Last July—a year after graduating and in the process of a chief residency—hospitalist Manuel O. Gonzalez, MD, decided to explore the locum tenens practice alternative.
“At the time, I didn’t want to be limited, or commit to a year or more at one facility or area,” he says. “So, I looked into the locum tenens option and liked the flexibility it would offer.”
As Dr. Gonzalez did most of his training in a major city, he wanted to see what it would be like to practice in a rural setting.
“I wanted to try out new locations before making long-term career plans,” he recalls. “Honestly, I was curious about practice in other places and how it would compare with delivering care in a metropolitan area. I knew there would be exposure to different patient populations, as well as certain types of injuries and illnesses, which are more prominent in some regions than others.”
Dr. Gonzalez’s initial assignments took him to other parts of the Northeast, where he was able to easily meet his objective.
“I accepted locum tenens engagements for 6 months before returning home,” he says. “It was a wonderful, truly positive experience.”
Six weeks ago, Dr. Gonzalez entered into a fellowship in gastroenterology. He intends to add to his positive experiences by working locum tenens on the weekends. What’s his advice for clinicians who are right out of residency or soon to graduate?
“Consider working as an independent contractor before making a long-term commitment,” says Gonzalez. “Locum tenens practice offers physicians and advanced practice providers a great transition. In addition to traveling to different facilities and new places, everything—from transportation to accommodations—was taken care of for me. I earned a great income and had no malpractice insurance expenses or housing costs. Everything was so easy; I even referred several of my colleagues to Weatherby.”
If you started taking locum tenens jobs after residency, what was your motivation? Were you interested in expanding your professional experience? Perhaps, like Dr. Gonzalez, you were eager to explore new opportunities. Then again, you could’ve desired more control over your schedule or—after numerous years of intense, post-grad training—the ability to practice fewer hours, rejuvenate, and consider future plans.
However you arrived at your decision to practice locum tenens, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.