Last Friday, medical students across the country opened an envelope to find out where they will complete their residency program. In a few months, another envelope will be delivered to each student. Inside they will find a bill for their student loans. More than 86% of those medical students will graduate with an average debt of $162,000. And because medical residents make a relatively low salary, approximately $52,000, many will defer payment on their loans during their residency, making their total debt balloon to $200,000. Many of these new doctors will enter the workforce with debt that will consume a significant percentage of their income. And if history is any indication, the situation will only get worse. Tuition continues to grow. Between 1984 and 2004, the median tuition and fees at public medical schools has increased by 133%. At private schools, costs went up by 50%. Yet, physician salaries have not kept up with that pace. In fact, much of the debate around how to rein in healthcare costs includes reductions to physician payments. Thankfully, there is an option for new doctors who want to tackle their student loan debt, locum tenens. Locum tenens positions through Barton Associates offer highly competitive compensation, and many physicians find they can earn more money as a locum than as a permanent doctor in a private practice or hospital. New doctors can also save on extra expenses such as malpractice insurance and new state licensing fees, which are covered by many locum agencies. Locum tenens is also a great way for new doctors to explore new locations and practice settings without committing to a permanent position. They can sharpen skills and build a powerful CV that they can use to land a great career. For more information about locum tenens opportunities, check out the Locum Tenens Physician Jobs page at BartonAssociates.com.