Advantages of locum tenens abound for physicians who take short term assignments, whether they’re close to home or at more remote locations. Providers who participate in this practice alternative reap multiple benefits—both professionally and personally. The list of plusses is long. Here, we highlight just a few:
1. Augment your clinical skills
Since locum tenens providers regularly face new challenges in diagnoses and treatments, they are continually increasing their knowledge base and skills. Take, for example, U.S. Air Force surgeon David Thomas, MD. After a desire for new challenges led him to locum tenens practice, he is grateful for the variation he now sees.
“The jobs are exciting and new. I am seeing things I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to, which is keeping my operating and surgical skills sharp.” Dr .Thomas feels sure that providing locum tenens medicine is making him the best physician he can be.
2. Treat new patient populations
Locum tenens providers have the unique opportunity to serve varied patient populations they would not encounter at home. Seasoned locum docs say this keeps their practice fresh and exciting. “I like being in an environment where I see atypical things from a primary care, chronic care management clinic,” says Linnea Williams, MD.
Dr. Williams sees patients at her solo private primary care clinic Mondays through Fridays, and uses two weekends each month to provide locum tenens services at urgent care centers, both locally and in other states. “When I travel for a locums assignment, I close my office on Friday and avoid early Monday morning appointments. Mixing it up this way keeps things from becoming mundane. It’s fun to see different patients in an urgent care setting.”
3. Experience different practice methods and settings
Exploring the country is a big draw for many locum tenens docs, but important exploration occurs on the job as well. Radiation oncologist Larry Daugherty, MD used locum tenens opportunities to test out different practice settings.
“Locums was extremely valuable to me because I was able to see the diversity of different practices and find out what I liked and didn’t like,” he explains. “When it came time for me to make a job transition, I was armed with a lot more information. I’d seen many different medical records, technologies in radiation oncology, and ways of running an office.”
Jelica Maze, MD, also benefitted from the inside-view locum tenens afforded her. “After my son was born, I wasn’t ready to return to a full-time permanent position. Fortunately Weatherby was able to accommodate the schedule I wanted, and also let me work in both inpatient and outpatient settings. This has given me good experience in a variety of practice styles.”
4. Expand your professional network
Locum tenens providers also have the valuable opportunity to work with an ever-changing cast of colleagues, increasing their professional network by leaps and bounds. “You meet ten times more people working as a locums provider than you would otherwise,” says Kirk Crouser, MD, who turned to locum tenens practice after holding many different positions in internal medicine. “And you can develop professional relationships that extend beyond temporary assignments,” he adds.
A cultivated network of peers and mentors is a valuable tool when you’re looking for a permanent position. You also can tap into those connections if you want to get involved with research or need an expert consultant. Naturally, there’s a chance to form lasting friendships, too.
5. Take more control over work/life balance
Last but certainly not least, temporary contracts allow physicians to reclaim control of their schedule. Locums decide when, where, and how often they want to commit to treating patients. This coveted schedule flexibility is vital to a healthy work/life balance.
Prasanta Chandra, MD, attests to the magnitude of this life-changing benefit. “I have the freedom to pursue what I want to do and the time in my schedule for new opportunities.” Ultimately, he says, “I am a better doctor when I work locum tenens because I’m more present. I don’t get bogged down with the complexity of my work every day and am able to maintain my family life. I don’t bring home all the problems.”