“We’re getting a whole heap of cat and dog bites too (we’re the specialty that washes that stuff out). I think people are spending a lot more time at home playing with their animals and their cats and dogs are like, ‘what the hell? I usually get more time to myself!’”

Happy to help: Dr Lesina enjoys locuming / via @dr_lesina Instagram

Despite calls from her mum to head home, Dr Lesina says she’s happy to help out and is really enjoying her job.

Medworld, together with our recruitment partners, MedRecruit is calling for doctors to help out in roles like tele-health, on the Covid-19 front line and back-filling roles (as Dr Lesina is doing). In Australia, there is particular demand for specialities like ICU, emergency medicine and general medicine, among others, If you’re registered with your medical council and are keen to help, sign up here. Or jump to our home page to find out more.

Article by
Dr Lesina Nakhid-Schuster

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