How to work locum tenens while maintaining a private practice

Locum tenens private practice

Looking to get ahead in your private practice? If you’re a doctor in private practice who’s looking to supplement your income or transition into a new field of expertise, working locum tenens can be the perfect stepping stone. Here’s how two physicians have used locums to their advantage, while managing the demands of a private practice.

Close-to-home weekend assignments

Dr. Mark Kowalski, an orthopedic surgeon who owns a private practice in Oklahoma City, decided to try working locum tenens on the weekends to supplement his income.

“Because of the decrease in reimbursement and the increase in regulation by the government, it’s hard to make a living in private practice,” Dr. Kowalski explains. “A couple of years ago it was a combination of those two things that made me think ‘Hey, maybe I should consider moonlighting to a degree and just seeing if I can bring some additional income in for the family.’”

Dr. Kowalski has now been balancing locum tenens with his private practice since 2017, and his main strategy is to take assignments close to home.

“It makes sense for me to get to a local assignment if I can, and then I can block out a little bit of travel time to get back from to the office and continue with the rest of my week.”

Coverage while you’re away

Dr. Mark Kowalski
Dr. Mark Kowalski

Another effective strategy to balancing locums with your private practice is to make sure your work is delegated so your patients get the help they need when you’re gone.

Dr. Kowalski relates, “I have an answering service so if there’s a question or problems I can always be reached. That said, when I’m away I will have one of my colleagues who is usually on call in the emergency room to cover for me in case something happens. It’s unusual that anything like that happens because my practice is mostly outpatient, so things are usually pretty quiet on the weekend anyway.”

The extra income has allowed Dr. Kowalski to maintain his private practice, but he enjoys working locums so much he may switch to working locums full time in the next few years.

“At some point, I probably will stop my private practice and then just do full-time locums, which will allow me more time to go out and see different areas of the country but also to actually say, ‘Ok, this week I’m not working. Let’s take a trip.’”

RELATED: From Private Practice to Locum Tenens: Building Relationships with Patients

Locums as a way to transition

After coming to Chicago from Uganda, Dr. Edward Babigumira ran a pain management clinic for 10 years. At that point, he wanted to transition back to his earlier work in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

“I took a locums job and that accelerated my transition to my full-time job in acute rehab.”

When asked how he manages his time while working locums, Dr. Babigumira said, “Since I’m independent, I can control my work schedule. I usually stay in a hotel, I see my patients Monday morning and do any admission work I may have before I head back for the rest of the day to see patients at my other job. I go back and forth. It works. It’s a long drive (100 miles) but it works out for me. I like the location and it was an easy transition. It’s just the long commute. Other than that it’s fine.”

Despite the long commute, Dr. Babigumira has enjoyed a multitude of benefits from working locum tenens on the side.

“It’s a nice little source of income and it’s really satisfying. While I find the extra income to be good, the change of scenery is good too. After doing the same job day in and day out, I enjoyed how locums changes things up. You work with a new team, and I find that interesting. You learn new things as well and break out of your routine. So, locums has quite a few advantages.”

Are you looking to make more money or advance your career? We can build a locums schedule that works with your lifestyle. Give us a call at 954.343.3050 for a consultation.

About the author

Sharon Benedict

Sharon Benedict is a freelance copywriter and author of seven books who began her career as a technical writer for 3M Health Information Systems. She has six years' ad agency experience and is trained in the StoryBrand framework, which she uses to find and tell compelling stories.

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