Plagued by issues of managed care, mounting paperwork, rising malpractice costs, and diminishing reimbursements, some physicians are opting to step away from traditional practices and focusing on locum tenens.
There are many advantages to working as a locum tenens – a flexible work schedule, freedom from bureaucratic responsibilities, choosing your work location, and time off when you require it. There are now an estimated 44,000 physicians, about 6% of active doctors, working locum tenens, with an increasing number being tempted by this option.
For a growing number of physicians, locum tenens work has become their preferred form of medical practice, enjoying freedom and flexibility from a regular schedule. Some doctors work as a locum tenens as a bridge between full-time assignments. For others, it is a way to get clinical experience in other parts of the country before choosing to relocate. There are also full-time doctors who supplement their income from a permanent position with part-time locum work.
Medical students face not only long hours of study but also debt they incur during the process of becoming physicians. Student debt is one of the major barriers to creating more desperately-needed physicians. Current medical students can fund their education by working as locum tenens.
The need for locum tenens is growing as hospitals, clinics, and healthcare systems find it cost-effective to supplement their seasonal physician staffing needs during shortages with temporary assistance, rather than staffing at maximum levels throughout the year.
A permanent career as locum tenens is not for everyone but it can be for someone with the right temperament. For others, it provides a temporary platform while finding a position that meets their needs.