Making the switch from working in a permanent position to working as a locum tenens NP sounds intimidating. You may not know what to expect or if it will be a good fit for you.
While it may sound challenging, working as a locums nurse practitioner is an exciting career path thousands of NPs across the country have chosen to pursue. Many NPs have found locums gives them more flexibility, more control over their career and income, and opportunities for growth.
The pros of working as a locum tenens NP
Patricia Gambrell worked as an ICU nurse for twenty years before deciding she wanted to become an NP. She ultimately chose to start working as a full-time locum tenens NP because of the freedom it gave her.
“I like locums because it gives me a lot more control over my schedule so I’m not dependent on trying to find somebody else to cover when I’m not at work,” Gambrell says.
Gambrell’s scheduled changed from 12-hour days to 8-hour days as a locum tenens NP, and she now has the ability to work around family and life events. Locums has also allowed her to meet new people, work in different areas, and try new things.
Sasha Dunbar is another NP who began working locum tenens three years ago. She loves having the opportunity to travel and see what a position will be like without making a permanent commitment to it. She also loves that locums work doesn’t consume her life.
“With locums, I’m able to go in and do my job, give my patients what they need, and then have time after that, because I don’t have commitments to whatever company I’m working with for committees and projects and things of that nature,” she says. Plus, in her free time, Dunbar’s able to sightsee and explore, two things she loves.
In addition to flexibility, control, and travel opportunities, locums work gives NPs exposure to how different practitioners and facilities deliver their services, making it a valuable learning experience no matter where your career takes you.
The cons of locum tenens
Working as a locum tenens NP has its challenges as well. One is that you’re not always going to be working at locations Dunbar describes as “good to go.”
“You can walk into situations that can be quite challenging, dealing with patient populations and the social aspects of whatever is going on in a particular location,” she says. Sometimes there are staffing issues that make things difficult, too. The good news is that locum assignments are usually short-term, so even if a situation isn’t ideal, it won’t last forever.
The travel requirements can sometimes be daunting for individuals who don’t enjoy a traveling lifestyle or have a hard time being away from home. While some physicians’ spouses and families accompany them on their locum tenens jobs, that may not work for everyone’s situation. “If you’re a homebody, this is probably not the job for you,” Gambrell says.
Length of assignments
Locums assignments range anywhere from a weekend to several months long. Some assignments last up to a year, but the standard length you can expect is three to four months.
If you work as a locums NP through Weatherby, you’re considered a traveler employee and therefore a W-2 employee. That makes you eligible for a full, flexible benefits package through Weatherby.
Compensation and benefits
The pay for locums NPs is equal to and often greater than the pay you’d receive working as a permanent NP.
Weatherby locums NPs have a variety of health benefits to choose from, with plans that include dental and vision coverage, 401(k), basic life insurance, Teladoc services, and health advocate access. Weatherby benefits are available to you from day one of an assignment.
Plan for the paperwork
Well before accepting your first assignment, you’ll want to get started on your paperwork. It’s a good idea to begin working on licensing and credentialing as early as six months before you want to start working as a locum tenens NP.
Part-time work in certain specialties, such as family care, may not be easily available for locums NPs, but any specialty with shift or on-call work will have many opportunities for part-time work.
Locum NPs don’t have to plan as far ahead for part-time roles as they do full-time roles: typically, 30-45 days in advance is sufficient. Weatherby can help match you to a role that will best suit your needs.
Taking that first step toward working as a locum tenens NP can be intimidating, but with Weatherby, you’ll have our help every step of the way to make your experience the best it can be.