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I just finished residency. Is locum tenens for me?

Locum tenens work is not just for the semi-retired or in-between-jobs physician. It can also be a great way for new doctors to start their careers.

Try out new practice settings
 - Most residents are exposed to large academic settings, but wind up practicing in a variety of different settings after residency. Locum tenens work can be a great way to see the inner workings of a small group practice, a rural hospital, a community clinic without having to make a long-term commitment. If you're thinking about solo practice, but don't know the first thing about running a business, a small group practice could you give invaluable exposure to the day-to-day aspects of running a small business.

See the country
 - You've been busy working on your education for the last 12 years. You may not have had the opportunity to see much of the country outside of those academic settings. Ever dreamed of being a country doctor? Check out rural Wyoming. Been landlocked for decades? Try a coastal city. A locum tenens agency will help you get a license in a new state, so don't be afraid to make a cross-country move. After all, it's only temporary.

It pays to go locum - Most locum tenens assignments pay rates that are competitive with permanent positions plus you get paid housing, transportation, a per diem and paid malpractice insurance coverage. Working locum tenens can be a great strategy for the debt-laden doctor, allowing you to maximize your savings to pay off debt, make a down payment on a house, or set up a private practice. 

Just take a break - Maybe you just need some R&R after 12 years of grueling academic work. The beauty of locum tenens work is that you can do as much or as little of it as you would like. It can give you the opportunity to take a breather while still making some money part time. Or it can give you the time you need to prepare for your board exams. Call it subsidized studying.

Get set for the job hunt - While searching for a locum job is not nearly as challenging as looking for a permanent position, there are a few things that you will need to do.

  • Prepare your CV - Summarize your education and experience in one page. Put the most important information at the top: education, residency, fellowships, board certifications, and licenses, followed by skills and practice experience (or employment history). Publications or academic positions can go at the end of your document.
  • Get your references ready - Speed up the credentialing process by having your references ready ahead of time. Better yet if you can get pre-credentialed with a locum agency, you will be on assignment that much faster.
  • Geton the phone with a recruiter - Make sure to establish a relationship with your locum tenens recruiter. Keeping in touch not only lets them stay up to date on your availability and location preferences, it also helps you to establish a rapport and keeps you top of mind for when the perfect opportunity comes along.

Locum tenens might provide you with an experience that could take you in a radically different (and better) direction than you ever imagined.