Working Locum Tenens: Truth vs. Myths

myths-vs-factsMaybe you have considered working locum tenens, but shelved the notion because you heard it is not as stable as a regular full-time position. Or perhaps you believe an assignment facility’s permanent staff will be unwelcoming or view you as an outsider. Then again, you may be reluctant to explore the locum lifestyle because you think it could be too erratic.

Well, prepare to have those and several other myths debunked! Read on to learn what you may actually expect from the locum tenens practice alternative.

Myth: I can’t work locum tenens if I have a full-time position or practice.

Truth: Many providers choose to moonlight, working locum tenens to supplement their income. Furthermore, you are free to do it as often or as infrequently as you wish, from providing weekend coverage to accepting assignments during vacation from your regular/permanent position.

Myth: Doing locum tenens is too unpredictable and demanding.

Truth: Since you are able to determine where and when you work, you are in the driver’s seat in terms of the number of hours you practice and where you will go. You have a host of options, from practicing part- or full-time to accepting locum tenens opportunities in nearby communities or other parts of the country.

Myth: Locum tenens practice does not provide a consistent source of income.

Truth: 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. As long as there is a need for physicians, advanced practice providers, and CRNAs, there will be no shortage of locum tenens opportunities.

Myth: Locum tenens providers are unable to build a rapport with their patients.

Truth: When you work locum tenens, you are not mired in hospital politics and administrative issues, so you are able to focus fully on your patients and their care. What’s more, you may elect to recurrently take assignments at a given location, giving you an opportunity to develop lasting relationships with patients.

Myth: Permanent staff members resent locum tenens providers.

Truth: By and large, staff members at facilities in need of dedicated clinicians are thankful for the assistance and expertise a locum tenens provider brings to their hospital, practice, or clinic. Moreover, you likely will be regarded as an integral part of the team, essential to ensuring the continuity of quality healthcare.

Myth: Locum tenens practice is predominantly geared to semi-retired doctors.

Truth: Working locum tenens is a viable, rewarding option for all physicians—whether right out of residency, mid-career, or approaching retirement—nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and CRNAs. The practice alternative has something to offer at every stage of your career, from giving you the ability to “test drive” different areas before settling down to providing a way to avoid burnout and invigorate your passion for medicine.

Myth: Working locum tenens will negatively impact my curriculum vitae (CV) or credentials.

Truth: The experience you gain as an independent contractor will actually make you a more attractive candidate, be it for future locum tenens opportunities or a permanent position. You will be exposed to and will learn new approaches to practice, master different electronic medical record (EMR) systems, and become a more flexible medical professional—all of which will have facility managers and recruiters lining up to partner with you!

Myth: Providers who work locum tenens are often viewed as inexperienced.

Truth: Doing locum tenens will present you with the chance 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 amasses a wealth of knowledge and becomes skilled at adapting quickly to new environments.

Myth: Locum tenens physicians are assigned boring or undesirable cases.

Truth: When 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 are on vacation or sick. Moreover, providers who accept locum tenens assignments often save lives, a fact that cannot be viewed as dull or objectionable.

Myth: I will have to take assignments in unpleasant locales.

Truth: 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. Then again, a number of clinicians opt to travel to communities where the need for the services they deliver is particularly great. Whatever your predilection, 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 start exploring the possibilities.

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