Locum Tenens: A Flexible Work Option
After completing your residency, you may want to explore your employment options and travel. If so, locum tenens may be right for you.
Is the Road Warrior Lifestyle Right for You?
The successful locum tenens provider likes to travel. The arrangement also works well for some doctors and nurses close to retirement who want to work a more flexible schedule.
This lifestyle may be a great fit if you:
- Enjoy travel and are OK with being away from “home”
- Possess a go-getter personality
- Seek competitive pay and financial freedom
- Shine as the primary provider on shift
- Thrive on independence
"If you are comfortable with autonomy and working independently, then locum tenens can really work for you," Nick says. "It's a great way to try out different types of practices and locations, without the long-term commitment."
How the Locum Tenens Pay Structure Differs
Taking on locum tenens assignments means you work as a contractor. You typically don’t get benefits like vacation time or sick leave, but you do earn financial freedom and lots of flexibility.
Taking locum tenens assignments means you must take steps to ensure you set aside funds to pay for your:
- Federal and state taxes
- Licensing fees
- Personal medical insurance
- Retirement savings
There’s also the chance that a locum position won’t come to fruition. Plan ahead to ensure you are financially prepared.
“We tell providers to plan for a contingency fund, in case an assignment falls through,” Nick says. “Cancellations can sometimes happen at the last minute.”
How you get paid depends on where and how you work.
- Short-term employment. Hospitals or practices that employ short-term locum tenens providers typically bill under the health insurance panels and Medicare payer credentials of the physician on leave.
- Long-term employment. Health systems using long-term assignments tend to use your own payer credentials to bill for service.
- Agency employment. Physicians working through an agency are independent contractors operating under a 1099. Some agencies employ nurse practitioners and physician assistants who fill assignments for clients. For example, in California, locum tenens NPs and PAs must be employed by an agency. In this case, there may be benefits as part of your employment package.
Compensation through a locum tenens contract differs in many ways from traditional physician compensation. Learn about physician compensation in our resource tool "5 Ways to Ensure You’re Getting a Fair Offer," article.
If locum tenens employment sounds like an option you want to explore, the following resources can help you better understand this type of contract job.
- Learn about the financial side of locum tenens work in our resource tool, "Locum Tenens: What to Expect in Your Contract."
- Read our frequently asked questions in "Locum Tenens: Asking the Right Questions," to get the answers you need about the locum tenens employment.
We are Your Locum Tenens Resource
At Provider Solutions & Development, we are locum tenens experts, offering you guidance on getting started, working with an agency and understanding the finer points of a contract.
Our locum tenens team aligns with an agency operating model, working with you to match your passion and purpose to the right job.
For more than 20 years, PS&D has been helping residents discover locum tenens opportunities within Providence's network. Reach out to one of our experts today for more information about the locum tenens lifestyle. Connect with an Advisor.
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