There many physicians in the United States who travel around working as locum tenens or “place holder” physicians. Much like traveling nurses, temporary physicians are becoming rather common. In fact, there are more than hundred agencies in the U.S. that find/provide locum tenens physician jobs to physicians who are willing to fill gaps in the schedules of full time physicians at hospitals.
So, here are some insights for physicians who happen to be curious about locums work but have not tried it yet.
Why work as a locum tenens physicians?
If you are good at adapting and are fond of traveling, then by working as a locum, you will be able to earn an almost 33% higher salary, which will include housing, professional liability insurance and travel covered. Additionally, you will not have any billing/coding hassles, staff management issues, or teaching responsibilities. You will be paid an hourly rate for a certain number of hours, while you can also negotiate overtime. You will be able to visit different parts of the country, and control the amount of work you do.
Can all physicians do locums work?
Locums work is particularly ideal for four specific kinds of physicians. The first are retired physicians and are no longer working in full time medicine, but still want to remain clinically proficient without getting burdened. The second are physicians who are seeking a higher salary, i.e. want to earn 33% to 50% than what typical physicians earn, and do not care about traveling or where they will have to live. The third are the physicians who already have a job or are juggling family responsibilities but still want to dabble in locums work and work part time. Finally, the last are the physicians who are just not able to continue working in a regular job for whatever reason. Even internists and specialists often do locums work.
Which locum’s jobs are worth considering?
When choosing locums tenens physicians jobs, it must always depend upon each individual’s own personal priorities and taste. Although most locums assignments can be chosen based on location, locums work can also chosen on the basis of circumstance.
Positive signs of a good locums opening:
1) The physician you are filling for is on paternity/maternity leave or needs vacation coverage. They are eager to return and are happy with their job.
2) A growth phase is in progress at the hospital and help is needed staffing new wards/wings/
3) The hospital is being operated in the black but enough physicians cannot be found to meet the needs of patients due to being located in a rural area.
Red flags to keep an eye out for:
1) No one is willing to tell you more about the assignment before you commit to filling the position.
2) The hospital fired the physician you are filling in for because he/she was incompetent or negligent.
It is true that different locums agencies have their own “corporate culture” and some pay far more attention to their physicians than others. However, physicians seeking locums work should not simply choose an agency that is offering them the best hourly wage because there is more to finding the right one. Over all, depending on a physician’s own individual circumstances, working as a locum tenens physician can prove to be quite ideal.