As with any career, one of the first questions a candidate has is “How much does it pay?” Locum tenens is no different.
In short, locum tenens pays very well. Providers who work locum tenens on a full-time basis can easily earn as much or more than physicians and nurse practitioners in permanent positions. Locum tenens pay is also directly related to the amount of work the provider puts in because they are paid on an hourly basis, whereas salaried employees are generally paid a flat amount, regardless of overtime.
The amount of money a locum tenens physician or nurse practitioner can earn really comes down to the amount of work he or she wants. Fortunately, there is no shortage of locum tenens work. According to the 2013 Survey of Temporary Physician Staffing Trends, at least 72 percent of healthcare managers surveyed indicated their facilities had used locum tenens physicians sometime during the previous 12 months.
Supply and Demand
With the physician shortage getting more drastic each year, the number of locum tenens opportunities is projected to rise. Anyone familiar with basic economics knows that as the demand for locum tenens providers grows, so too will locum tenens pay.
Here at Barton Associates, we have already started to see increases in locum tenens pay for many of our core specialties. For example, hourly rates for locum tenens emergency medicine physicians and hospitalists have increased about 30 percent over the last five years. Similarly, locum tenens primary care rates have increased about 20 percent in the last three years.
Part-time locum tenens providers who do locums to supplement their permanent positions also have a great opportunity to earn, particularly hospitalists and emergency medicine providers who can essentially double their annual earnings. The seven-on, seven-off schedule that these providers often keep makes them well-suited to pick up locum tenens work during their off days. If they can keep up the schedule, the potential for earnings is very high.
Of course, every assignment is different, and locum tenens physicians and nurse practitioners must work with their recruiter to negotiate a rate that works for them based on a number of factors including specialty, location, practice setting, patient volume, duration, and more.