The 411 on Working Locum Tenens

So you're thinking about taking a locum tenens opportunity, and undoubtedly you've got some questions. Below are some answers to commonly asked questions by locum tenens providers:

What in the world does "locum tenens" mean? Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that means "to hold the place of, to substitute for." In layman's terms, it means a temporary physician. To read more about the history of the locum tenens industry, click here.

Why should I consider working locum tenens?

 Physicians choose to accept locum tenens assignments for many different reasons. Many like the option of trying out different practice styles and geographic locations before making a permanent commitment. In fact, statistics show that a high percentage of residents are unhappy with their first practice setting, often because the style of practice is not what was expected or the administrative physician staffing agendas were not clearly defined.

Physicians in mid-career transition often see working locum tenens as an opportunity to try out different areas and bridge the gap on income while searching for the right permanent position.

Seasoned physicians enjoy the option of scaling back but not retiring from medicine completely. A recent industry survey of more than 500 physicians showed these top 4 reasons for working short-term assignments:

  • 48% - Flexible schedule
  • 38% - Travel opportunities
  • 35% - Earn extra income
  • 34% - Clinical experience

Working locum tenens gives you the freedom to decide if all your critical needs and desires such as geography, income potential, practice style, administrative agendas and community profile match up with your long-term goals.

Why do healthcare facilities use locum tenens physician staffing?

 Again, there are a variety of reasons that healthcare facilities take advantage of locum tenens physician staffing. Locum tenens physicians often fill in while other physicians are on vacation or sabbatical, supplement seasonal physician staffing needs during peak seasons or for permanent vacancies. Utilizing locum tenens physicians is often very cost effective for facilities, who can supplement their permanent staff rather than staffing at the maximum levels at all times.

How much money can I make doing locum tenens?

 Earning potential depends on your medical specialty and the job description. Most locum tenens companies pay the physician as an independent contractor on a per diem basis. Some contracts are based on an hourly scale and overtime and on-call time are paid at time and a half after a 40-hour workweek. Here's some examples of pay scales by specialty:

Specialty
Income - (per 8-hour day)
CRNA
$720 to $880
Family Practice
$520 to $640
Internal Medicine
$520 to $640
Pediatrics
$520 to $620
OB/GYN
$600 to $800
Hospitalist
$650 to $850
General Surgeon
$650 to $750
Orthopedic Surgeon
$800 to $900
Neurosurgeon
$1,300 to $1,400
Anesthesiologist
$1,000 to $1,500
Psychiatrist
$500 to $600
Radiologist
$1,200 to $1,500
Cardiologist
$600 to $750

If you decide to work with LocumTenens.com, keep in mind that we cover your medical malpractice insurance, travel and housing expenses.

Can I work wherever I want? Sure! LocumTenens.com has opportunities available nationwide - just check out the locum tenens job search function.

What if I want to work in NY but only have a FL license? Unless it is a federal facility you cannot work in another state without an active state medical license. Most recruiting agencies will assist you in obtaining medical licenses in other states.

Is there anything else I should know to be successful working locum tenens?

 Below are three tips for success when working locum tenens:

  • Understand the nature of LT assignments. LT assignments come in all shapes and sizes, every possible kind of practice, and assignment lengths vary greatly. Most often, the assignments last from a few days to a few weeks. In some instances -- such as with government contracts -- the length may extend for months or up to a year. In some cases, LT assignments represent temp-to-perm opportunities.
    Be flexible regarding the assignments you are willing to work. Locum tenens firms represent a wide variety of employment opportunities, and not every potential assignment can send you to Miami Beach or beautiful Alaska. So the greater your flexibility in types of assignments you're willing to accept, the more you'll be able to work and the more likely your recruiter will start calling you first when prime assignments do become available.
    Communicate regularly with your recruiter. Make sure you stay in touch with your regular LT recruiter and indicate how she can reach you if you are not accessible through normal communication channels. You'd hate to miss out on that opportunity in Miami Beach because your recruiter couldn't get you on the phone in time!