Maybe you have considered working locum tenens but tabled the idea because you have heard it’s not as stable as a regular full-time position. Or maybe you are worried an assignment facility’s permanent staff will view you as an outsider. What if we told you that your perceptions of locum tenens may be off?
Prepare to have those and other myths shattered! Here, we separate fact from fiction and highlight what you can really expect from the locum tenens practice alternative.
Myth No. 1: You can’t work locum tenens if you have a full-time position or practice.
Actually, many providers choose to moonlight, working locum tenens to supplement their income. Additionally, you are free to do it as often or as infrequently as you wish, from providing weekend coverage to accepting assignments during vacations from your regular/permanent position. Be sure to double-check your contract details, but it’s very common for providers to work both locums and perm in tandem.
Myth No. 2: Doing locum tenens is too unpredictable and demanding.
Since you can choose where and when you will work, you are the driver in terms of the number of hours you practice and where you will go. You have so many options, from practicing part-time or full time to accepting locum tenens opportunities in nearby communities or other parts of the country.
Myth No. 3: Locum tenens practice doesn’t provide a consistent source of income.
As the nation’s physician shortage continues to grow, so do the opportunities for quality locum tenens providers. Hospitals, practices, and other medical facilities continually work toward narrowing the gap between supply and demand, repeatedly relying on the services of skilled, compassionate locum tenens professionals. With a constant need for physicians and advanced practice providers, there will be no shortage of locum tenens opportunities.
Myth No. 4: Locum tenens providers are unable to build relationships with their patients.
Not true! In fact, when you work locum tenens, you are not bogged down by hospital politics and administrative issues, so you are able to focus fully on your patients and their care. Additionally, you may choose to continue to take assignments at one location, which allows you to develop lasting relationships with that patient population.
Myth No. 5: Permanent staff members resent locum tenens providers.
Typically, staff at facilities in need of dedicated clinicians are thankful for the assistance and expertise that a locum tenens provider brings to a hospital, practice, or clinic. Often, if you demonstrate your competence and teamwork, you will quickly be considered an integral part of the team, essential to ensuring the continuity of quality healthcare.
Myth No. 6: Locum tenens practice is predominantly geared to semi-retired doctors.
Working locum tenens is a viable, rewarding option for all physicians and advanced practice providers—whether you are right out of residency, mid-career, or approaching retirement. The practice alternative has something to offer at every stage of your career, from the ability to “test drive” different areas before settling down to a way to avoid burnout and invigorate your passion for medicine as you approach the middle of your career.
Myth No. 7: Working locum tenens will negatively impact your CV or credentials.
The experience you gain as an independent contractor will actually make you a more attractive candidate, whether for future locum tenens opportunities or a permanent position. You will be exposed to and learn new approaches to practice, master different electronic medical record (EMR) systems, and become a more flexible medical professional—all of which motivate facility managers and recruiters to partner with you!
Myth No. 8: Providers who work locum tenens are often viewed as inexperienced.
Actually, the opposite is true. As we highlighted above, locum tenens presents an opportunity to gain incomparable experience and a competitive edge. By working in different practice settings—and with a variety of physicians and support staff—a locum tenens provider quickly absorbs a wealth of knowledge and becomes skilled at adapting quickly to new environments and hospital systems.
Myth No. 9: Locum tenens physicians are assigned boring or undesirable cases.
If you work locum tenens, you are sent to a facility in dire need of a clinician in your specialty. You may be bringing highly sought-after healthcare services to patients in underserved communities or to facilities and practices in need of supplemental coverage while permanent staff members are on vacation or sick. Additionally, providers who accept locum tenens assignments often save lives, which is hardly viewed as dull or objectionable.
Myth No. 10: You will have to take assignments in unpleasant locales.
Preferred locations are subjective. Some providers favor assignments in areas within driving distance of a beach or lake, while others wish to be placed in cities near their family or friends. Many physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants opt to travel to communities where the need for the services they deliver is particularly great. Whatever your preference, you determine and are in control of where you go for a locum tenens opportunity.
Do your homework
To learn more about what you can expect when practicing locum tenens, do a little research. Speak with colleagues who have taken assignments. If there are any independent contractors at your facility, ask them about their experiences. And, of course, be sure to contact respected locum tenens staffing companies, like Medicus Healthcare Solutions, to explore the possibilities.