Post-Residency Plans: The Benefits of Locum Tenens

Post-Residency Plans: The Benefits of Locum Tenens

Jul 28, 2020 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

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During these trying times, more healthcare employers are using locum tenens to hire physicians and other medical staff to compensate for worker shortages. While most physicians post-residency tend to pursue continued employment on their current healthcare institution or start their own private practice, some would go on a less-traveled path of locum tenens.

What is Locum Tenens?

Taken from a Latin phrase which means “to hold the place of”, The National Association of Locum Tenens Organization describes the practice of locum tenens as doctors who have “contracts with recruitment agencies to perform medical services for a healthcare organization over a certain period of time”.

The way it goes is that the physicians would work as independent contractors. They’re paid through their staffing agency instead of being paid directly from the healthcare facility.

There are a lot of reasons why healthcare facilities hire locum tenens physicians and practitioners. In fact, in a survey conducted by Medical Economics, there is a steady trend of the rising number of hospitals employing through locum tenens. Almost 90% of healthcare facilities in the United States practice this kind of hiring.

The Benefits of Locum Tenens

If you’re about to finish your residency and started considering your career path afterward, there are a lot of benefits when pursuing locum tenens as a physician. The only proof that you’ll ever need is that the industry of locum tenens continuously grows as more physicians choose this way of medical practice. In return, healthcare organizations highly value the importance of staffing through locum tenens.

Here are some of the key benefits that await you once you pursue locum tenens:

1. Flexibility

On the same survey conducted by Medical Economics, most of their respondents who are physicians ranked flexibility as the biggest draw when it comes to working locum tenens.

That is particularly true for almost every physician and practitioner who decided to pursue locum tenens. This kind of lifestyle offers the rare chance of being flexible when it comes to your medical practice. Schedule flexibility is incredibly rare for physicians who are employed under an institution and for someone who would want to take things down a notch after a grueling residency, that could be hard to do as a full-time employee.

By practicing locums, you have the ability to create your schedule, choose which assignments to take, the location of your practice, and for how long. It’s the best option for someone who has commitments outside of practicing medicine, whether it’s for exploring other interests, family duties, or for those who are simply looking for a better work-life balance.

2. Autonomy and Independence in Medical Practice

Following the survey, more than half of the respondents valued the absence of “politics” found in permanent positions.

Working locums means that you will have a degree of independence in your medical practice. While that could mean exercising more self-control and management, having career independence is crucial for you to have the ability to further your career advancement. Physicians tend to put down their roots because of their high emotional and financial investment to their practice and that might cause them to lose certain opportunities outside their institutions with much higher stakes like compensation and schedules.

But when pursuing locums, you’ll have the means and ability to choose from a greater range of job variety. Opportunities are easier to find instead of normally waiting for them.

3. Increased Patient Time

No physician ever would tell anyone that the best part of being in the medical field is the administrative duties of filing up paper works.

The most rewarding part of pursuing locum tenens is the ability to practice “pure medicine”. That means less administrative works and more patient time. A physician under locums won’t have to worry about paper works unlike those who are direct employees of an institution. In turn, you’ll have a much better sense of personal fulfillment in your work because you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people and treat a much broader array of patient cases.

4. Great Way to Supplement Income

Most physicians and practitioners who work locum tenens do so to supplement their income by picking up extra shifts on the weekends or vacations. It’s a great hassle-free way to add income compared to picking up a private practice. That way, you’ll be more financially stable and free to pursue your financial goals or pay off your loans from studying medicine.

But, locums is not just a sideline for a great number of physicians. Beyond using this as a way of earning extra income, many physicians consider locum tenens as their full-time option. It’s similar to having your own private practice but without the stress and the responsibility of building and maintaining a business. In fact, a lot of job options offered through locums are much more financially viable. One paycheck of locums work can easily cover up to three months’ worth of salary from being a full-time employee at an institution.

5. Endless Options for Job Availability

Perhaps one of the constant things in the medical field is the intense competition for coveted spots. From gaining the highest possible score in your National Medical Admission Test to landing a spot for residency in your chosen institution. One might think that the competition ends there but in fact, finding a permanent post-residency career in a health care institution is incredibly difficult due to even more intense competition. More often than not, that lack of career options would lead to physicians and practitioners in accepting job offerings with abysmal returns.

In locum tenens, employment opportunities are much wider and in demand. In fact, this is even projected to grow given the current situations where health care institutions are looking to fill-up their staffing vacancies temporarily.

This means that the current benefits of practicing under locum tenens are even going to grow more in the years to come. As the medical field ever evolves, institutions continuously look for the next big thing as a way to remedy the current and future hurdles of medical practice.