Whether you are a newly minted physician or a veteran, locum tenens positions may be the ideal career opportunity for you. From the Latin term for “placeholder,” locum tenens is a temporary position. Most health care facilities utilize locum tenens providers for many reasons (i.e. vacation coverage, increased volume, long-term needs, etc.). And with the physician shortage crisis, the need for locum tenens continues to rise. This has some powerful incentives for locum tenens providers, including:
- Free travel and lodging
- Limited administrative duties
- Top-notch compensation
- Flexible scheduling – you choose where and when you want work
- Tax benefits for being an independent contractor
- Enhance skill-sets while experiencing various healthcare settings
- Supplemental income – pick up a weekend or call shift for additional income
- Locum to perm opportunities – try it out before you commit long-term
- Travel the country
These are just a few reasons why more and more providers are choosing to work as locum tenens providers. If you have spent any time in the health care industry, then you know that the professional burdens can be overwhelming. A temporary—or a permanent—stint as a locum tenens physician can be a welcome change that helps you avoid burnout and reenergizes your love for medicine.
The Booming Locum Tenens Industry
If you are considering a locum tenens assignment, then it’s important to understand a little about the industry. Locum tenens physicians are increasingly a common component of hospitals and clinics in every region of the U.S. More than 94 percent of health care organizations used a temporary physician at some time in 2017, and more than three-quarters of these organizations employ at least one locum tenens doctor every month. The most sought-after specialties in the past year were primary care (36.7 percent), behavioral health (23.3 percent), hospitalist (22.2 percent) and emergency medicine (21.1 percent).
Choosing a Locum Tenens Staffing Firm
The first step to joining the locum ranks is to partner with a full-service staffing firm. Choosing a firm that is highly reputable, attentive to your needs and enthusiastic about preparing you for your first locum tenens assignment is not an easy choice. You may want to rely on the advice of a colleague who has experienced multiple firms, but it pays to do your own research. Here are some things to consider when looking into a staffing firm:
-NALTO Certification—make sure that any prospective firm is a member of the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO). NALTO members must meet a high ethical standard, and that ensures you are dealing with an honest broker.
–Malpractice Insurance—only do business with firms that include malpractice insurance in their assignment package. Most reputable firms will insure you as a matter of routine.
–Admin Paperwork—most staffing firms will have a team of experience staffers to expedite administrative duties like licensure, credentialing and hospital privileges. If a firm doesn’t offer this, you can find a full-service firm that will.
–Travel/Lodging—it may only be a minor perk, but the best firms will handle all of the travel arrangements for you.
Finding a Locum Tenens Assignment
Once you have decided on a staffing firm, it’s pretty simple to get started! If you have chosen to partner with a full-service firm like Onyx M.D., then here is what you can expect:
- STEP 1: Establish Job Preferences. Your recruiting consultant will discuss your ideal job preferences and long-term career goals (i.e. availability, length of assignment – locum/perm, desired schedule, preferred locations, etc.).
- STEP 2: Find a Job Match. Using your preferences, a custom search will be conducted to see if there is a match within the current jobs openings. If not, they should reach out directly to their client network to see if there are any potential and/or future opportunities. This should be an ongoing task until a match is found.
- STEP 3: Go to Work! Once submitted to a job and accepted by the client, you will receive a written confirmation with the agreed upon specifics to that particular assignment. Moving forward, the staffing firm will handle the rest! They should take care of any necessary privileging/licensing requirements and make all travel arrangements for you!