Working temporary medical jobs, known as locum tenens positions, is becoming increasingly popular. And no wonder. Locums positions offer flexible hours, freedom to travel, an escape from bureaucracy, and in some cases higher pay. It’s a little different than working a permanent medical job, though, so here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re ready to start taking locums work.
Know What You Want Out Of Locums Work
Different people take locums work for different reasons. Once you’ve decided if working as a locum is right for you, take some time to figure out what you want out of your temp assignments. Maybe you’re willing to travel and are looking for the highest paychecks. Or perhaps you’re retired and you want to keep working a little on the side. Whatever your situation, let the recruiter or consultant you work with know what sort of locums jobs you’re looking for. Then they’ll be able to match you with positions that work for you.
Look Closely At Offered Positions
You don’t have to take every job you’re offered. You might turn some down because they’re geographically inconvenient or the pay isn’t good enough. But location and salary aren’t the only factors to consider. You’ll also want to look at why the hospital is hiring locums. If it’s because you’re filling in for someone’s vacation, or they need more staff during a growth phase, or it’s in a rural area where it’s hard to find physicians those are good signs. But if they’re hesitant to talk with you about the assignment or they’re short-staffed because the culture is so bad no one wants to stay there, those are big red flags.
Remember All The Legal Stuff
You’ll have to get a state license and hospital credentialing for each locums position you accept. Working with a locums agency makes this easy since it’s their job to complete the paperwork for you. But that doesn’t mean you completely get out of paperwork. Working as a locum makes you an independent contractor, which means you’re responsible for your own taxes. You’ll have to pay estimated taxes quarterly, track your expenses, and make sure you pay in accordance with the law for each state you work and live in. This can all get pretty complicated, so you might want to hire an accountant.
Focus On Working With The Permanent Team
By the very nature of locums work, you’re only filling a position temporarily. A big part of your goal should be fitting in and supporting the relationship patients have with the permanent team. Take the time to familiarize yourself with how things are done in this new practice and ask questions as needed. Though you should feel free to actively contribute your expertise and experience, be sensitive to the office culture. Your time as a locum will go much more smoothly if you can integrate into the team well.
Develop A Relationship With Your Recruiter
It’s very important that you find a recruiter or consultant that you’re comfortable working with. You want a locums agency that will be there for you and that you can trust. Pick an agency that’s too large and you can get lost in the shuffle or lose money to their high fees. But pick one that’s too small and their skeleton staff may have trouble responding to your needs. Try to find an agency that neither too big nor too small and where you can build a relationship with your recruiter. Ideally, they’ll also be specialized in your field like RadCoverage specializes in working with radiation oncology professionals.