Providers choose locum work over permanent positions for many reasons, and they are as varied as the jobs themselves. Locum work isn’t for the faint of heart—there are plenty of challenges navigating new charting systems, getting to know unfamiliar medical staff, and proving yourself as a worthy and respected member of the medical community, but take heart—traveling has plenty of strong points. Here are a few of the key reasons providers choose locum work over permanent positions:
Less administrative tasks: As a locum provider, you won’t be able to get away from paperwork or charting completely, but you will face less than if you were operating your own practice. Gone are some of the days of haggling with insurance companies, tracking down patients for payment and handling many of the new administrative hoops that have come about recently—like Meaningful Use compliance or Affordable Care Act changes.
Schedule flexibility: For providers interested in working fewer days (like those entering retirement) or setting a schedule that meets personal needs, locums work may remove the 9-5 and offer a variety of shifts not available in a permanent position. Maybe you only want to work a weekend a month, avoid call time, or see patients a day or two a month. Because work is available everywhere from large hospitals to small community clinics, it’s easy to find a spot that’s right for you and your professional goals.
Extra income: There’s no guarantee that working as a locum provider will make you any wealthier than holding a permanent job. It really depends on how badly the hiring company needs to fill the spot and how much they are willing to pay. If there is a chance to work extra shifts or extend a contract the provider might make more than permanent, but most doctors are surprised to find out that locums pay doesn’t differ all that much.
Travel and testing the waters: Most doctors say they choose locum work for the chance to see new places and meet new people. Traveling offers opportunities to work in some of the best medical centers in the country and build relationships with colleagues from many different specialties—a benefit that can last years after a travel assignment is over. Some providers enjoy testing the waters in a hospital or clinic before accepting a full time position. Traveling can be a good way to evaluate a community and its resources before making a permanent move.
Bridging new career paths: Choosing locum work can serve as a mid-career bridge for providers as they reexamine their long-term goals. They can continue to care for patients, gain clinical experience, and make money while they try out different areas and consider what’s next in their medical career.
By Rachel Ballard RNC, BSN
Rachel Ballard is a certified registered nurse and owner of the medical writing company iHealth Communications. iHealth teams with healthcare leaders to create written content that boosts revenue and builds relationships. Learn more about Rachel on Google+