What are locum doctors?
Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that means to hold the place and is used to describe when a physician works temporarily in a hospital or other healthcare clinic. A locum tenens physician allows healthcare providers to cover another physician’s vacation/medical leave, account for increased patient demand, or fill a gap while a new, permanent physician is searched for. The appropriate number and mix of locum tenens physicians allows healthcare organizations to provide quality healthcare to their patient populations, while offering doctors more flexibility, extra income, the ability to travel, and exposure to new and evolving patient care environments.
Why Locum Agencies are a good consideration for doctors
Doctors are able to search for locum tenens jobs themselves by searching online job boards, networking with peers and even calling the hospitals and clinics in the area they wish to work. While doctors are able to manage their own locum tenens careers, there are significant benefits for working with a staffing agency to find work. Staffing agencies offer access to multiple job postings in one place, allowing you to plan your next assignment and have the details in place before your current job assignment ends. Other benefits include:
- Licensing and Credentialing
- Many staffing agencies will handle the documentation and verification process and act as a liaison between the physicians, states boards, and various offices that are contacted during the application process. Some credentialing applications can be over 150 pages long and oftentimes physicians don’t hold a medical license in the state they are applying to for. Having a locum tenens agency that is experienced with the processes ensures that you will be able to start the new position in a timely manner.
- Travel and housing expertise
- Many staffing agencies can assist with travel and housing arrangement, as well as are able to discuss reimbursement as part of the negotiation process.
- Malpractice Coverage
- It is common for the staffing agency to provide some form of malpractice coverage in the contract, however, details and coverage limits may vary. Malpractice coverage is an important part of being a locum tenens physician and having an agency assist in navigating the requirements is helpful. It is important to know your obligations ahead of time as malpractice insurance can be a significant cost that may impact your decision on a particular locum tenens job.
- Working directly with a locum tenens staffing agency allows you to negotiate the rate, shift preference, start date, days off and other job details important to you. Locum tenens physicians typically earn more per hour when compared to a permanent medical position and sometimes the staffing agency can help negotiate a higher rate than you would have been able to on your own given their relationship with the facility.
- Finding a wide variety of assignments
- A good locum tenens agency can help you find a high paying job, but also the one that best suits what you are looking for. The highest paying job and your personal needs and comfort levels may not always go hand in hand. For example, the highest paying job may be in an extremely rural area where you are the only provider with limited support to back you up. Instead, you might feel more comfortable working a job in a larger hospital with access to subspecialty support for only a few dollars less in pay. In the end, the best match may not always be the highest paying job, but agencies should have access to a wide variety of options.
Tips to keep in mind when choosing locum agencies for doctors
Choosing an agency is an important choice that will help you achieve your career goals. You have the right to evaluate different firms and choose the agency that best represents you. Keep these tips in mind when making your decision.
- Vet your agency
- Today there are tons of options available for physicians to choose from. Before you choose the company you wish to partner with, you should vet your options. Ask the company how long they have been in business and who their clients are. Check how many positions they have available and at what rate new jobs are added. Evaluate their level of professionalism and ask if any of their recruiters specialize in your discipline. You are counting on this company to be your lifeline to new job opportunities, so make sure they are a good choice for you before you commit.
- Don’t spread yourself too thin
- Many doctors find it beneficial to partner with more multiple firms as it increases the job options they have available to them. However, working with too many can be problematic. If your CV is too widely circulated it can make you look desperate for a position, as well as create confusion with employers on who your staffing agency is. Many recruiters also shy away from partnering with a doctor if they think their resume has been over shopped.
- Be clear about your needs
- While the ability to operate as a locum tenens physician is exciting because of all the benefits it brings, remember that wants and needs of a position can greatly differ. To keep a realistic vision of what you need in a position, determine the type of position, pay, and location you need with personal requirements like loved ones and pets in mind. Keeping a realistic goal allows agencies to accurately present you to employers matching those needs.
- Ask what they bring to the table
- Make sure that the agency provides some form of malpractice insurance, and check to see if they offer services such as licensing, credentialing, travel and housing arrangements. What sets them apart from the other agencies out there? Do they have a team to manage the hassles or will you be expected to do a majority of the paperwork?
- Geographic coverage
- It is important to consider if the agency is big enough to help you reach your goals. If you are looking to travel further or internationally, a larger agency may be a better fit for you. Some locum tenens agencies will focus on a specific region, such as the southwest, which will limit your options for travel.
We have found over the years that the decision to become a locum tenens doctor is a highly personal one. Some of our providers are looking for more flexibility that allows them to spend time at home, and some are looking for exciting travel opportunities. Here are the top reasons our physicians gave us when we asked why they are interested in locum tenens:
- Flexibility (tied for first)
- Additional Income (tied for first)
- Opportunities in telemedicine
- Ways to fill additional availability
- New doctor (gaining different types of experience, ease of getting experience early in career, etc.)
- Travel opportunities
Whatever your reason, a locum tenens agency can help you find the best fit for your lifestyle. At Lucidity, we take all your preferences into consideration and send you only the best job matches for you, taking out the need to search multiple job boards to find the right fit. If you’re ready to jump into the world of locums, join the Lucidity network today.