An increase in staffing shortages has put the demand for locum tenens on the rise. Healthcare facilities need extra members to support their current staff or fill in for a physician on leave.
Becoming a locum tenens is a great option for a physician seeking more control over their schedule, pay rates, and vacation time. But many practitioners are on the fence due to pervasive myths about the locum tenens’ lifestyle. Below, we’ve debunked six myths to help you decide if a locum assignment is right for you.
1. You won’t get paid well
One of the biggest myths that drive away potential locum tenens is low pay. Locum tenens are independent contractors who are paid hourly. This means they are usually paid more than permanent positions regardless of how many procedures they perform or how many patients they see.
Additionally, rates are determined by specialty, not by the number of years in practice. Primary care physicians—the most in-demand type of locum—are typically paid at a daily rate of $600-$800. As of 2016, the average annual salary for a physician assistant locum tenens was $120,975 while a nurse practitioner earned $112,912. Keep in mind that locum tenens pay for their own benefits.
2. You won’t build a rapport with patients
Even though you’re not in a permanent position, you’ll still have more time with patients than non-locum tenens providers. Locum assignments are exempt from the usual load of administrative duties such as meetings or redundant paperwork. Because of your lack of extra duties, you’ll be able to spend more time with patients without going over the clock.
3. You’ll have an inconsistent schedule
Physicians are drawn to the life of a locum tenens specifically because of the control they have over their scheduling. Locum tenens can create a consistent yet flexible schedule that suits their ideal lifestyle. Nurse practitioners and physicians alike turn to locum tenens so they can meet new people, travel and make extra money—all within a predictable schedule.
4. You won’t be welcomed by staff
When you arrive at a healthcare facility as a locum tenens, you are there to fill a need. More often than not, staff will welcome your help with open arms. But be proactive about what to expect. Prepare for your assignment in advance by talking to your recruiter about the culture, expectations, and any other factors that may influence how you’re received.
5. You won’t get full-time work
We don’t tend to associate temporary assignments with full-time work. But the vast majority of locum tenens providers are looking for locum tenens who can work 40 hours a week. The only reason not to get full-time work is if you choose the part-time route because of another job. The benefit is that the amount of work is completely up to you.
6. You won’t have a strong resume
Most people assume that going from assignment to assignment will make their resume look less appealing. In fact, the resumes of locum tenens are actually more attractive to potential employers. With locum assignments under your belt, you’ll have practiced in a variety of settings and can bring a set of fresh ideas to a new healthcare facility. A history of successful assignments makes you seem adaptable and versatile with a high level of commitment to professional development.
Locum tenens present an economical, efficient solution to providing continuity of high-quality patient care. With the real story under your belt, consider a new path for your career that may prove more fulfilling, flexible, and fun.