What is a Locum Doctor and Why Are They Important?

What is a Locum Doctor and Why Are They Important?

What is a locum doctor? Locum. Noun. A person who stands in temporarily for someone else of the same profession, especially a cleric or doctor. Locum doctors fill temporary positions at hospitals and medical practices across the country, traditionally for a few weeks or months at a time.  There are many reasons a healthcare facility may need to hire a locum doctor. There may be someone out on maternity leave, or the facility may need someone who is skilled in a certain department to temporarily guide new, recent graduate staff. No matter the reason for the available position, locum tenens doctors are very important. They close those existing gaps in healthcare across the country.

What is a Locum Doctor and Why Should You Consider It?

What is a locum doctor, or what kind of people are working as locum doctors? Anyone who has a medical degree and at least one year of experience working in the field can work as a locum doctor. There are positions in practically every specialty. These range from family practice locum tenens physician jobs to urgent care locum tenens physician jobs. You might still be on the fence when it comes to jumping into a locum tenens career. It’s certainly a change of pace and can be a big commitment. This is especially the case if you decide to take an assignment far away. However, it’s important that you know just how vital this career is. With a healthcare worker shortage in full swing, a locum tenens is often the oil that keeps the healthcare machine running smoothly. In fact, the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations NALTO estimates that locum tenens practitioners are utilized in three-quarters of all hospitals to augment their permanent medical staff.

There are many reasons to try a locum tenens physician job, but here are the top three things to consider if you are thinking about becoming a travel doctor!

what is a locum doctor

Travel

The most obvious consideration for becoming a locum doctor is that you will be traveling. You can take positions all across the country. Definitely think long and hard about how comfortable you are being away from home. For example, if you have children and a spouse, you might not want to leave them. However, you can also take them with you. Many locum tenens physicians are younger doctors who don’t have families and love to travel. They also consist of older doctors who no longer have their families to care for and want to see the country. Yet, there are some locum tenens doctors who bring their entire families with them on assignment. Traveling for work is a unique lifestyle. Be sure to think about how that will fit with your current situation, whether you’re single or not. The perk to being a travel doctor, though, is that you will get to experience life in many different places.

The Flexibility

Another major issue that many healthcare facilities might face is simply not having the right people in the area to perform a specific job. The most qualified applicant may not live within commuting distance to the hospital that needs them most. Hiring locum tenens will give them the opportunity to hire someone with the exact set of skills they’re looking for. Practices from rural or underserved areas need help with staffing for obvious reasons. In many cases, there simply aren’t enough medical professionals in the area. This is why locum tenens are often used. As a locum tenens, you’ll be wanted by your employer, which is always a good feeling.

New Experiences

The second thing to consider about becoming a locum doctor is improving your skillset. Not only will you gain experience traveling to new places, but you will also gain experience in your professional career. Think about it. You will arrive at a new hospital and be thrown into their daily grind. Perhaps you’ll be working in a rural area where you might care for patients outside of your normal specialty simply because there is a lack of physicians available. You’ll also meet new colleagues in your field and hopefully be able to learn from them too. Your patients may wonder, “what is a locum doctor?” You’ll have the chance to show them that doctors filling temporary positions aren’t under-qualified simply because they’re unfamiliar. They are indeed talented and top-notch physicians!

Avoiding Burnout

Another major issue that a healthcare facility will face is physician burnout. The stats show that the number of physician suicides is growing at an alarming rate. Bringing in locum tenens physicians can help alleviate stress levels of permanent providers. Locums do this by helping them manage realistic schedules and maintain a better work-life balance. Patients will also get a better quality of care. A locum tenens will provide relief for permanent staff and ensure that patients are getting the best care possible.

Physician Shortages

Probably the most important thing to consider when thinking about becoming a travel doctor is that there is a need across the country for more physicians. By filling in temporarily, you’re alleviating that need for that hospital in particular. Since locum tenens positions need to be filled quickly, they often offer better pay than full-time doctor positions. Locum tenens doctors also seem to have a lower risk of physician burnout. This is likely because they’re not working the same job day after day, year after year.

In March 2015, the Association of American Medical Colleges published a report that projected a shortage of 46,000 to 90,000 physicians by 2025. Specifically, the AAMC projects a shortfall of 31,100 primary care providers and 63,700 specialist providers. The AAMC recognizes that even the growth of nurse practitioners and physician assistants cannot fully fill this gap. So, what else can we do? Well, this is where a locum tenens comes into play. Many healthcare facilities are turning to locum tenens to fill these gaps. When it comes to the importance of locum tenens, filling in those gaps to ensure that the healthcare landscape remains optimistic.

COVID-19 Aid

The Coronavirus pandemic has not only furthered the shortage of physicians due to high demand of doctors during this time, but it has also created burnout among healthcare workers. By stepping into a new locum tenens position, one can bring in fresh motivation and skills to a hospital in need.

Hospitals are filling with more sick patients than ever before. Locum doctors are important during the pandemic because they can quickly fill positions in order to keep patients healthy and hospitals well-staffed. States like Florida and New York are current hot spots for the virus and are in need of locum doctors.

It is also important to realize that doctors are not immune from contracting the virus themselves. While doctors wear protective equipment, some are still getting sick from treating patients. This is the perfect opportunity for locum doctors to fulfill the roles of sick doctors so patients can continue to heal. 

Healthcare workers are critical to the country during this time. They have saved countless lives by putting themselves at risk of illness. Locum tenens are an important part of this life-saving work as they travel to different locations to help fill in the gaps of overwhelmed hospitals.

Is there a state that you’ve heard about in the news that is in need of help during the pandemic? Why not consider taking a locum tenens position in one of those locations?

Now that you have the answer to the question, what is a locum doctor, and understand how important locum tenens physician jobs are, consider applying today! We have thousands of jobs available. It’s time to start your next adventure!

Author: Lenay Ruhl

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