There are a myriad of reasons that physicians choose to seek locum tenens work, including higher pay, varied experience, geographic diversity, and new career opportunities. Some physicians wonder, however, whether locum tenens can take the place of a full-time, profitable career, or whether locum tenens is best reserved to only temporary opportunities. Here is a look at some of the many ways that physicians make locum tenens a full-time career.
Fill the physician shortage.
The physician shortage has already hit, and experts are projecting that it is only going to get worse. (You can read more about the looming physician shortage in our blog post about it here.) Because of this, more and more healthcare employers are realizing the benefits that come from hiring locum tenens professionals to provide adequate coverage. So if you are considering going locum tenens, keep in mind that the need for physicians is great and ongoing, and this means that there will continue to be locum tenens opportunities that are open to you.
Achieve a better work-life balance.
Many physicians find that locum tenens helps them achieve a better work-life balance. Oftentimes in a private practice or in an outpatient setting, physicians find that their work follows them on their pagers. Locum tenens work can mean that when you are working, you are working, and when you are off, you are off. Maintaining a work-life balance is essential for avoiding burnout, and if you can avoid burnout, you are more likely to continue to enjoy your work, longer.
Get better compensation.
Many physicians choose to take the locum tenens route because of the competitive compensation it offers. Studies have shown that independent office-based physicians have been closing their practices increasingly in recent years, mostly due to poor reimbursement and increasing practice demands. Locum tenens does not always offer more pay per year than permanent placement, but overtime work and “off” hours easily make up the difference.
Focus on providing care.
Many physicians appreciate how locum tenen allows them to focus on practicing medicine, without all of the paperwork. Locum tenens physicians can focus on caring for patients without the hassle of running an office or keeping an office up-to-date with ever-changing regulations.
There are drawbacks to locum tenens to consider as well before you make the switch. For example, since you are more of an independent contractor, you are not entitled to benefits like 401(k) matching. Travel and separation from family are major drawbacks as well if you have a family and prefer to stick to one location. Some physicians thrive on an ever-changing work environment, while others prefer something more routine. Ultimately, the decision to go locum tenens is up to you and should be determined by your particular lifestyle and preferences.