Locum Tenens Tips

6 Reasons Residents and Fellows Should Consider Locum Tenens

Male doctor caring for preschool-age girl

In years past, locum tenens jobs were viewed predominantly as a way to transition from working full time to retirement. Indeed, older physicians continue to accept short-term contracts to keep active in their medical careers without taking on all the requirements related to running a full-time practice. Mid-career physicians use temporary positions as a means to moonlight and step outside their routines.

For whatever reason, though, younger physicians only a few years out of medical school weren’t always associated with the career alternative — much less residents or fellows. That’s changing. This younger segment of the physician population has discovered that locum tenens offers many benefits even while they’re finishing up their training.

A chance to increase your earnings

The average medical school graduate incurs $180,000 in debt, according to 2014 statistics from the Association of American Medical Colleges and reported by Becker’s ASC Review. Accepting locum tenens contracts creates an opportunity to boost your income and help make a dent in that debt. For one thing, your expenses are minimized. Credible staffing agencies cover transportation as well as rent and utilities or hotel fees. Locum tenens companies also provide malpractice insurance for the duration of each contract. Plus, locum tenens professionals frequently earn a higher per-hour rate than some permanent staff members.

Test out different clinical settings

While in training, residents and fellows pretty much practice within a single clinical setting. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the type of environment in which you wish to launch your career. Perhaps an urban-based resident would like a quieter, slower paced facility for his or her long-term future, or vice versa.

But how would you know if you prefer one type of setting over another if you don’t have the chance to feel out various environments? That’s what locum tenens assignments offer. With each new contract, you’re immersed in different facilities in different types of communities—from large Level I trauma centers to small urgent care offices; from major urban centers to rural towns. You’ll have more first-hand knowledge of what best suits your needs when it’s time to decide where to settle.  Locum tenens contracts also have definitive start and end dates, so you’re not bound to a long-term contract.

Build up your résumé

Locum tenens assignments help expand your training. By practicing in multiple settings, you have opportunities to not only put your education to the test but work alongside other physicians and observe how they perform procedures. You can ask questions about their experiences or glean their opinions about cases. Plus, locum tenens experiences expose you to different patient populations, which means you’ll learn how regional and cultural characteristics affect healthcare. Each new encounter adds another dimension to your skill set.

Expand your professional network

In addition to observing how other physicians care for patients, you can develop professional relationships with them that extend beyond temporary assignments. A cultivated network of peers and mentors can be 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.

Take advantage of schedule flexibility

Locum tenens professionals decide when and where to accept contracts. Assignments may last a few days to a few months, and they can take you a few counties over or across the country. The key is to figure out which opportunities fit your schedule.

Work between residency and fellowship

If there’s a gap between finishing your residency and starting a fellowship, locum tenens contracts allow you to work, and earn a salary, without having to agree to a long-term commitment.

Learn more about how you could benefit from locum tenens opportunities while finishing up residency or a fellowship by calling a Weatherby Healthcare consultant today.

About the author

Anne Baye Ericksen

Anne Baye Ericksen is a journalist and locum tenens subject-matter expert with more than two decades of experience. She was a regular contributor to LocumLife, Healthcare Traveler and Healthcare Staffing and Management Solutions magazines.

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