Here’s the setting: you’re at the grocery store and you run into a friend you had way back during your undergrad years that you probably haven’t seen since you attended your last toga-party. They shoot the same old small-talk and ask, “what’s new with you?” You tell them you’ve been exploring new places as a locum tenens. The response is almost always the same…”as a…what?!” “What is a locum tenens??”
What is a locum tenens?
First of all, locum tenens is a Latin phrase meaning “one holding a place.” And the “place” healthcare professionals hold is a very important one. Locums are the ones who can fill in for permanent staff when they cannot work, help fill the gaps in healthcare shortages, and be called on in in short notice to provide extra support to facilities all over. Really, these are the people that can prevent total chaos in some practices until a solution is met.
That distant acquaintance at the market who doesn’t know what our fancy career choices definitely needs to know what its like being a locum tenens.
“What’s a locum tenens assignment like?”
Locum tenens assignments are as unique as you are. They come in all specialties, hours, and length of employment. Some may only be a few brief weeks and others may last half a year or more. Sometimes, the temporary position leads to full-time jobs depending on the needs.
It’s extremely easy to find these jobs because job recruiters are really helpful and look out for your best interest. After all, they earn money when you earn money. All you have to do is fill out quick online applications, and as long as you’re qualified, you get contacted in a reasonable amount of time. In order to perpetually be employed in these positions, you realize quickly that keeping contact with recruiters is a must.
There are a few reasons why a person chooses to be a locum tenens:
- Trying out new things. Choosing the locum life is choosing an adventurous one! For physicians, nurse practitioners, and other skilled medical professionals; it’s a brilliant way to see new geographic locations and get a sample of a different culture.
- Avoiding commitment.Unfortunately, a lot of residents say they aren’t happy where they’re working. But, when you are in a permanent position it can feel like you’ve stepped in quicksand that is just sinking you into more and more doubts about your job satisfaction. Interim physician jobs are temporary so there’s contracts and need to stay. If you’re someone who is unsure about wanting to live in a certain area, it’s a great way to dip your toes before diving in head on. It’s a very practical way to avoid getting stuck in a hospital or a city that you aren’t compatible with.
- Flexible schedule. Even medical doctors can desire less strict routines! Locum lifestyles are all about making your job malleable. For older healthcare professionals, sometimes they want to keep busy but don’t necessarily want to work 12 months out of the year. Or, maybe your significant other needs to relocate for their job and you want to accompany them.
- Extra income. Because locum tenens jobs need to be filled so quickly and temporarily, they pay handsomely. Hospitals pay absurd amounts of money to locum tenens because they only hire them when they are desperate to fill staffing-gaps. According to locumtenens.com, this is the average pay scale by specialty for locums:
Specialty Income – (per 8-hour day)CRNA: $720 to $880Family Practice: $520 to $640Internal Medicine: $520 to $640Pediatrics: $520 to $620OB/GYN: $600 to $800Hospitalist: $650 to $850General Surgeon: $650 to $750Orthopedic Surgeon: $800 to $900Neurosurgeon: $1,300 to $1,400Anesthesiologist: $1,000 to $1,500Psychiatrist: $500 to $600Radiologist: $1,200 to $1,500Cardiologist: $600 to $750
So the next time you need to explain to someone what a locum tenens is, put it like this: “I’m a traveling healthcare specialist making twice what the permanent-counterparts are making AND getting to explore.” (….I’m betting their jobs post toga-party days are not nearly as rewarding!)