Brief Guide on Locum Tenens

Whether you’re a doctor fresh out of residency or a seasoned physician planning to save up for retirement, there aren’t many things as exciting as becoming a locum tenens practitioner. Translated from Latin directly as “to hold in place,” it’s about temporarily filling in or taking up a role and refers primarily to medical professionals like physicians. Click here to find out more about how you can avail of the services of a physician recruitment firm and the benefits you can derive.

Locum tenens — how does it work?

Unlike traditional careers in medicine, locum providers don’t have permanent positions. Instead, they take assignments provided to them by their respective recruitment firms. Depending on the staffing needs of the healthcare facility, these posts can last from weeks to months. In other words, the locum tenens lifestyle involves a lot of traveling and opportunities to work in different settings.

What are the perks of locum tenens?


Most healthcare practitioners usually switch to working in locums to have more flexible working schedules and higher-paying jobs. But its beauty lies in the fact that it enables medical specialists to decide how best to reach their goals. With that said, it still comes with its fair share of definite benefits. Here are a few reasons why more and more physicians are choosing locum tenens over full-time work.

  • Better income. One of the reasons why many find the prospect of working as a locum tenens physician so appealing is the money. Unlike working as a full-time doctor, you have the option of doing more hours to increase your income. Moreover, many locums providers have higher hourly rates than those who opt for a traditional healthcare career path.
  • Schedule flexibility. Beyond the money, working as a locum tenens physician gives more flexibility in working schedules. With this approach, you can create a more convenient and comfortable schedule without making concessions that could compromise your earnings. As a result, you can balance your professional and personal lives much easier than you otherwise would as a doctor working in a permanent role.
  • Opportunities to travel. There’s no denying that time is a rare and valuable commodity in the healthcare sector. Doctors rarely have enough time to take a few days off, much less travel and experience different locations. However, as a locum tenens practitioner, you’ll have more opportunities to travel since assignments can take place in different places.
  • More time for patients. Ask any doctor, and they’ll tell you that the worst part of being a healthcare provider is likely to be the administrative duties. These tasks aren’t just tedious and cause physician burnout — they also take away valuable time that medical professionals can spend on their patients. Thankfully, you won’t get bogged down by the admin responsibilities full-time doctors have to shoulder when working in locum.

General questions on locum tenens


The locum tenens career path might sound conceptually simple, but it can be complicated. In this section, we’ll cover some of the most frequently asked questions that many have when it comes to working in locums.

  1. Does it work for every physician’s specialty? The locum tenens career is usually available to all major physician specialties. However, it will ultimately depend on the recruitment firm you choose to partner with, so make sure that you do due diligence beforehand.
  2. How long do assignments take? The duration of every assignment depends on the present needs of the healthcare institution. They could last for no more than a week to months on end. Moreover, they can take place anywhere in the country so you’ll have to be willing to travel.
  3. Is it right for you? No one can deny the advantages of being a locum tenens doctor. However, the lifestyle is certainly not for everyone. But if you’re open to the prospect of traveling and experiencing new locations, it could be something that works for you.
  4. Can you work in locums if you aren’t board-certified? It’s usually possible to work in locums even without being board-certified. However, you must at least be considered as “board eligible.”

How to find the right staffing agency


Becoming a locum tenens provider offers many different advantages, as mentioned above. However, reaping these benefits will depend on your staffing firm. If you want to make the most out of it, you’ll need to find an agency that will best meet your needs. To that end, here are a few tips to help you out.

  • Bigger doesn’t always mean better. There are quite a few agencies that advertise and promote themselves a lot. From sending emails to having so many advertisements online, bigger companies usually have considerable overhead costs to shoulder. And these expenses could lower hourly rates. Conversely, smaller firms might not be as efficient, but some may offer you better rates so long as they’re aware of your expectations.
  • Be clear with the terms. Doctors aren’t always business savvy. Keep in mind that recruitment firms exist primarily because of staffing shortages. It may sound like they’re doing you a favor, but the reality is that it’s a two-way street and you mustn’t be hesitant to state your terms. For example, if you’re looking to work fewer hours, set a cap on patients you’re willing to consult with every day.
  • Read the reviews. To attract prospects, many staffing firms will make promises and claims that they might not necessarily fulfill. For this reason, it’s vital that you don’t take their word alone but rather look into what their past and existing clients have to say. By reading some online reviews, you’ll gain valuable and objective insight that will help you figure out whether or not you should work with a specific staffing firm. While it may sound like extra work you’d rather be without, it could save you a lot of trouble down the line.


It comes as no surprise that there’s been an increasing number of healthcare providers who have been taking the path of locum tenens. After all, the lifestyle does have very enticing advantages. Regardless of whether you’re fresh out of residency or are a seasoned physician, working as a locum practitioner can be beneficial and should be considered carefully.