According to Webster’s the Latin ‘locum tenens’, or locum for short, means, “place holder” or “holding the place of another” and while it can refer to any position it’s most often used in reference to a clergyman or physician. In the case of health care professionals it means temporarily filling in at a hospital or other care facility that finds itself short-staffed or with a staff member on temporary leave. Although freelance locum professionals are not unheard of the vast majority work through an agency dedicated to matching clients with those desiring locum positions. With the current shortage of physicians and other healthcare professionals the demand for locum personnel is high and the benefits can be very attractive.
On average, locum assignments last from three to six months. Locum work offers an excellent opportunity to evaluate a facility, or many facilities, and the locale before accepting a permanent position, and it’s not uncommon that an assignment will lead to an offer. This is especially attractive to those just out of medical school looking for a home, for older, retired professionals looking to keep on working, or those who for one reason or another are unhappy with their current position and looking for a change. And it’s also an opportunity to develop valuable, lasting professional relationships.
Of course, for those who love to travel, locum assignments are the perfect way to mix work with pleasure, allowing just enough time in a location to get a feel for it and see the sights, make new friends and memories, before moving on to the next one. It can be an exciting and adventure filled career choice.
But probably the best benefit of working locum is the pay. Because of the high demand, health care professionals can expect to make as much as 50% more than at a permanent post. That’s with housing, insurance and travel expenses included. It can be stressful work, adapting to new positions, places and situations constantly, but the rewards are high.
Those considering locum opportunities should find a reputable agency that specializes in locum assignments for healthcare professionals. An agency already has the contacts, the clients and the expertise. Working with an agency will save the hassle of finding positions, negotiating salary and benefits and all the other details and is well worth the investment.