If the term “locum tenens” came up in a game of word association, poplar responses might be travel, airplanes, and licensing. And while that may sound great to providers who enjoy travel, it shouldn’t scare off physicians who prefer to work closer to home. It is possible to do locum tenens close to home, since job opportunities abound in every state across the country. Here are 8 benefits you can get by taking locum tenens assignments in your own backyard.
1. Increased marketability
Local doctors are particularly attractive to healthcare facilities for several reasons, according to Brian S. McKillop, Director of Emergency Medicine at Weatherby Healthcare. One of the top reasons is reduced travel costs. When you consider the savings on airfare, car rental, and housing, the savings is significant.” This makes local doctors highly desirable to facilities in need of temporary staff.
2. Backyard tourism
Just because you prefer to stay in your own area doesn’t mean you can’t mix things up. If you live in a bustling city, you can likely find a small town within a few hours drive. Or, if you live and work off the beaten path, it might be fun to change it up at a facility in a more metropolitan area. And then you can take advantage of touring the nearby sights and attractions we tend to overlook or take for granted when they’re close to home.
3. Employment exploration
Temporary contracts are an excellent way to test-drive different healthcare facilities and practice settings within your own geographical footprint. Stepping in at difference practices and hospitals opens the door to new patient populations, which helps you to keep your skills sharp, as well relationships with new colleagues, which may prove advantageous at some point in your career.
4. Supplemental income
It’s not necessary to venture far from home to earn extra income. Depending on where you live, short-term contracts are likely available within a few hours’ travel. Spending a few weekends stepping in at neighboring facilities can become profitable very quickly. If you’re looking for supplemental income to help fund, say, student-loan debt, practice start-up costs, a house down payment, or a dream vacation, locum tenens could be the way to go.
5. Last-minute availability
When healthcare facilities in your area have an eleventh-hour staffing shortage, local locum tenens providers win. Take for example, Matthew Ebling, MD, who has been taking both emergency and family medicine locum tenens contracts for the last eight years. Dr. Ebling lives in the middle of his Mid-Atlantic state, and often works at multiple locations, less than two hours from home.
“Accepting local locum tenens contracts is wonderful,” explains Dr. Ebling, “because it eliminates the time and hassle of flying, getting a rental car, and staying in a hotel. The flexible scheduling is a huge advantage of locum tenens in general, and for local facilities, I have the potential to pick up last-minute or ‘bonus shifts,’ since travel is not a barrier.”
6. Reimbursement for travel
You may know that long-distance locum tenens contracts include the cost of air travel. But local travel costs may also be reimbursed, according to Bill Kowske, SR Manager, Urgent Care/Occupational Medicine at Weatherby. Depending on the client and the distance, physicians who take local contracts may be reimbursed for travel costs, including gas, tolls, and mileage at the current IRS rate.
7. Proximity to family
Some physicians are reluctant to adopt locum tenens practice because they don’t want to be away from their family. But providers who take local contracts don’t struggle with this issue. And generally speaking, locum tenens practice offers unique family-friendly benefits, outlined in another recent blog post. Veteran locum providers insist the benefits associated with this practice alternative—such as flexible scheduling and a complete lack of business-related and administrative headaches—are extremely family friendly.
8. Focused and knowledgeable support
At reputable staffing agencies, such as Weatherby Healthcare, all providers are paired with their own dedicated consultant. So if you prefer to stay in one specific geographical area, your Weatherby consultant will make it his or her business to find all appropriate opportunities in that locale. This was the case for Debra Carter Miller, MD, who came to Weatherby as a new locums provider looking for the flexibility to stay close to her elderly mother.
“My consultant, Jenna Brown, has worked tirelessly to keep me close to home, near my 90-year-old mother. When I explained that I was unable to go far, Jenna complete understood. And, since I had never done locum tenens work before, I was grateful for the extensive support Jenna provided without a hint of impatience. I am happy to report that I have been offered a variety of assignments, and Jenna has become a friend.”
Physicians who prefer to stay near home can still earn extra money through temporary assignments. To get started, search available jobs by region or by state and prepare to reap the benefits of the locum tenens lifestyle.