Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that simply means “temporary work.” However, there is nothing simple about the benefits offered by locum tenens. More and more physicians choose work as locum tenens medical providers for different reasons and situations. Choose long- or short-term assignments based on specialty, needs, and preferences, and enjoy traveling as well.
Recent studies found that almost 95 percent of healthcare facilities surveyed staffed locum tenens physicians in 2016 alone. This is up from 91 percent in 2014 and just 74 percent in 2012, meaning medical practices throughout the U.S. are turning toward locum tenens providers more and more often. These medical professionals are emerging to be a key part of the healthcare workforce, which is crucial during these times of physician shortages and limitations in providing care for patients.
Physicians Talk About Their Locum Tenens Experiences
Janice Boughton, M.D., is one of the physicians who chose to work with locum tenens in an effort to update her skills and knowledge while reevaluating her career path. Within just one year of working with locum tenens, Boughton traveled to California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska to provide care, learn more about her field, and have adventures with new friends she met along the way.
On the Physician on Fire blog, another locum tenens provider also talked about their experience in temp work in the healthcare industry. They felt one of the best things about it is having some freedom in just about every aspect of the work – from the schedules to the tasks to the places. Locum tenens allows doctors to work as much or as little as they want. Therefore, it gives them time for themselves, whether they use it to spend with their family, discover a new hobby, or have a bit of down time.
This doctor expressed that “locum tenens positions pay well from day one.” Typically, the recruiter will pay the physician depending on his or her qualifications. For instance, a recent graduate will be paid differently than those who have been working for at least five years in the medical field. Several agencies exist that search for locum tenens providers. Often, physicians are offered attractive payment packages that may even include additional pay when working beyond eight hours daily. Therefore, locum tenens is an excellent option for those looking to generate extra income.
However, it is not just about money. Aside from the compensation plans and the flexible schedule, locum tenens also gives physicians the opportunity to interact with patients, particularly those in rural areas.
Avishai Meyer, M.D., a general surgeon, shared that locum tenens gives their providers “a lot of opportunities to travel to places you would not normally go.” Locum tenens physicians are constantly being introduced to new patients, new medical staffs, new systems, and new methods in every different location, providing constant room for growth and learning opportunities.
Working as a locum tenens provider, indeed, has several advantages over traditional healthcare work.
Why Consider a Locum Tenens Job With IHS?
Locum tenens in healthcare has existed for decades. In the not too distant past, physicians who elected to be a locum tenens provider used to be made of two groups: those who were nearing the end of their career and were approaching retirement, and doctors who had just finished training.
These two groups of medical professionals still account for 60% of those who accept locum tenens or temporary assignments. However, there have been some changes, including the addition of people who want to practice out of their regular settings and practitioners who want to explore other locations. Some also want to serve patients, particularly those in areas where medical service is rare.
Working With the IHS
The Indian Health Service, or IHS, is among the organizations that look for physicians willing to work as locum tenens. IHS serves almost 600 Alaska Natives and American Indians. IHS is a recruiter of healthcare professionals, especially those in the middle of their career searching for a potential career change.
Working to provide Indian service has many benefits, including providing care to members of tribes. This group is underserved when it comes to medical attention. In fact, deaths caused by diabetes and cirrhosis outnumber other ethnic groups. One of the reasons for the high death rate is lack of access to healthcare.
During the time a physician looks after the patients, the experience in working with IHS allows physicians to interact with different cultures. There are chances of witnessing celebrations, such as the Independence Day Pow Wow where there are tribal dance contests and rodeos. What’s more, IHS has facilities that are located in different parts of the country, including Idaho, Nevada, South Dakota, Alaska, and Arizona.
Since people work to receive compensation, accepting locum tenens assignments for Indian service can give competitive compensation packages, including lodging, salary, and travel. At the same time, physicians get more personal time to explore a favorite hobby or interest.
The schedule is more flexible because medical providers can work when they want. If they need to take time off, they do not have to accept any locums task. Such a benefit is not always possible with a full-time job in the healthcare industry.
The holidays can seriously affect people who experience medical emergencies. That’s because they frequently lead to emergency room wait times that are markedly lengthier than normal. Patients who head to the emergency room during the holiday season often have to compete with many others who are in the middle of similar situations.
The Holiday Season Is Busy Season
Urgent medical issues tend to be significantly more common during the holiday season. That’s one of the reasons why emergency rooms are so jam-packed at that time. There are quite a few factors that may contribute to the increase in pressing medical concerns. People tend to eat a lot more during the holidays. Parties and gatherings often present people with seemingly irresistible and often unhealthy choices in holiday treats.
There are a couple of other major components that are associated with increases in medical emergencies during the holidays as well. Frequent partying can bring on burnout and exhaustion. Stress, in general, can make people much more susceptible to medical woes. It can be tough to cope with the frustrations of jam-packed schedules, nonstop travel, gift selection and more. Physicians will see patients with all kinds of medical concerns during the holidays, including those dealing with alcohol intoxication, food poisoning and other issues.
On top of the rise in the number of patients they have to see, healthcare professionals also have to deal with increased workloads. This is particularly true for those who work in emergency rooms. It can be especially difficult to deal with increases in emergencies when other people are away. It also isn’t uncommon for people to take time off during the holiday season. Doctors, nurses and administrative assistants may go on vacation, adding to the workload.
Appointment Changes Affect Schedules
Appointment changes are common during the holidays as patients have to deal with healthcare clinics’ minimal holiday hours. Patients may cancel or skip their appointments without notice altogether, and physicians may find themselves with more walk-ins due to emergency cases. This can affect healthcare provider schedules in big ways as they’re forced to fit in unexpected patients.
Medical care isn’t a hobby for our full-service recruitment firm. It’s a way of life. Reach out to Locum Tenens as soon as possible for more information about holiday health matters, Indian service, benefits and more. We’re a recruiter company that genuinely cares.
When you need to fill healthcare positions, you can get the job done on your own, or you can call upon the services of a professional recruiter. There are pros and cons to each approach, but in general, using a recruiter is the more beneficial way to go. Consider just a few of the key benefits.
It Saves Time
Recruiting on your own is a serious time investment. One or more of your managers will have to take the time to write out a job description, broadly distribute it, reach out to candidates and potential candidates, properly vet all candidates and schedule people for interviews. Someone in your organization might have the time and skill for this, but often, that is not the case. A professional, independent recruiter can take care of the recruitment process while your staff focuses on their own work.
It Saves Costs
Going through an outside recruiter is often less expensive than having your team do recruiting in-house. The costs of having your own managers recruit candidates balloons quickly. Between overhead costs, benefits, their cost per hour and the lost progress they could be making in other revenue-generating areas, hiring an independent recruiter starts to look like a bargain. You will also get more experienced help and value for your money.
You Get Clearly Defined Job Descriptions
One major advantage of using a recruiter versus doing it alone is that it forces you to pinpoint exactly what you are looking for. A good job description is key to attracting quality people who will meet the needs of your organization to the role. A recruiter can ask the right questions and come up with a solid job description that will be targeted to the healthcare providers you need. For example, you might not know that someone with an Indian Service background would be a preferred candidate, and a recruiter can make that connection for you.
You Can Attract (and Keep) the Best Candidates
Accomplishing these two things is generally much more challenging than healthcare organizations think it will be. This is particularly true for locum tenens providers because you want the best, most qualified physicians to fill in and service your patients. You will also need to find them quickly and frequently. Recruiters know the right places to look for candidates and what motivates candidates to want to apply for a job. During calls, they know where to steer the conversation in order to get the most relevant information, such as a related hobby, out of each potential candidate. They are also going to know how to treat candidates so that the best talent doesn’t lose interest in the position.
More and more physicians, especially seasoned ones, are turning to locum tenens because it provides them more benefits, including more revenue and freedom.
The Benefits of Locum Tenens for Older Physicians
In the U.S., mandatory retirement where professionals are compelled to stop working is illegal when they reach a certain age. However, there are exceptions, such as pilots who should retire at 65. As for physicians, there is no law mandating when they should retire.
However, those involved in the medical field do not have to choose when they should retire or whether they will work full time or not. There is an option that is a worthwhile compromise: locum tenens. In English, this Latin phrase means “placeholder.”
Mandatory Retirement Among Physicians
An online poll showed that 73% of the respondents were against the so-called forced retirement for aging physicians. And 77% of them did say there should be assessment programs to test if the physicians were still capable of handling their patients and their various conditions.
Working in healthcare usually means a person should have excellent health. It is a demanding industry with many important duties. Furthermore, no recruiter would be willing to hire someone who lacks fine motor skills as well as perfect hand-eye coordination. These issues are sometimes present among people who are aging.
Advantages of Locum Tenens
The American Medical Association (AMA) has agreed to create guidelines for assessing physical and mental health. Based on their findings, one out of four doctors in the U.S. is older than 65 years old. In other industries, this particular age may be troublesome, but a medical provider is highly valued for his or her experience.
Those who are not planning to retire just yet but do not want to bury themselves in mountains of medical work will find locum tenens work beneficial. The temporary nature of the assignments offers terrific opportunities for extra income. There is also the benefit of gaining freedom from routines and tedious responsibilities.
Locum tenens gives flexibility in shaping a physician’s schedule. It may even be a great time to start a hobby. Support from locum tasks gives physicians an opportunity to make sure their skills are up to date. Professionals are needed throughout the country and for specialized programs like Indian Services.
Locums is almost like semi-retirement for the older physicians. After 20 or 30 years of looking after patients and a regular work schedule, it can be a breath of fresh air. There is no need to quit the job that a doctor loves as they can still practice what they were trained to do.