Becoming a physician is not an easy or economical task. As you well know, the upfront investment required to pursue a medical degree is massive and not easily recouped. In fact, the majority of doctors accrue even more debt throughout their residency and fellowship, since these positions don’t typically pay enough to support the cost of living in big cities, where many large teaching hospitals are located.
A recent Forbes article discussed the negative consequences of this system — which often leaves new doctors with an average of $150,000 in student loans. The author of the piece, Dr. Nisha Mehta, mentioned several worrisome issues that accompany this overwhelming price tag:
Less diversity amongst physicians
Dr. Mehta stresses that more than half of all medical students in the United States come from families in the top fifth for family income. She notes that this raises concerns for students of lower socioeconomic status, who face even more barriers to entry of qualified applicants in the field.
Fewer primary care providers
With mounting student loans to repay, medical students are more inclined to choose their specialty based solely on reimbursement potential. Since primary care doesn’t typically pay as well, physicians will most likely continue to shift away from this specialty. Thus, the shortage of primary care providers will only get worse.
Shifting physician culture
In the past, aspiring doctors were drawn to making a difference in their patients’ lives. But increasing financial pressures are forcing doctors to focus instead on the bottom line. Unfortunately, this means underserved patient populations have less access to care and doctor-patient relationships are strained.
Decreasing numbers of physician scientists
Medical advancements rely on the scientific progress, which requires physicians to guide research in the right direction. But doctors at academic medical centers make significantly less than their colleagues in private practice. Rising debt may leave fewer physicians with the financial means to take academic positions.
Fortunately, doctors who are struggling to pay back medical school loans — or any other debt, such as a down payment on a house or an investment in a private practice — can turn to locum tenens jobs to enhance their income. Here are three financial advantages to taking locum tenens jobs:
1. Supplemental income
Physicians who hold a permanent staff position can always make extra income on weekends or during their vacation time. And thanks to the flexible scheduling locum tenens opportunities provide, doctors can dedicate as much — or as little — time as they wish.
2. Free housing and travel
Reputable staffing agencies, such as Weatherby Healthcare, foot the bill for all travel and housing costs associated with a locum tenens position. Physicians are free to travel the country, earning supplemental income, without incurring any additional expenses. In fact, with some advanced planning, a full-time locum tenens physician can go directly from one position to the next without the need to pay for a permanent residence.
3. Perpetual work opportunities
Locum tenens positions greatly increase physician employment prospects. Still in residency? No problem! You can get paid to provide locum tenens services during your residency. Waiting for the perfect job offer? Wait no longer. You can always stay busy and pay the bills by taking temporary positions.