A beginner’s guide to international locum tenens assignments

Learn more about working international locum tenens.

Locum tenens not only offers physicians flexibility, work/life balance, and the opportunity to earn extra income, but it also gives you the chance to travel and explore new locations and cultures. For physicians longing to see the world, Weatherby Healthcare now offers international locum tenens assignments through our sister company, Global Medical Staffing.

If you’re interested in an international assignment, your Weatherby consultant can help you connect with Global Medical as well as help you arrange your domestic and international assignment timelines, so they don’t overlap.

Ready to explore the world? Here’s a brief overview of how international locum tenens works.

Time commitment for international locums assignments

International locums assignments typically require much longer commitments than the average domestic assignments. Depending on the location, some can be as short as a few weeks, but many require a commitment of six months to a year or longer. So, it’s important that you’re realistic about how much time you can commit to an international assignment when deciding if it’s right for you.

Typical pay for international assignments

Pay varies from country to country, but for physicians used to U.S. pay, an international locums assignment will often pay less than a domestic assignment. That said, in some cases, the facility will provide housing, transportation, or cover other expenses to help offset the decrease in pay. In the end, most physicians who go abroad do so for the experience, not for the money.

International locums provides great experience

Qualifications for working locums abroad

Although there are some exceptions — practice standards differ from country to country — international locums physicians must be board certified or board eligible to practice. Some countries also want recent, extensive postgraduate training or experience — three or more years in a comparable health system. If you’re a new physician, it may be worth working some locums assignments closer to home with Weatherby first to try out various clinical settings and gain additional experience. However, some overseas locations, like Guam, are great options for physicians right out of residency.

International locum tenens application process

Just like the length of an international assignment, the application process also takes more time. Plan on six to nine months to gather paperwork, secure visas, and complete the credentialing and licensing process. Learn more about the paperwork required for international assignments.

Taking family and pets with you on assignment

Bringing the family along on an international assignment is a great opportunity for them to learn about and experience different cultures and ways of life. Global Medical can assist with visas for you and your family members who travel with you. They can even point you in the right direction for help with school enrollment, cellphone plans, and setting up bank accounts.

Bring the family on your international assignment

You can also bring along pets, but depending on which country you’re headed to, it can be a stressful process. Requirements may involve quarantine, bloodwork, vet visits, and microchipping. So, be prepared for the additional costs and paperwork, and consider how hard the long flights and possible quarantine will be on your pet. Sometimes, it may be a better idea to leave them with a trusted friend or family member while you’re away.

Housing and travel when working locums overseas

Airfare, housing, ground transportation, and malpractice insurance are all typically covered. However, while your travel expenses as a physician are covered, most contracts won’t cover your family’s travel and visa costs.

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Popular international locum tenens locations

There are a variety of locations for international locums assignments that offer physicians the opportunity to enhance their expertise while experiencing new cultures and enjoying unique adventures.

Popular international locum tenens locations

Here are a few to consider:

U.S. Virgin Islands and Caribbean

  • Lower pay than U.S. assignments but lower cost of living
  • Fast credentialing and no visa requirements
  • Short-term assignments, typically less than 30 days
  • English speaking
  • Demand is high for a range of specialties

Locums in the Caribbean: What to know about practicing in the Islands

Guam and Saipan

  • Similar pay to U.S. assignments
  • Fast credentialing (can take as little as 45 days)
  • Wide variety of assignment lengths — from three months to two years
  • English speaking
  • Generous paid time off

Practicing neurology in Guam: One physician’s story

New Zealand

  • Lower pay than U.S. assignments
  • Typically a four-month application process
  • Assignment length is generally six months to a year
  • English speaking
  • Generous paid time off and an average work week of 45 hours

A family affair: What to know about taking your family to New Zealand


  • Similar pay to U.S. assignments
  • Application process varies but typically takes six months
  • Assignment length is typically 12 months or more
  • English speaking
  • Opportunities to serve the Aboriginal population

Go down under: Practicing medicine in Australia

Working with Global Medical Staffing

Whatever location you choose for your international locum tenens adventure, your Global Medical consultant will be with you every step of the way, helping you through the complex visa, credentialing, and licensing process. Plus, an experienced agency like Global Medical Staffing not only knows the facilities well and can help ensure a great fit, but they also understand each country’s healthcare rules and regulations as well as the medical malpractice differences.

Connect with Global Medical Staffing

Once you’ve returned from your adventure abroad, your Weatherby consultant will be there to help you arrange your next locums assignment stateside.

Interested in learning more about locum tenens jobs abroad? Give us a call or view today’s international physician job opportunities.

About the author

Elizabeth Cornwall

Liz is a communications manager based in Salt Lake City. For more than a decade, she’s done a little bit of everything in the communications world — from writing about locum tenens and travel nursing, to working as an executive speech writer, to becoming a social media influencer in the world of micro goldendoodles.