While many physicians appreciate the benefits of locum tenens — schedule flexibility, great pay, work/life balance — not all physicians want to hop on a plane and spend an extended time away from their families. But you may be surprised that this isn’t your only option. It is possible to find locum tenens opportunities close to home, which can be a nice option for those physicians who want to stay near family or avoid traveling long distances. By working with a dedicated Weatherby consultant, it’s possible to find many locum tenens opportunities close to home.
Many physicians opt to forego locum tenens placements in far-flung destinations, instead pursuing opportunities in more comfortable, local hospitals and clinics.
Bolster your income with local locum tenens while working your full-time job
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mark Kowalski has a private practice based in Oklahoma City. Dr. Kowalski felt that he wasn’t earning as much as he could due to changes in the healthcare system like Medicare reimbursements, an increasing patient load, and hospital consolidations.
“Locum tenens felt like a way to make additional income on the weekends, and there were spots available in Oklahoma, so I took the chance,” Dr. Kowalksi says.
Dr. Kowalski takes local assignments that are doable for a weekend so that he can also focus on his private practice. Typically, he’ll drive around 1 – 2 hours to his assignments and then stay at a nearby hotel for the weekend. This means back-to-back work with his full-time job, but much of that time is spent on call and not actually in a hospital.
While many doctors pick up locum tenens shifts while working a full-time job, there are those who have chosen locum tenens as their full-time career — and love it. There are enough locum tenens jobs available nationwide to have assignments continuously lined up. Doctors who work locum tenens full time enjoy complete control over their schedule and say they have found the ultimate in work/life balance.
If you are interested in working locums full time or close to home, talk to your Weatherby consultant. Locums are in high demand in many areas to keep you busy full time within driving distance.
To experience different practice settings and procedures
Dr. Michael Cormican, a trauma surgeon and critical care intensivist, jumped at the chance to pursue local locum tenens opportunities near his home base of Gainesville, Georgia, just northeast of Atlanta. One of his major draws? The ability to get insider knowledge on the workings of other institutions.
“I enjoy dropping into other places and seeing how things run. I enjoy seeing a different side of things, seeing different hospitals, and getting to know different people. And then, as well, seeing how other places do things while also trying to impart my ways to these different places.”
Other reasons for pursuing locum tenens jobs in nearby communities include ease of travel, the ability to manage work/life balance, and the chance to make a difference for your neighbors.
There are several ways to find these unique opportunities to work as a locum tenens near your home base.
Dr. Roseann Freundel, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist from Virginia, transitioned to more local opportunities via an evolution from her original locum tenens placements in locations further afield.
“Some of the assignments that I originally had were up in Maine or California. Some of them required an 18- to 20-hour travel day and three planes. Just for my own sanity and energy level, I asked my locum tenens agent if they could find something a little bit closer to home so that I would not be spending so much travel time.”
“Now, my placement is four hours away by car.”
Dr. Kamlesh Jha is originally from India but has practiced medicine in a variety of capacities in North America — both the Yukon, Canada, and around the United States — since 2005. His most recent work is as a neonatologist in Chicago. He leaned on healthcare staffing agencies like Weatherby to connect him to nearby locum tenens jobs in the Midwest.
“Since working with them, I have taken calls at a University of Chicago satellite unit, Ingalls Memorial Hospital. And recently, I accepted an assignment through Weatherby in Indiana at the Extension Health Center.”
Reasons to work with an agency to find local locum jobs
Some physicians have chosen to secure their own local locum tenens jobs themselves. Going this route requires a certain level of comfort negotiating your terms with the healthcare facility. It also requires you to secure your own licenses and credentialing. You’ll be responsible for obtaining malpractice insurance, as well as paying for any travel expenses incurred. Locum tenens agencies take care of all these details for you, making your locum tenens experience seamless and relatively pain free. They also have well-established relationships with healthcare facilities nationwide, and have more access to jobs — sometimes before they’re even posted.
What types of local locum tenens jobs are available?
Dr. Freundel is happy with the selection of locum tenens assignments within driving distance. “There are five hospitals that I have been able to get placements at that are within a reasonable driving distance, anywhere from one to five hours from my home. That is very doable.” Her assignments vary from overnight stays to day trips.
Dr. Stephanie Bui, a vascular surgeon, meanwhile, takes a different approach. Her locum tenens placement typically lasts a week to 10 days at a time and is located about an hour and a half outside of Kansas City. “I go there and I stay there because of being on call. I do not commute every day. I just go and then stay there for the remainder.”
Dr. Cormican enjoys the short commute: “One of my placements is literally about two miles away. The other one is about five miles away, and the third one is probably 10 to 15 miles away. Those have been pretty easy and really convenient.“
With so many locum tenens assignments to choose from, physicians interested in working local locum tenens have a wide variety of options, and most preferences can be matched.
Additional benefits of taking locum tenens assignments close to home
The upsides of working locum tenens are well established; however, a local placement unveils even more unique perks — like a cherry on top.
Dr. Freundel shares: “I could more easily travel back and forth, which allows me to shorten the length of some of my assignments, take a couple of days off, and then come back instead of being stuck up there for weeks.”
She also found that local locum tenens assignments allowed her to better manage her household duties, making home-owning less stressful.
“There are things you need to do, like pay bills and keep up with house stuff. If you are away for a significant period of time, I would have no one to take over those chores. Now, it is a lot easier.”
Tangible opportunity for professional development
Dr. Cormican has found great satisfaction in the perspectives he’s gained from his local locum tenens placements.
“My background is more surgical critical care, and most of the locums jobs I have done have been more medical critical care. The surgical and medical world is totally different, and so seeing from that perspective has been pretty helpful.”
“It’s definitely helped me see there are a million different ways to get to the right result.”
Access to more competitive jobs and unique medical technology
Dr. Jha has used his locum tenens placements to get access to work that would otherwise be unavailable to him. “In Chicago, there is a lot of competition. Most of the hospitals are located here, so many times, you may not get into a level III trauma center as locums because there are already a lot of people working in that institute. I wanted to do intensive care after my training, and I did not want to do lower-level work.”
He is also attracted to new equipment that might not be available at his normal work facility. “With access to level III jobs, I can use technology that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to, for post-op cardiac management.”
The work that Dr. Kowalski does varies. In his full-time work, he’s more focused on sports medicine. But for locum tenens, “It’s anything that they throw at me essentially. It’s a great opportunity to sharpen my skills and breadth of practice,” said Dr. Kowalski.
The chance to try out new tech, work in higher-paced settings, or find work otherwise unavailable to you — or hard to get — is an upside of pursuing local locum tenens on top of your full-time gig.