After committing countless hours to study and completing coursework, spending years working as a resident, and finally earning a Board certification, you’ll be faced with an important decision that will impact you for years (or longer): will you pursue full-time or locum tenens work?
The answer to this question is dependent on many factors, such as:
These answers to these questions will no doubt impact where you live, your earnings potential, and the lifestyle you’ll experience as a healthcare provider.
While permanent positions have been the go-to choice for many providers entering the medical field, the demand for freedom and an ENHANCED WORK-LIFE BALANCE is causing many providers to give up their full-time hospital job for contract-based locum tenens work.
Locum tenens physicians provide contract-based work for hospitals that need more hospitalists. Essentially, if a hospital experiences a shortage of physicians, they’ll reach out to and work with a locum tenens staffing company to secure temporary providers.
As a locum tenens provider, you’ll partner with a staffing company to learn about new opportunities across the country.
Positions vary in length and can range from a few weeks to several months. You’ll get to select where and when you’d like to work, and the staffing company will handle all of the details (malpractice insurance, licensing, and travel expenses and arrangements) so that you can focus solely on providing quality patient care.
If you’re on the fence about where you’d like to take your career after residency, there are many benefits of locum tenens work that make it a lucrative option:
One of the primary considerations for providers choosing locum tenens is the flexibility it offers to work when and where you want.
As you’re learning more about where you’d like to end up long-term, locum tenens assignments allow you to explore various practice settings and geographic locations before making a commitment. Locums providers also aren’t bound to a standard work week; they can choose to take time off between assignments to pursue other passions, such as traveling, teaching, or relaxing with a good book.
It’s a common misconception that locum tenens assignments are always located in rural areas where no one else wants to live.
Opportunities are available in nearly every state, so you can explore the country while practicing your profession. If there’s a region that you’ve never experienced, it’s easy to add travel days to an assignment. From skiing in the Rockies to windsurfing off the coast of California, locum tenens work offers its providers endless adventure.
In many cases, locum positions pay more than an equivalent, full-time hospitalist position.
Locum tenens providers get paid by the hour regardless of how many patients are seen, whereas many hospitals pay full-time providers based on the number of patients seen. Come tax season, locum tenens providers also get an additional tax write-off for working as an independent contractor.
If you’re finishing your residency and you’re not sure what’s in store for you next, locum tenens might be the answer. The unique educational, professional, and personal opportunities that locums work has to offer, makes it an extremely viable option for providers regardless of where they are in their careers.
Think a locum tenens position is a good fit for you? Working with a locum tenens staffing agency can make the transition into this exciting career a smooth and streamlined process.
Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published on 9/2021 and was updated on 1/2023.