Top Four Things Only Locum Tenens Understand


Let’s face it. People who don’t work within the medical community may not be familiar with the term locum tenens. When you meet someone for the first time and tell them that you’re a locum tenens physician, you may have to explain exactly what that means. This usually triggers a series of questions, and you have to find the best way to explain your job. At the end of the day, though, it’s actually really hard to explain to people all the ins and outs of being a locum tenens. This goes for fellow physicians as well. People working in the healthcare field full-time have their own set of assumptions about those who work temporary assignments. Sometimes, people have to experience the lifestyle for themselves to completely get it. With that said, here are the top four things only locum tenens understand.

Four Things Only Locum Tenens Understand

things only locum tenens understand

Black nurse portrait

From the importance of your recruiter to the challenges with licensing – here are the top four things only locum tenens understand.

Your recruiter is your lifeline

The value of having a good recruiter is one of those things only locum tenens understand. Your recruiter is the person who’s going to help you find assignments. If you have a dishonest recruiter or someone who can’t be straightforward with you, this can lead you to assignments that aren’t what you expected. It’s important to ask lots of questions when you’re first meeting a recruiter. You should make sure you feel like you can have an open and honest conversation with them. If they don’t respond to your phone calls or emails fast enough, or your personalities don’t click, you may want to find a different one. Your recruiter is almost more important than you’re hiring agency when it comes to working as a locum tenens doctor.

Locum Tenens are no less qualified than “regular” physicians

You’ve heard the question before – “so, you’re kind of like a substitute?” Although that’s technically what the words “locum tenens” mean, locum tenens are no less qualified or experienced than physicians who are working permanent, full-time positions. Locum tenens fill in at hospitals where there’s gaps in staff. However, some practices have locum tenens or contract physicians that are working there full-time. Although there’s lots of history and information out there about locum tenens, the stereotypes or assumptions about them are some of those frustrating things only locum tenens understand.

Things aren’t always how they seem

When you’re a locum tenens, you realize that things aren’t always as they seem. Sometimes you ask all the right questions about an assignment, but when you get there you realize you’ve been lied to. There’s nothing worse than arriving at a job only to find out that it’s not as it was presented to you. And don’t even get us started on what happens when your temporary housing arrangement isn’t what you expected. However, that’s a chance you take when you take a temporary position, especially if it’s somewhere far away or at a healthcare facility you’ve never heard of before.

You need a license for that

Not just anyone can be a locum tenens. Although, like I mentioned above, there are people out there who assume that locum tenens aren’t technically physicians or are less qualified, that’s not true. In fact, when you’re working as a locum tenens you need to have a license in every state that you want to accept an assignment in. This means that you’re not just passing an exam or being reviewed by one state board but by many. Sometimes this process can be a lot of work, but luckily there is now an interstate licensure compact. The licensure compact is one license that permits doctors to work in various states instead of getting licensed in each state individually. This removes some of the red tape surrounding locum tenens licensing.

Can you think of additional things only locum tenens understand? Share with us in the comments below!

Author: Lenay Ruhl

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