5 Surprising Perks of Locum Tenens Work

By Dr. Peter Alperin
September 5, 2019

More and more doctors are interested in locum tenens, and the benefits are positive for patients and doctors alike.

“Locum Tenens” is a direct translation of the Latin phrase meaning, “temporary work.” A locum tenens physician works in the place of a full-time physician when he or she is absent, or when a hospital or practice is short-staffed. For example, locum tenens may fill in for a physician on family or maternity leave or may be temporarily employed by a hospital or practice that is under-staffed. 

Peter Alperin

Peter Alperin

 Locum tenens is becoming more common. In fact, Doximity’s recent data report found a steep increase in interest among U.S. physicians in locum tenens job opportunities. 

There are many reasons why doctors are attracted to locum tenens, but here are five great perks of a locum tenens job:  

  1. More flexibility -Without a doubt, the number-one benefit of doing locum tenens work is gaining control over your schedule. You can assess and choose to pursue an opportunity that is best suited for you. If you prefer, you can work locums just on the weekends, simply be on call for a week or two, or take a recurring locums position at a nearby facility.
  2. Increased compensation- Though compensation varies, generally speaking, locum tenens physicians earn a higher hourly rate than their full-time counterparts. With this extra earning potential, many doctors have found locums work to be helpful in paying off student medical debt more quickly, which can average upwards of $196,520 according to NerdWallet. 
  3. Travel opportunities– Perhaps the best-known benefit is the ability to travel. Since there are many assignments available across the country, some physicians like to turn locums assignments into working vacations for themselves or their families. When the daily grind gets to be too much, a change of scenery can breathe new life into your practice. Locum tenens can help change things up.
  4. Test out a new workplace– If you are considering a position at a new health organization, with locums work, you have the unique opportunity to get a “taste” of what it would be like to work there without making a more permanent decision. You can experience working in a variety of practice settings. For organizations alike, they can see if you are a fit for their culture and complement current staff. Making sure the position is a good fit for both the doctor and the hospital will create a positive environment that ultimately benefits patients. Locum tenens is a win-win for all! 
  5. Less administrative hassle –Since locums is a temporary position, you won’t have to deal with a lot of the nuances that come with being full time.  For example, locums don’t have administrative or teaching responsibilities, and they won’t have to deal with the hassles of coding or billing. They also don’t play a role in practice set up or hiring staff. This means you’ll have more time to focus on practicing medicine, instead of the ancillary activities that keep a medical office running. 

Which leads me to perhaps the most important benefit of all – locum tenens is positive for patients. Whether it is addressing gaps in care or increasing access to specialists and sub-specialists, locum tenens provides physicians the opportunity to reach more patients. Therefore, it is not only professionally fulfilling, but, for many physicians, personally rewarding as well. 

 Dr. Peter Alperin, Vice President at Doximity, the professional medical network and internist at the Veterans Affairs hospital in San Francisco.

Topics: Career Planning

Educational Debt and Physician Employment
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