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The Pros and Cons of Locum Tenens Assignments

While many clinicians are familiar with locum tenens as a means to practice medicine, some may not fully understand the advantages and downsides.


If you’ve considered becoming a locum tenens provider, or if you’re just curious about what some of the benefits and perceived 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?

Whether you are new to locum tenens or you are familiar with it, here’s a very brief rundown of what locum tenens is:


A locum tenens clinician  provides temporary staffing support to a healthcare facility for a predetermined amount of time on a contract basis. The length of the assignment , pay rate, and scope of service  all vary based on the requirements of the hiring facility. 


There are some definite advantages to locum tenens work. Let’s dive into those first.


Pros of Locum Tenens

  • Financial benefits
  • Travel
  • Control over schedule
  • Try out different practice settings 
  • Focus on actually practicing medicine rather than the administrative details
  • Avoid physician burnout


Excellent Source of Income

Whether you choose to pursue  locum tenens full-time or prefer locums as a part-time option,  either choice should provide the income benefits that will best suit your needs. 


Travel The Country While Practicing Medicine

IF TRAVELING IS YOUR PASSION, locum tenens is a great way to explore the globe while earning income at the same time.  Not only can you enjoy new places, you can experience different practice settings and enhance your skill set. 


Decide When (& Where) You Work

The flexibility to decide which assignments you want to take and where you want to go is an obvious advantage of locum tenens.  


Develop Your Professional Skill Set

The ongoing availability of locum tenens assignments enables you to explore different practice settings and continually enhance your skill set, which in turn improves your marketability for future assignments. 


Focus on Medicine, Not Bureaucracy

When you work a locum tenens assignment, you have more freedom to focus on what really matters to you – practicing  medicine. You won’t be hindered by many of the administrative tasks facing clinicians in traditional practice environments.


Fight Against Physician Burnout

CLINICIAN BURNOUT continues to be a significant issue among medical professionals. The freedom and flexibility available with locum tenens can be the ideal solution that allows you to continue doing what you love – on your terms. Being able to set your own schedule 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

What are the possible downsides of locum tenens? 


Potentially Increased Tax Complexity

As a locum tenens provider, you work as an independent contractor.  Employment taxes are your responsibility and should be filed accordingly on your tax return.  


The important takeaway is that neither the facility you contract with nor your locum tenens agency will withhold the taxes  that a traditional employed job would. A qualified tax preparer can assist you with withholding questions and tax preparation as an independent contractor.


No Health Insurance

As a full-time locums provider you are responsible for your own healthcare insurance. It is not provided by the contracting facility or your locum tenens agency. If you are supplementing your regular job with locum tenens, you most likely have health insurance through your employer. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have appropriate health insurance coverage.


Time Away from Family & Friends

This may be considered a con  for individuals  with a family that  does not travel with them.


Local or drive-in opportunities may provide a good solution when available. However, time away from friends and family and your community should definitely be taken into consideration when considering locum tenens. 


Lack of Job Stability

While the compensation, travel and other pros to locum tenens are appealing, it is important to remember that the opportunities are temporary and you may experience gaps in your schedule that you wouldn’t encounter in a permanent job. 


The more open you are to different locations and assignments, the better your chances are of maintaining a schedule in line with your work objectives. 


Is Locum Tenens the Right Choice for Me?


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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 will be helpful in choosing whether or not locum tenens is right for you.

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