The long road of medical school, internship and residency is over. You are ready to go out on your own and start your own practice or sign a long-term contract with a medical group. All you have to do is decide on a geographical location, rent office space, get a start-up loan to pay expenses until the money starts coming in. Hire staff. Finally be the one who makes the important business decisions. Be burdened down with organizational issues and financial responsibilities. Or, you can accept a locum tenens position.
Locum tenens is an ancient Latin phrase that literally means “to hold a place.” A physician who does locum tenens holds the place, temporarily, of another physician while that physician is on vacation or taking a leave of absence. The locum tenens position may be to fill a gap in a geographical area or specialty field where there is a physician shortage.
The locum physician usually works as an independent contractor for an agency and is not considered a private practitioner or employee. There are many advantages to a locum career after residency before making a long term commitment.
- You can experience living in a geographical area to see if it is compatible before making a permanent move. You can try living in the country or in a busy metropolitan area without making a long-term commitment.
- The pay is good. In addition to earning what you would in a permanent position, housing expenses are usually covered as well as your malpractice premiums.
- You can even have a part-time schedule in order to free up time to study for your boards.
- Short-term and long-term positions are always available.
- You can explore both private practice as a sole practitioner, group practice or see what it would be like to work as an employee with a managed care organization.
The usual locum tenens assignment is for 13 weeks, but it can be longer or shorter, depending on your needs and the needs of the practice you end up working for. Travel expenses are often covered and you can live life as a tourist while working in your chosen profession earning a premium wage.