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Locum Tenens Jobs for Physicians

By Emily O'Brien On Aug 24, 2022
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Employers need help when they’re short-handed or to cover staff while they’re taking time off. Locum tenens physicians filled these needs. They can also be useful during emergencies. Locum positions can be found in remote areas where the local pool of physicians can’t accommodate a vacancy, but openings can be found in larger markets as well. While hospitals and practices may contract directly with a locum physician to fill their vacancy, most often there is a third-party firm involved. These agencies help sort out extra details like living arrangements and travel and ensure the contract covers all parties’ needs.

Being knowledgeable, flexible, and having good bedside manners are both core competencies of a physician that translates well into the locum tenens world. People with confident spirits perform well in this area. Locum tenens jobs for physicians offer a way for doctors to not have to commit to a full-time role, if they don’t want to, but to keep their skills current.

The main point of physician locum roles is for the doctor to meet the practice’s needs, not their own. There is no need for physicians to participate in any extra facility meetings or get involved in office politics. This is a big draw for many—being able to only focus on practicing and not be weighed down by running a practice or the administrative side of the business.

Better work-life balance

Locum tenens assignments can help battle burnout. Positions allow for a greater amount of flexibility and autonomy and last anywhere from a day to a weekend to a year. There’s a great sense of freedom with assignments because physicians are never “stuck” in a role.

Burnout is a growing epidemic among clinicians, which can lead to medical errors and unsafe settings, according to a Stanford Medicine study. Since scheduling plays a part in increasing the risk of burnout, greater work flexibility can help tremendously. Locum tenens positions allow you to control your schedule. You can work hard for three months and then take several months off. You can choose to work on last-minute assessments, which are typically more lucrative, and you can essentially decide when, where, and how you want to work. You could also create a comfortable schedule where you end up working less than a permanent physician but bring home a larger paycheck.

Another perk: You can travel the globe while earning a lucrative living. Some physicians even take on locus assignments to create working vacations for themselves and their families. Assignments can be taken back-to-back, creating year-round employment.

Some physicians who find the locum’s lifestyle works well for them become full-time traveling doctors and use an RV for accommodations.

Locum tenens jobs for physicians work especially well for new graduates who are top of their game but don’t want to commit yet to a permanent facility. Some individuals might still be exploring where they want to live and what type of atmosphere they want to work in. Locum tenens assignments provide a way to test the waters without jumping in.

An uptick in pay and perks

Working locum tenens assignments is a smart way to supplement your income, whether you are looking to pay off debt, save up for a down payment on a house, or just want a little extra money to play. Certain factors impact pay such as the demand for the specialty, the type of facility and location, the types of shifts needed, and the patient load. According to Medscape, there are a few states, in particular, that pay provider better than others.

Locum tenens jobs for physicians, most of the time, pay higher hourly and daily rates than that of full-time salaried doctors at the same healthcare facility.

If you work with an agency, they usually cover additional costs like licensing, credentialing, privileging, malpractice insurance, travel, and accommodations. Yes, that’s right. Housing is usually covered.

Physicians get paid as independent contractors (1099) as opposed to employees (W2), which means they’ll want to select their health insurance since there won’t be any company-offered options to select from.

Increased networking opportunities

As doctors go out on assignments, they meet new colleagues and build their network, opening the doors to meeting new peers who have different specialties or subspecialties. It also can help physicians become better doctors by exposing them to different hospital systems and patient populations. Each town you work in will have something to work exploring.

Just like any position, there are downsides to this lifestyle. Every time you start a new hospital or practice, you have to learn a new system. If you are someone who is set in their ways, learning new practices regularly might feel frustrating and not worth the trouble. Your workflow might feel sluggish to start at each new place. If you have a family with children still in school or a partner who works in an office, it might not be the right season for this type of work. But for those where the timing is right, they may find after starting locum tenens work that they never look back.

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