Emergency Medicine

Kelly Pettit, MD
Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician


Kelly Pettit grew up on a Native American reservation, one of only a handful of non-native kids at his school. Now, as a VISTA physician tending to Maori people in New Zealand, Kelly recognizes a familiar warmth from these indigenous New Zealanders. He feels he's come full circle in a way. Still, on occasion, Kelly takes brief US locum tenens assignments - he recently came back to take his oral board exams and added on a short locum tenens posting that took him to small Western US towns and an Indian reservation.

Married but with no kids, he doesn't feel any pressure to settle down. "The reason why I chose to do locums is because I wanted to go abroad. [Working through VISTA] is much easier - they do all the necessary paperwork and everything." Moving freely between vastly distant job sites is easy with VISTA handling all the details, so he sees no reason to choose one home. He says, "More likely we'll split it, spending time in both countries.

"My wife, Gayle, decided to go to nursing school in New Zealand. She's actually paying resident prices. One of the nice things about locums is the flexibility to do her graduate work anywhere and I will be able to find work wherever she goes. Then later, as a nurse and doctor team, we can go as a team and visit all the places we want to see."

For now, New Zealand is what they want to see. Kelly says, "What I like about New Zealand is there's so much to do and it's easily accessible. Outdoor activities and scenery are amazing. In a half hour's drive you can find anything."

Kelly and Gayle are immersing themselves in New Zealand's surfing, skiing, mountaineering, climbing, and kayaking, all within minutes of their beautiful beachfront home. A house like Kelly's, where he and Gayle can descend their deck stairs into the sand, grab their boards, and run into the glimmering surf, is a miracle - the equivalent in the States is beyond the reach of plenty of well-established doctors - but it's a side benefit of Kelly's locum tenens assignment. "Being able to live in my house on the beach is ..." Kelly's voice trails off and, one assumes, a particular wave has caught his attention, causing him to bliss out.

Kelly says the medicine is similar to what he was accustomed to in the US, but with one nice bonus. "Everyone is more appreciative in New Zealand than the typical U.S. patient," he says. "You get thank you notes, letters, they'll even come in a few days later and bring you a plate of food or something. New Zealanders are real nice people. Ask anyone who's been to New Zealand and they'll mention how friendly the people are."

New Zealand has universal healthcare; Kelly hasn't minded the change. He says, "It's interesting, I would have expected that the ER might be abused as primary healthcare because it's free while it costs 20 bucks or something to see a regular doc. But since you have pretty good coverage, everyone's got a doctor and they don't abuse the ER. Working in the ER has been less of a transition than I thought. I didn't have to change my practice very much. The medicine is similar and the people are so nice. In fact, I just decided to stay on."

While Kelly and Gayle have just signed on for another stint in New Zealand, they anticipate that someday they'll move on to explore another land. When asked what part of the world they want to visit next, Kelly replies, "We want to see the whole thing."

Sunao Moore, MD
Emergency Medicine


Sunao Moore, MD, board certified in emergency medicine, has been working with VISTA and living the locum tenens lifestyle since the fall of 2003. A native of Chicago, Dr. Moore earned a degree in business from Brown University and completed her medical degree at the University of Illinois, Chicago. In 2001, she completed a three–year residency program in emergency medicine at Martin Luther King Jr.⁄Drew Medical Center (operated by the LA County Department of Health Services) in Los Angeles. She worked as an independent contractor in several LA area hospitals while she prepared for her emergency medicine boards, which she passed in September of 2002.

For Dr. Moore, locum tenens and emergency medicine are a great combination. She chose emergency medicine because it moves fast, and, unlike many other specialties, the physicians are able to see a variety of patients and work with a variety of illnesses and problems. By adding locum tenens assignments to her experience base, Dr. Moore has been able to add even more variety-from big city hospitals to county medical centers.

As she has worked in hospitals in seven states, Dr. Moore has found her experiences with patients and staff to be very positive. Her background and experience have been welcome additions.

In addition to the professional experience, locum tenens offers Dr. Moore the lifestyle she wants at this stage of her life. Traveling all over the country and staying long enough to explore is very important to Dr. Moore, and she has been able to earn enough money to buy a condominium, accelerate the repayment of her student loans, and help establish her parents in their retirement.

Dr. Moore was approached by more than one locum tenens company, but she chose to work with VISTA exclusively, and she hasn't been sorry. "The VISTA scheduler and I just ‘clicked,' and I haven't needed to work with any other company," says Dr. Moore. "I have had great assignments, and VISTA has kept me busy while taking care of all the details."

For each new state, credentialing takes about two months. Dr. Moore supplied the basic information the first time, and after that, VISTA has handled the rest.

"There's no additional work on my end; my recruiter takes care of everything."

Dr. Moore is now on a six–month assignment in Hawaii, but she just returned from a four–week vacation in Brazil. VISTA's locum tenens program has allowed her to schedule her work time to provide larger blocks of free time so she can "see and really experience the world."

From Dr. Moore's perspective, she couldn't ask for a more perfect career choice than locum tenens. With every day, she can see that her experience as a locum tenens physician makes her better at her work, and the work is very rewarding. "Locum tenens helped me shake things up a bit from a professional standpoint. I didn't want to get too used to working in one place and seeing the same things day after day. It's been amazing to me to learn that different regions of the country have different kinds of ailments. I never would have experienced that if I hadn't tried locum tenens assignments."

On the personal and social front, locum tenens is a great fit for Dr. Moore right now. Wherever she has gone, she has been able to make friends and spend time with associates from the hospitals. And, she never fails to take time to go exploring, wherever she is. As a result, she has seen Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands as well as rural Kentucky–places she doubts she would ever have gone without her locum tenens assignments.

For the next three or four years, Dr. Moore expects to be working as a locum tenens physician with VISTA. By then, her loans will be repaid, and her parents will be settled in their retirement. She may try Doctors Without Borders for a while and she may not practice medicine forever. She may start a business, but even then, she isn't ruling out the possibility of working part–time in locum tenens. She has met a number of physicians with regular part–time practices who choose to augment their incomes and experiences with locum tenens assignments.

"Locum tenens is so flexible that whatever you plan to do, locum tenens can fit into your life."


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