Let's start at the beginning: What is locum tenens?
Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that literally means "to hold the place of." Locum tenens doctors contract with recruitment agencies to perform medical services for a hospital or healthcare organization for a specified time. The contracts are temporary, and are sometimes used to fill a gap while a hospital finds a permanent physician, hence the Latin phrase.
But locum physicians are much more than placeholders. The swift growth and changing environment of healthcare in the U.S. have made locum tenens positions incredibly attractive to both doctors and hospitals.
Why Work Locum?
There are a number of reasons a doctor might consider working locum tenens rather than setting up a more traditional practice, not the least of which is salary. Locum Tenens positions, in general, have higher pay scales.
Doctors who work locum tenens also have the flexibility to choose their schedule and location and have the opportunity to see a variety of medical cases. In essence, locum doctors can operate as independent contractors of medicine—going where they are needed to provide healthcare that is needed.
Why Are Locum Tenens Physicians Needed?
According to the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations:
Physicians can be contracted for any number of reasons, from compensating for physician shortage to covering a permanent doctor’s vacation leave. Healthcare facilities benefit from locum tenens contracts by covering gaps in patient care during periods of growth or physician shortage. The industry continues to grow as more physicians choose this way of practicing medicine and healthcare organizations discover the value of locum tenens staffing.
What Makes Locum Tenens Positions Different?
Making a career of locum tenens does require a certain level of flexibility and adaptability. It may not be perfect for everyone, but it is a rapidly growing field with truly great opportunities for physicians looking to practice where they are needed the most.
If you're a physician looking for a change, or a locum doctor looking for your next contract, get in touch with one of our recruiters today.