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The Right Way to Choose a Locums Assignment: Understanding the How, Where & Why

If you’re reading this, you’re probably considering working as a locum tenens clinician. Locums assignments are a great way to add variety to your career and see new places, but before you sign up for your first assignment, there are a few things you need to know. 


In this blog post, we’ll explain what to look at when choosing a locums assignment and how to find the right one for you.


How to Choose a Locums Assignment

When choosing a locums assignment, it’s important to consider a few key factors. Here are four things to think about when choosing an assignment:

  1. Location
  2. Schedule
  3. Pay & Benefits
  4. Workload


  1. Location

Choosing the right location for a locum tenens assignment can be a difficult decision, but taking the time to select a locale that’s perfect for you can make all the difference in your experience. Location plays an important role in any medical assignment, and it’s essential to take into account factors such as quality of life, cost of living, local resources, and climate when selecting the right spot.


Quality of Life

When considering where to work, one of the most important things you should consider is quality of life. This includes not only access to amenities such as restaurants and entertainment venues but also access to healthcare services and other necessary goods and services.


Resources & Climate

Research the area before committing to a locum tenens assignment to ensure that there are sufficient resources available for your needs during the duration of your stay. Will you have access to specialized medical care, appropriate schooling for your children, etc? 


It’s also essential to consider factors such as climate when comparing locales. For instance, if you plan on doing outdoor activities or need heat or cold relief between shifts, then certain areas may be better suited than others based on their weather patterns.


Cost of Living

Another factor to consider when selecting an area for a locum tenens assignment is the cost of living. Depending on how long you plan on staying in one place, it can be beneficial to find an area where housing costs are not excessively high so as not to eat up too much of your income. It’s also important to take into account other expenses, such as food and transportation costs, to ensure that you don’t overspend during your stay.


2. Schedule

When considering locum tenens assignments, it’s important to keep the following scheduling concerns in mind:


First and foremost, consider the timeline for the assignment. Most assignments range from two days to several months, so you will want to ensure you have a clear understanding of how long the assignment will last before committing to it. 

Once all is agreed upon, it’s time for you to sign on and get started. Make sure all paperwork has been filled out accurately and keep track of all relevant information such as start date, end date (if applicable), timesheets, etc. so that billing goes smoothly at month-end or whenever payments need to be made/received.


Scheduling Conflicts

You should also pay attention to any potential scheduling conflicts with other jobs or commitments that you’ve already accepted during this time. Remember, a longer-term job may require more of your time and attention than a shorter-term job, so be sure that you’re able to commit to the full duration of the job before taking on a longer-term position.


Commute Time/Travel Expenses

Additionally, take into account any commute times associated with the position you’re considering. Depending on where your client is located and what type of transportation methods are available to you (public transit vs. driving), your commute could add significant additional time to your work day. Make sure to factor in travel expenses (e.g. – gas money) when calculating your net income from taking on this particular job, as this can quickly add up over time if you need to drive long distances for each shift. 


3. Pay & Benefits

The right compensation package can make all the difference in deciding whether a particular assignment is right for you. Whether you’re looking for short-term additional income or making a career move into locum tenens, there are many advantages to this type of work that you should factor in when deciding which position is best for you.


Unlike regular staff positions, many temporary assignments offer competitive hourly rates much higher than those of full-time staff physicians, allowing you to save more money for retirement or future investments. 


Another benefit of taking on a locum tenens assignment is increased flexibility. As opposed to a traditional job where vacation days must be requested far in advance and shifts must adhere to a rigid schedule, locum tenens gives you the freedom to choose when and where you’d like to work. Since many employers recognize the value of having access to experienced, on-call physicians during busy times or after hours – and are willing to pay for their services – you can pick up some extra shifts on weekends or holidays without sacrificing too much time away from your family or other interests.


As a bonus, many employers offering these opportunities provide travel reimbursement or accommodations, such as housing stipends that allow you to take on new assignments while reducing your expenses significantly. Some companies also provide malpractice insurance coverage at no cost, so you have fewer worries about potential lawsuits while working in different locations.


4. Workload

When considering a locum tenens assignment, it’s important to keep the workload in mind. It’s not just a matter of fitting it into your schedule or having enough vacation time to take on extra work – understanding the level of responsibility and intensity of each potential assignment can help you make a better decision for yourself.


The amount of work associated with a locum tenens position can vary greatly depending on the specialty, facility, and duration. A busy hospital may require more hours than a clinic or private practice, while an ongoing assignment may have more consistent hours than one that’s only for a few weeks.


Beyond time commitment, it’s also important to consider the environment and expectations for your assignment. In addition to clinical duties, such as patient care and medical documentation, you may be required to provide administrative assistance or serve as an internal mentor/consultant while at your new facility. This could include teaching staff about policies and procedures or developing programs to improve overall patient outcomes. Asking questions ahead of time will make sure that you understand what’s expected of you before you accept an assignment.


How to Find a Locum Assignment

Once you have an idea of what kind of practice setting interests you, it’s time to start researching potential opportunities. The internet is one of the most effective places to begin your search, as there are many websites dedicated specifically to listing locum assignments. Locum tenens agencies specialize in providing clinicians with available positions and often offer competitive pay rates and benefits packages. Additionally, many hospitals post open positions on their websites, so it’s worth checking these out too. 


In addition to conducting online searches, networking is another great way to find locum assignments. Reach out to colleagues who may know about open positions or might be able to put you in contact with people who do know about openings that aren’t posted publicly yet. Connecting with current and former medical students can also help you find leads on available jobs since they may have information on upcoming vacancies that haven’t been advertised yet.


The Application Process

Make sure your license is valid for the state where the position is located before submitting applications (this is one thing many locum tenens agencies can assist with). Additionally, make sure everything has been clearly outlined, such as salary expectations and benefits packages, as well as the length of the contract and other details related to the position – don’t sign anything until all questions have been answered satisfactorily.


Ready For an Exciting Future as a Locum Provider?

Ultimately, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons associated with each opportunity so you understand exactly what kind of commitment will be required from start to finish. 

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful! If you’d like to learn more about locum tenens, visit our resources page.

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