There are many reasons physicians choose to do locum tenens work. Some value the independent, adventurous lifestyle, while others are interested in the monetary advantages.
Whatever the reason, locum tenens can be a great fit for many physicians. Here are just some of the top reasons why thousands of physicians work locum tenens jobs every year.
Pay Off School Debt
The average medical student graduates with more than $190,000 in debt. That’s a tough way to start a career. Luckily, young doctors can take advantage of the high earning potential of locum tenens to pay down their school debt. This is especially true for hospitalists and emergency medicine physicians who work a seven-on seven-off schedule. Some will schedule locum tenens assignments for their “off” days, essential doubling their earning potential.
However, you don’t have to be in one of those specialties to benefit. 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.
Read more about how it pays to be a locum tenens provider.
Travel and locum tenens jobs go hand in hand. Last year, Barton Associates placed physicians and nurse practitioners in jobs in 47 states. When you travel as a locum tenens provider, everything is generally covered including plane tickets, bag fees, rental cars, and accommodations.
For many of our locums, traveling is their favorite part of their job, and they take advantage of it in order to visit places they have always wanted to see. For example, Dr. James Rohan, a locum tenens physician, has made it his goal to visit all the nation’s national parks, while working locum tenens assignments. Read more about Dr. Rohan here.
Locum tenens physicians are independent contractors, which means they are free to work when and wherever they want. They are free from the office politics and bureaucratic headaches that come with working a permanent position so they can focus on what’s important, treating their patients.
Unlike hospital-employed physicians, locum tenens physicians also do not need to worry about being laid off. In a healthcare marketplace where hospital mergers and acquisitions are becoming more common and cost reduction is a top priority, hospital employment can be anything but stable. On the other hand, the demand for locum tenens providers has remained stable for the last six years, and will continue to be so due to the impending physician shortage.
Locum tenens physicians also don’t have to deal with the high overhead costs and regulatory requirements that make it hard for private practice physicians to balance practicing good medicine and good business.
Try Before You Buy
If you are thinking about moving to a new area or practicing in a different setting, you can use a locum tenens job to test the waters before you commit. This is a popular option among younger doctors who are fresh out of residency, who use their time exploring various locations and settings first-hand before settling down. It’s also a good option for doctors who may not be satisfied with their current situation and want to test whether the grass is greener elsewhere.
Stay Active During Retirement
Locum tenens is a great option for the older physician who wants to reduce his or her hours without completely giving up medicine. With their families grown and fewer obligations keeping them close to home, these physicians can take advantage of the flexibility of a locum tenens career, allowing them to pick when and where they want to work and for how long.
Many physicians have also taken the opportunity to practice in new locations, giving them new perspective and in some cases renewing or reinforcing their love of medicine.