What is locum tenens?

March 31, 2011


What is locum tenens?

The phrase locum tenens derived from Latin, in general terms refers to a doctor who works temporarily in the place of the regular doctor. In conversation, commonly used variants of locum tenens include locum and locums and as the full phrase to describe doctors, physicians, jobs or companies.

CompHealth first pioneered the concept of temporary physician staffing in 1979. Back then it characterized a way to practice medicine that was off the beaten career path, with most opportunities in remote locations and small "town doctor" practices. Today, locum tenens is a highly respected practice alternative that offers physicians a full spectrum of professional opportunities, in every type of practice across the U.S. Locum tenens in today's healthcare industry is not just a great career option for providers but in hiring locum physicians, facilities have found a strategic cost-saving and performance enhancing option. More healthcare facilities are seeking out locum tenens physicians to build or augment their departments across various specialties.

Benefits of locum tenens for physicians and employers

Locum tenens offers unique benefits to both providers and employers. Physicians who choose to work locums have freedom and flexibility to pick their practice location. They get the satisfaction of helping people in areas with short supply of physicians. Locum work gives providers the ability to travel anywhere in the world and choose a schedule that fits their lifestyle. Employers who hire locums see obvious benefits as well. They have the ability to scale-up their services or fill in the gaps in short notice by using qualified providers willing to work on locum assignments. For providers, working locum tenens allows them to experience how physicians in different geographic regions and diverse practice settings deliver patient care. A temporary physician can also earn a competitive income while traveling to other places and experiencing various cultures.

By hiring a locum tenens doctor, hospitals get a clear insight into the working style and professional standards of the locum physician on assignment. It can be a great "working-interview" that assists the hospital recruiters to pick physicians for long-term or even permanent assignments when the need arises. Traveling and exploring different locations and facilities as a locum tenens provider will act as a good "test-drive" before they decide to settle down for something more permanent.

Experienced physicians may find locum tenens assignments a convenient way to travel and work at the same time. Some of them even accept work depending on the season they prefer.

Sometimes doctors choose the freedom offered by locum tenens staffing firms to get away from the stress of running their own practice and the burden of high malpractice fees. Locums physicians work as independent contractors without overheads or payroll, and with many organizations such as CompHealth, their malpractice insurance will be covered. Physicians looking to try different fields of medicine can take up locum tenens assignments and safely experiment and explore alternative areas without fear of repercussions. They can return to their core area of practice after their locums contract ends. Hiring experienced locums physicians can be extremely beneficial for facilities looking to increase the knowledge base and mentoring of young staff physicians.

Both new graduates and experienced physicians are finding locum tenens to be a useful moneymaking tool. A couple of years of locums work after graduating can augment a new physician's earning and help him/her pay off the hefty student loans. It's also common for retired physicians to boost their retirement accounts by accepting locum tenens assignments. The extra income earned through locums work has also helped many doctors raise money for their own practice in a short time.

Locum Tenens offers freedom, flexibility and value in many ways

In summary, locum tenens offers many benefits to both physicians and employers. Many advantages of locums are immediately obvious while many others positively impact the long term. Physicians seeking these assignments enjoy a flexible lifestyle and enjoy different locations in diverse practice settings. They earn money while gaining invaluable experience as locums doctors. It's a great way for physicians to escape a time-consuming practice and be able to indulge in their passions for travel, photography, outdoor adventures and many others. In addition to the freedom and flexibility, locum tenens work is a great CV builder that exposes the provider to diverse experiences and knowledge in a short time. Working locums is a great way for experienced and retired physicians to visit exotic places and at the same time make money. The arrangement helps locum physicians looking for something more permanent get a good idea of what they can expect and hospitals looking to fill a permanent position can get a great preview of potential candidates. A locum tenens assignment offers a working interview for both employers and providers to understand and evaluate each other for a possible match.

[This article was solicited from Comp Health by Barbara Swartz, MD, PhD. There are numerous locum tenens jobs listed on the internet. Comp Health is one of the largest health care staffing organizations and will work with you to find a good match. If you are a physician seeking more information about how locum tenens can benefit your career or are looking for your next locum assignment, you can connect with an expert CompHealth locum tenens consultant today by calling 800.453.3030 or visiting www.comphealth.com]