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The Pros and Cons of Locum Tenens

Many physicians – if not most – are familiar with what locum tenens assignments are, though of those who are familiar with locum tenens work, some may not fully understand the benefits and downsides.


If you’re interested in becoming a locum tenens provider, or even if you’re just curious about what some of the perceived benefits and disadvantages are, we have put together this page to help you learn all about the pros and cons of locum tenens. 


What is Locum Tenens?

Chances are you know quite well what a locum tenens provider is, but some may be new to the idea. If you’re not quite sure what it is, here’s  a very brief rundown of what locum tenens is:


A Physician working a locum tenens job placement would be traveling to a hospital or medical facility that required their services and skill set for a predetermined amount of time. 


Pros of Locum Tenens

  • Financial benefits
  • Travel
  • Control over schedule
  • Try out new jobs
  • Focus on actual medicine, not the business side of it
  • Fight against physician burnout


Let’s take a closer look at each of these perceived pros one by one.


Earn Extra Income

Whether you choose to do locum tenens as a side job to earn extra income or pursue this full time, many people choose this path primarily based on the income.


Travel The Country While Practicing Medicine

Getting to see the world is an obvious plus, right? Not everyone loves traveling, but getting to see other parts of the country and explore is definitely something anyone could find enjoyment out of.


Decide When (& Where) You Work

While you won’t have direct control over every second of your schedule, being able to take placements and decide what you want to take and where you want to be is an obvious pro. 


Develop Your Professional Skill Set

With the many different jobs needed to be filled in, there is a high chance your skill set will allow you to be placed in different positions where you are needed. This gives you a great opportunity to try out different jobs in the medical field.


Who knows, you could find your next great calling in life all thanks to a locum tenens placement!


Focus on Medicine, Not Bureaucracy

When you work a locum tenens job placement, you have more freedom to focus on what really matters in medicine. You won’t have to worry about being bogged down by business administration tasks from practices.


Fight Against Physician Burnout

A change in routine can be a perfect remedy in fighting the infamous physician burnout. Being able to set your own schedule, as we mentioned before, and only work during selected times will go a long way in helping you prevent burnout.


Cons of Locum Tenens

  • Taxes
  • No Insurance
  • Time Away from Family
  • Lack of job stability
  • Travel


Now let’s talk about all of the cons of locum tenens work in a bit more detail:


Potentially Increased Tax Complexity

While working a locum tenen job placement, you have to account for your taxes when getting paid. This means that you are a contracted employee, and must file accordingly with your taxes.


This means that the hospital you work for, nor your agency will take out the percentage that a regular full-time job would, so you need to account for this by setting money aside to pay the difference come tax season.


No Health Insurance

For those physicians who choose to work Locum Tenens full time, they have the disadvantage of not having health-care coverage or benefits, unless they either retain their health insurance coverage through their regular practice (if pursuing locums in addition to their regular work) or unless they purchase it on the open market.


Time Away from Family & Friends

This isn’t necessarily a con if you are single, but for anyone with a family who does not travel with them, the extra income may not be worth the traveling and extra hours.


You should also take into consideration the amount of time it would take away from your primary residence. This would take away time from friends in the area, owning a pet, and becoming part of a community.


Lack of Job Stability

While the travel, pay, and other pros to locum tenens positions sound appealing, one thing to remember is that the positions are temporary. Working locum tenens placements means that you will be feeling temporary positions as they are needed.


This can result in lapses in time when you might not be able to find a job placement, especially if you are restricted to certain geographical areas. People that are willing to travel anywhere won’t run into this issue as much, but it is still something to be mindful of.


Is Locum Tenens the Right Choice for Me?


Man in Blue Shirt Pondering Something While on Laptop


We can’t say for certain if locum tenens is the right choice for you. There are many different factors to consider, and the answer is different for each person.


We hope that these pros and cons have helped you become better informed about locum tenens and that you are now closer to what you are deciding to do.

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