The growth of locum tenens over the last decade has been truly remarkable. What was once thought to be a profession reserved for doctors unable to work in any other environment has become a legitimate and respected part of healthcare. Those of us in the locum tenens industry could not be more pleased. Locum tenens now has such a high profile that it is hard to find healthcare facilities that don’t use locum doctors at least on an occasional basis.
What about you? Are you a doctor, PA, or NP considering getting into locum tenens work? If you’ve been giving it any thought at all, now would be a great time to contact a recruiting agency or two and learn more about it. To get you started, here are five things you might not know about locum tenens work:
1. Locums Are Independent Contractors
For the purposes of taxation and employment, the federal government classifies locum tenens workers as independent contractors. That means that even if you find your assignments through one or two recruiting agencies, those agencies do not employ you. You are also not employed by the facilities you work at. Locums work on a contract basis, providing temporary services to meet a temporary need.
Your status as a contractor also dictates that you are self-employed. This gives you maximum control over your career. You decide where to work, when to work, and the kind of work you want to do. More importantly, you get to practice medicine without having to manage your own private practice.
2. Locum Tenens Is Good for Medical Moonlighting
There is a common misconception that locum work is reserved only for professionals willing to take full-time assignments lasting three months or more. In reality, there are lots of opportunities for medical moonlighting in the locum tenens arena. You could take a few extra shifts per month in your local area if all you’re looking to do is generate a little more walking around money. You do not have to hit the road for months at a time.
3. Locum Tenens Isn’t Just for New Doctor
Another common misconception is that locum tenens work is only for new doctors who haven’t found a full-time job. Nothing could be further from the truth. As any recruiting agency can tell you, locums span all ages. There are young doctors just out of residency working alongside older doctors transitioning to retirement – and everything in between.
4. Free Housing and Paid Travel Are the Norm
Competition among recruiting agencies is so stiff that it is normal for them to offer free housing and paid travel. This is a big deal for locums. Why? Because it translates into more earnings. For example, let’s say you chose locum tenens work full-time. You wouldn’t need to maintain your own house because your housing is paid for by your agency. The money you would have put into a house or apartment goes into your bank account instead.
5. Paid Malpractice Insurance Is the Norm
There are those doctors afraid to delve into the locum tenens arena because they worry they will not be able to afford malpractice insurance. Well, you can rest easy. It is quite common for agencies to provide that insurance as a fringe benefit. There is only one caveat here: not all agency-provided insurance policies are equal. You have to be careful to fully understand what insurance is being offered before you accept an assignment.
Now you know a little bit more about locum tenens work. Does your new knowledge help with your decision?