The Pros and Cons of Locum Tenens
- Yes, you can do locums after finishing your training, but don’t linger too long if you eventually want a permanent job. Clients often perceive physicians who have been doing locums longer than a year or two as a “locums” physician, and may not be interested in hiring you for a permanent position. Clients consider locum physicians turned perm as “risky” once they have tasted the freedom, flexibility and increased pay of locums.
- Locum is a good way to “try before you buy”, and it is reasonable to do locums for a year or two after training in order to experience different practice settings, and learn what you like and do not like in a practice.
- If you are a physician near the end of your career, and you crave flexibility but don’t mind the inconsistent income, locums are perfect for you. You have already “been there, done that” and you have nothing to prove to anyone. Building your career is not your goal, but the goal is to not retire and die, instead to combine interesting work-filled life with a life of travel or time with your family.
- Are you a physician in the middle of a life transition? Do Locums. Taking care of children, but don’t want to give up your career completely? Do locums. Getting a divorce, and need some time to regroup? Do locums. Recovering from an illness and want to reenter the workforce slowly? Do locums. Just know when to stop, and have a reasonable story to explain that “locums time” in your life.
- Locums are a great supplement to a full-time job to earn extra income.
The bottom line: Locums is a great career option, but be careful. If your locum's work history is most of your work history for too long you are a locums physician, and the day you grow weary of travel is also the day you may discover your locum's label prevents you from doing the thing you start to crave… which is to stop depending on the next out-of-town gig to pop up and pay the bills.