A recent report by AMN Healthcare revealed that over the past years, 85% of facility managers in healthcare have turned to locum tenens physicians at least once. Moreover, the number of physicians choosing locum tenens jobs has skyrocketed to 52,000 in 2019, up from 26,000 in 2002.
So, why are healthcare professionals gravitating towards locum tenens assignments? How do they hunt down and apply for these opportunities? What are the pros and cons that come with being a locum tenens provider? And most importantly, how can one excel in this exciting and fulfilling career path?
That’s where this guide comes in. Whether you’ve been a locum tenens provider for years or are a newcomer intrigued by the possibility, this guide is here to help you find your ideal fit. Read on to find out how locum tenens jobs can offer flexibility, variety, independence, income potential, and opportunities for professional growth and personal satisfaction.
Understanding Locum Tenens Jobs
The term ‘Locum Tenens’, which in Latin means “to substitute for”, refers to a temporary staffing model that allows healthcare professionals to take up short-term assignments. These assignments could be at different healthcare facilities, either domestically or internationally. Locum tenens providers, who can range from physicians to advanced practice providers, and allied health professionals, step in when permanent staff are unavailable due to reasons like sickness, maternity leave, or a vacation. They can also pitch in during peak times like flu season or offer specialized services that may not be readily available.
Locum tenens assignments can range in terms of duration, location, setting, and specialty. Some may only last a few days, while others could extend for several months. The assignments could be in rural or urban areas, in hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, nursing homes, or correctional facilities. They could be in primary care, surgery, radiology, psychiatry, or any other specialty.
Advantages of Taking on Locum Tenens Assignment
As a locum tenens provider, you can decide when, where, and how often you want to work. You can set your schedule and manage your workload, taking breaks when you need or want to. This flexibility can help you achieve a better balance between your personal life and your career.
Locum tenens allows you to dabble in different settings and specialties without committing to a long-term contract. It exposes you to a wide range of patient populations and clinical challenges. You also get the chance to learn from various mentors and colleagues and experience new places and cultures.
Locum tenens can stay clear of the hassles and politics that come with permanent employment. They can focus solely on providing top-notch patient care without having to worry about administrative duties, billing issues, or conflicts with staff. They also have more freedom and authority when it comes to their clinical decisions and practice styles.
- Income potential
Working as a locum tenens provider can be financially rewarding. You can negotiate your pay rates and benefits based on your skills and experience. You can also get tax deductions for your travel and housing expenses.
Some locum tenens providers may earn more than permanent staff in the same specialty and location.
- Professional growth
Locum tenens jobs allow you to hone your skills and expand your knowledge by working in different environments and dealing with different situations. You can broaden your clinical expertise and familiarize yourself with new techniques and technologies. Plus, working with a variety of healthcare organizations and colleagues can help you grow your professional network.
- Personal satisfaction
There’s a great deal of satisfaction that comes with knowing you’re helping patients and communities in need. By filling staffing gaps and improving access to care, you can make a positive impact on the healthcare system. Plus, by choosing assignments that align with your interests and values, you can find more joy and fulfillment in your work.
According to a Market Stats Ville Group report the healthcare staffing market was valued at $22.5 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 5.7% from 2023 to 2030. Locum tenens is the only clinical segment that’s expected to see an increase in 2022.
Furthermore, a Locumpedia report suggests that the locum tenens segment could grow by 10% in 2023 and continue to grow in 2024, primarily due to an aging population and a physician workforce that’s nearing retirement age.
Identifying Your Perfect Fit in Locum Tenens
Paving your way in locum tenens is more than just picking an assignment; it’s about finding a work style that aligns with your professional goals, expertise, and lifestyle preferences. The beauty of locum tenens jobs lies in their versatility, providing a tailored solution that caters to unique needs and preferences. To find your perfect match in locum tenens, focus on three key areas: professional goals and expectations, ideal settings and specialties, and lifestyle preferences.
1. Defining Your Professional Goals and Expectations
Kick off your journey in locum tenens by defining your professional aspirations and expectations.
- What are your motivations for choosing locum tenens?
- What are you looking for in a locum tenens assignment?
- What are your short-term and long-term career objectives?
- How do you gauge success and satisfaction in your career?
Answering these questions gives you clarity on your purpose for working in locum tenens. It also equips you to better communicate your goals and expectations to locum tenens agencies and potential employers, enabling them to match you with the best assignments. The crucial factor here is, to be honest and realistic about your desires and needs from locum tenens jobs.
2. Recognizing the Ideal Type of Locum Tenens Assignments
Length of Assignments: Options range from weekend assignments, which supplement your regular work, to ongoing assignments providing stability and chances to build lasting professional relationships. Vacation/FMLA coverage and hybrid assignments offer a balanced combination of routine and flexibility.
Type of Schedule: Depending on your preference, you could opt for day shifts, night shifts, call coverage assignments, or 7 on-7 off schedules. You might also come across rotating shifts, extended shifts, or customized schedules to meet specific needs.
Supervision Details: The degree of supervision in locum tenens can vary depending on the facility’s policies. Understanding whether an assignment offers greater autonomy or requires close collaboration with other healthcare professionals is essential.
3. Considering Your Lifestyle: Flexibility, Travel, and Work-Life Balance
Lastly, think about your lifestyle preferences to ensure your locum tenens assignment doesn’t disrupt your personal life.
Maintaining Continuity of Care
Ensure continuity of care for your primary practice’s patients. Keep open lines of communication with your colleagues regarding your availability and have proper documentation of patient encounters and follow-up plans.
Being Efficient with Logistics
The logistical aspects of starting with locum tenens might seem daunting, from credentialing and licensing to travel and housing. Work with a reputable locum tenens agency to streamline these processes, and keep your CV, licenses, and references updated and organized.
Valuing Your Time
While locum tenens providers can earn a competitive compensation and enjoy tax benefits, be aware of the hidden costs and trade-offs such as time and effort in finding assignments, potential loss of benefits, and possible impact on personal and family life. Besides monetary gains, consider the value of professional growth, personal satisfaction, and social impact.
Preparing the Necessary Documentation for Locum Tenens Assignments
To begin your journey as a locum tenens provider, it’s essential to have all the required documentation at your fingertips. Having these materials updated and readily available saves you time and potential difficulties when applying for locum tenens jobs, and increases your chances of starting your desired assignment promptly.
Here’s a list of necessary documents to keep at hand and ensure they are all accurate, complete, up-to-date, and relevant:
- Cover Letter: This introduces you to potential employers, highlighting your qualifications and explaining your interest in the position.
- Diplomas: These prove the completion of your undergraduate and graduate studies.
- Transcripts: Records of your academic performance during undergraduate and graduate studies.
- References: Contact information of people who can vouch for your professional abilities and character.
- Passport or Driver’s License: Proof of your identity and citizenship.
- Social Security Card: A document showing your social security number.
- DEA Certificate: Proof of your authorization to prescribe controlled substances.
- NPI Number: Your National Provider Identifier Number.
- Immunization Records: Your vaccination history and status.
- TB Test Results: Your tuberculosis test results.
- BLS/ACLS/PALS Certificates: These show you’ve completed basic life support, advanced cardiac life support, and pediatric advanced life support courses.
Digitize these documents and sync them with an online cloud backup system for easy access.
Managing Your Licenses, Certifications, and Credentials
Equally important is maintaining your professional licenses, certifications, and credentials. These are essential documents showing your authorization and qualification to practice in a specific setting or specialty.
- Professional License: Demonstrates your permission to practice in a certain state or jurisdiction.
- Board Certification: Recognition from a specialty board attesting to your competence and knowledge in a particular specialty.
- Specialty Certification: Similar recognition from a specialty organization.
- CME Credits: Records of completed continuing medical education courses or activities.
Ensure these documents are valid, active, current, and comply with the requirements of the locum tenens agency and the employer. Keep them updated and renewed before expiration.
Delegating Your Licensing and Credentialing Process
If managing these documents feels overwhelming, our team is here to simplify the entire process for you. We offer a range of services, from license renewals to assisting foreign graduates in obtaining licenses in any US state. Our team is knowledgeable about licensing requirements across all US states and can get you licensed or credentialed swiftly and without stress.
Our services include:
- Initial State Medical Licensing: Complete licensing process in all 50 states.
- License Renewal: Timely renewal of your license.
- Licensing by Endorsement: Expedited licensing based on your current licensure in eligible states.
- Licensure Maintenance: We monitor your license, remind you of expiration dates, and facilitate automatic renewals.
- Interstate Compact Licensure: We assist with eligibility checks for the IMLC compact license for quicker licensing in multiple states.
- Foreign Graduates Licensing: We facilitate quick licensing for Foreign Medical Graduates in any US state.
- DEA/CSR Registration: Our team will obtain your CSR and/or DEA licenses.
- FCVS Set UP and/or Retrieval: We will complete or retrieve your FCVS profile and send it to the necessary Medical Board.
Taking the stress out of the documentation process allows you to focus on your primary goal: providing quality healthcare as a locum tenens provider.
Is a Long-Term Career in Locum Tenens Possible?
While many see locum tenens as a short-term or transitional option for healthcare professionals, it can provide a satisfying and rewarding long-term career. This is especially true for those who appreciate the flexibility and diversity locum tenens offers. According to a Staff Care survey, 21% of locum tenens providers have been practicing locum tenens for over six years, and 9% for over a decade.
Consider the following professionals who found success in long-term locum tenens:
Dr. David Jessup, an interventional cardiologist, initially viewed locums as lacking the benefits of being part of a permanent team. However, once he began practicing locum tenens himself, he found he relished the flexibility and independence it offered, allowing him to focus on being a doctor rather than a businessperson.
Dr. Umesh Bhandari, a psychiatrist, chose locum tenens early in his career. It enabled him to explore various parts of the United States, avoiding the politics and bureaucracies of a full-time job. His schedule of 7 days on and 7 days off allows him to recharge his mental energy.
Dr. Shyrlena Bogard, an OB/GYN, enjoys the ability to pursue her interests outside medicine while practicing as a locum. Even as a locum, she experiences continuity of care with her patients as she has been working in the same location for three years.
These stories illustrate that locum tenens can be more than just a stopgap; it can be a fulfilling career.
Balancing Locum Tenens with Permanent Positions
According to a Staff Care survey, 47% of locum tenens providers hold permanent positions, and 39% supplement their income with locum tenens assignments. Although this balance can be challenging, it is feasible with the right planning and management.
Here are some strategies to balance multiple roles effectively:
Set realistic and attainable goals: Prioritize your tasks and focus on urgent matters first. Monitor your progress and celebrate your achievements.
Manage your time and energy: Avoid unnecessary tasks and delegate or outsource where possible. Schedule your tasks around your peak performance periods and minimize distractions.
Take breaks and rest: Ensure regular breaks and sufficient rest to avoid burnout. Take vacations or days off when necessary and ensure adequate sleep.
Seek feedback and support: Engage with others for support and improvement. Build positive relationships with colleagues, supervisors, patients, family, and friends.
Learn and grow: Keep learning from your experiences and embrace change and innovation. Share your knowledge and learn from others.
Considering Locum Tenens Assignments: Why It Can Be Beneficial
Locum tenens jobs can be a rewarding and fulfilling career choice for healthcare professionals seeking a change, a challenge, or a way to supplement their regular employment. If you’re a physician, a nurse, an advanced practitioner, or an allied health professional, there are multiple reasons to consider locum tenens assignments:
1. Advancement of Your Career through Diverse Experiences
Locum tenens assignments offer a wide array of experiences and opportunities, which can boost your career progression. By opting for locum tenens jobs, you can:
- Gain extensive clinical experience and exposure to diverse patient demographics and cases.
- Acquire new skills and knowledge from various colleagues and mentors.
- Experience different work settings and specialties, including rural or urban locations, academic or community hospitals, and private or public clinics.
- Explore different regions and cultures while enjoying the perks of travel.
- Enhance your resume with diverse and valuable experiences.
- Earn competitive compensation and benefits.
- Establish your reputation and credibility as a healthcare professional.
2. Expansion of Your Network in the Healthcare Industry
Locum tenens assignments can aid in expanding your professional network within the healthcare industry by connecting you with a variety of people and perspectives. Working as a locum tenens allows you to:
- Meet and interact with various staff members, patients, families, communities, etc.
- Build rapport and trust with colleagues and supervisors.
- Exchange contact information and referrals with peers and employers.
- Receive feedback and guidance from your locum tenens agency and employer.
- Contribute to the improvement and innovation of the healthcare system and profession.
- Access educational or professional development resources.
According to a survey by LocumTenens.com, nearly 90% of healthcare facilities utilize locum tenens staffing, and over half plan to continue doing so in the future. This indicates a high demand and vast potential for networking in the locum tenens field.
Moreover, a report by Grand View Research stated that the U.S. healthcare staffing market size was valued at USD 22.5 billion in 2022 and is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.66% from 2023 to 2030. This implies a growing opportunity and market for locum tenens professionals in the U.S.
Staying Ahead in the Locum Tenens Market: Essential Strategies
The locum tenens market is competitive and dynamic, necessitating that healthcare professionals stay ahead of the curve and adapt to fluctuating demands and opportunities. If you’re looking to succeed and thrive in this market, you need to be proactive, prepared, and professional.
Keeping Up with Industry Trends
Industry trends can significantly influence the supply and demand of locum tenens providers, as well as the rates and benefits they can negotiate. Therefore, it’s crucial to keep up with these trends and understand their impact on your locum tenens career. Here are some resources you can use to stay updated:
These reports are published by various organizations and institutions that analyze the locum tenens market, including its performance, growth, challenges, and opportunities. Some noteworthy sources for industry reports are:
Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA): A global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions, SIA releases numerous reports on the healthcare staffing industry, including locum tenens staffing. They produce the US Staffing Industry Forecast, providing an estimate of the size and growth of the US healthcare staffing market.
Grand View Research: This market research and consulting company provides both syndicated and customized research reports across various industries and markets, including the healthcare staffing industry.
Locumpedia: A media platform that offers news, information, and resources on locum tenens staffing. Locumpedia publishes articles and blogs on various locum tenens topics and conducts exclusive interviews and surveys with experts in the field.
These events bring together locum tenens providers, agencies, employers, and other stakeholders to network, learn, share, and collaborate. Some of the key sources for industry events include:
National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO): NALTO promotes ethical standards and practices in the locum tenens industry. They organize various events such as the NALTO Annual Convention, which features educational sessions and networking opportunities.
Association of Staff Physician Recruiters (ASPR): ASPR organizes various events for the physician recruitment community, including sessions on locum tenens staffing.
American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA): AAPA advocates for the profession and provides education, resources, and support to its members. They host various events such as the AAPA Conference, featuring sessions on topics, including locum tenens staffing.
Regularly Updating Your Skills and Credentials
Skills and credentials form the bedrock of the qualifications and competencies locum tenens providers demonstrate to potential employers and agencies. Thus, regularly updating these aspects is crucial to stay relevant and competitive in the locum tenens market. Below are some ways to keep your skills and credentials updated:
1. Continuing Medical Education (CME):
CME provides lifelong learning to help healthcare professionals maintain or improve their knowledge and skills in their areas of practice. It can also help professionals meet licensure, certification, or credentialing requirements by various boards or organizations. CME can be obtained through sources like online courses, live events, journals, and podcasts. Notable sources of CME include:
Medscape: A leading online source of clinical news, health information, and point-of-care tools for healthcare professionals. Medscape offers CME activities on a range of topics and specialties for healthcare professionals. They also have a CME tracker to manage CME credits and certificates.
American Medical Association (AMA): AMA promotes the art and science of medicine and public health improvement. It offers CME activities on various topics and specialties for healthcare professionals and a CME finder for easily locating suitable CME activities.
American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP): A national professional society providing advocacy, education, information, and resources for family physicians. The AAFP offers a variety of CME activities and a reporting tool to track CME credits and certificates.
2. Certification or Credentialing:
This form of recognition validates the qualifications and competencies of healthcare professionals in their practice areas. It can also help professionals enhance their credibility and marketability in the locum tenens market. Certification or credentialing can be obtained through various boards or organizations. Key sources include:
American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS): A non-profit organization overseeing the certification of physician specialists in the US. It comprises 24 member boards representing different medical specialties and subspecialties. ABMS offers various certification programs that assess the knowledge, skills, and experience of physician specialists.
National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA): A non-profit organization that certifies physician assistants in the US. It administers the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and the Physician Assistant National Recertifying Examination (PANRE). NCCPA also offers specialty certificates of added qualifications (CAQs) for different specialty areas.
American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC): A non-profit organization that certifies nurses in various specialties and roles. ANCC administers various certification exams and offers accreditation programs that recognize the quality and excellence of nursing education, practice, and services.
By regularly updating your skills and credentials, you maintain your competitive edge and ensure that your career remains adaptable to the changing landscape of the locum tenens market.
FAQs About Choosing the Right Locum Tenens Assignment
How to find a reputable locum tenens agency?Locum tenens agencies are in abundance, each offering a unique mix of services and specialties. Use job boards like LocumTenens.com, a valuable resource for searching and applying for locum jobs. The platform offers communication with hiring managers and provides support for credentialing and travel needs. To find top-rated locum tenens agencies, consider seeking referrals from colleagues, reading online reviews, and comparing fees and benefits.
What should I include in my CV for locum tenens positions?A CV tailored to locum tenens jobs should highlight your qualifications, experience, and availability for temporary work. Include key information such as your contact details, educational background, professional training, certifications, licenses, malpractice history, references, and your preferred locations and specialties. Update your CV regularly and tailor it to each position you’re applying for to increase your chances of landing the ideal assignment.
How do I negotiate my contract terms?Before signing any contract, it’s crucial to carefully review and understand its terms and conditions. Ensure that you negotiate aspects important to you, such as compensation, schedule, travel expenses, malpractice coverage, cancellation policy, and the scope of practice. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from a lawyer or an accountant if you encounter any legal or financial ambiguities.
How can I prepare for my first assignment?Preparation is key for your first locum tenens assignment. Do your homework on the healthcare facility, staff, the patient demographic, and the local area. Confirm travel arrangements in advance, pack essential items, and bring copies of necessary documents. Make a good impression by arriving early, introducing yourself to the team, and familiarizing yourself with their policies and procedures.
Can I work on locum tenens assignments while maintaining a permanent job?Yes, it’s possible to take on locum tenens assignments while maintaining a permanent job. This approach can provide supplementary income, enable you to explore new opportunities, and offer a better work-life balance. However, be mindful of potential challenges such as scheduling conflicts, tax implications, credentialing requirements, and the risk of burnout.