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Things You Should Know About The History of Locum Tenens Positions

By January 3, 2018 No Comments

We all know locum tenens are a significant part of the medical industry today. But how did that happen? The idea of a physician moving around and working temporary jobs hasn’t always been such a visible a part of American medicine. However, the roots of locums work go back farther than you might think.

Even though the number of locums is growing, you’ll still encounter some people who are resistant to the idea that temp physicians can be just as good as those holding permanent placements. Knowing the history of locum tenens and what locums work is like today can help displace that myth and firmly establish locums as a respected part of the medical community.

Frontier Physicians

Some historians trace the history of locum tenens to traveling physicians of the 19th century. We have records as early as 1850 of physicians traveling through frontier settlements to provide care. The practice of assigning healthcare workers to temporary jobs really started taking off in the United States in 1911 when the U.S. Government started funding doctors to travel to American Indian tribes.

Origin Of The Phrase

The term locum tenens originated in Medieval Latin. It means “to hold the place of” or “to substitute for”. While the phrase has a long history, we didn’t really use it in the healthcare industry until the 1970s.

The First Locums

What we now think of as a locum tenans position emerged in 1970. That’s when the University of Utah received a grant to fund temporary medical placements. The goal was to relieve full-time doctors working in the rural U.S. and provide medical care in under-served areas. By 1979, the first locums staffing agency formed.

Modern Locums

As the number of locum tenens grew, those positions became recognized as an essential part of the modern medical industry. In 2001, the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO) was formed. This organization standardized and enforced strong industry standards and guidelines. Today, thousands of physicians work locums jobs and NALTO estimates that 75 percent of all hospitals supplement their permanent staff with locum tenens.

More Reasons For Locums

The locum tenens position is still used for its original purpose of providing care to rural areas and filling-in for regular physicians. But it also grew beyond that. Hospitals and private practices in urban as well as rural can use locums whenever they need extra staff. Physicians who work locums jobs find that they offer the opportunity to travel, explore different types of medical positions, and manage their schedules more directly. And whether you’re looking to hire locums or you’re working for work as a locum, RadCoverage can help you find the perfect fit. Contact us today for more information.