You can find plenty of articles discussing the benefits of locum tenens medicine from the clinician’s perspective. The vast majority of them talk about things like being your own boss, having the freedom to travel, and getting out of the rat race. All are valid, yet none even scratch the surface.
Every locum sees what he or she does through a different lens. As such, there are as many benefits to locum tenens work as there are people who love it. The key for any doctor thinking of becoming a full-time locum is to find out what is most appealing about it. If said benefits are enough to push the doctor over the edge, he or she is opening the door to an entirely new way of practicing medicine.
Here are four more things to love about locum tenens, above and beyond the standards you read in most posts:
1. An End to Schedule Flipping
Certain kinds of specialties, like emergency medicine for example, are open to regular schedule flipping. You work a full week on the night shift only to immediately switch to the A shift the following week. The harshness of schedule flipping can make it impossible to establish a good sleep pattern. It can interfere terribly with family life, outside interests, and so forth.
Locum clinicians do not have to settle for schedule flipping. In fact, very few do. What is the point of working as a locum if you are doing things the same way you would as a permanent employee? No, schedule flipping is almost always off the locum’s table.
2. Getting Paid for Every Hour
The doctors who work on the Relative Value Units (RVU) model are not necessarily sure how much money they will make in any given week. It is not surprising that these problems with the RVU model leave some feeling as though they aren’t getting paid for all of their time.
Locum tenens physicians work by the hour. There is no RVU to worry about. A doctor who works 50 hours gets paid for 50 hours. One who decides to work for 35 will get paid for 35. Straight hourly pay makes managing your expenses a lot easier and doesn’t leave you feeling as though you’re giving away free time.
3. Pursuing Your Passions
When you run your own practice or work as a hospitalist, your daily routine is limited by your surroundings. This may prevent you from truly pursuing your passions. Maybe you have always had a strong desire to practice border medicine. Maybe you want to get involved in rural medicine. Whatever the case might be, locum tenens affords those opportunities.
4. Practicing Mercenary Medicine
More than one full-time locum has reveled in the fact that he or she isn’t constrained by arbitrary things like satisfaction scores and business metrics. Locums are not held to those sorts of things because they are only temporary placeholders. Thus, they are free to practice what they consider high-quality medicine irrespective of most administrative concerns.
This sort of medicine has been dubbed ‘mercenary medicine’ by some locums. A mercenary is able to go in, give his or her best effort, and then exit at contract’s end. There are no office politics to worry about. There are no business decisions to get in the way of quality care. It’s just medicine.
Are you looking for a new way to practice; a new way that frees you from the constraints of the traditional model? If so, consider locum tenens as a full-time career. It works for a lot of clinicians who wouldn’t practice any other way.