What is locum tenens?

Locum tenens, which is Latin for “one holding a place,” refers to a healthcare provider who is working temporarily in the place of another provider when he or she is absent, or when a hospital or practice is short staffed.

In the midst of physician shortages across the country and with reports of provider burnout on the rise, many doctors and physician extenders are turning to locum tenens work for rewarding careers. We are seeing more hospitals, clinics and independent practices recruiting for these temporary positions to fill the healthcare gap.

TinkBird Healthcare Staffing works directly with physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to place them in locum tenens positions for hospitals, health systems, private practices and other healthcare facilities. Our skilled clinicians are available for short-term and long-term placement to cover for maternity leaves, vacations, peak sickness seasons, high patient volume, medical leave, or while searching for a permanent provider.

Reasons to work locum tenens

Healthcare providers work in locum tenens positions for a variety of reasons. Here are some experiences physicians, PAs and nurse practitioners shared after being placed in temporary roles through TinkBird Healthcare Staffing.

Freedom and flexibility

“There is something incredibly freeing about getting to choose when and where you want to work. And actually getting paid for your time when you work through your lunch or stay late,” says Brittany, a locum tenens physician assistant.

Indeed, working as a locum tenens provider allows you to create your own work schedule and gives you more time for family and to pursue other passions.

Variety of experiences

“My favorite thing about working locum tenens is the flexibility it affords and the varied experiences, people and communities you encounter,” said locum tenens PA Deena.

Locum work, by its very nature, will expose you to a wide variety of work environments, patient cases and co-workers. Beyond the workplace, providers have the ability to travel with intention and experience new places. This ability to “mix it up” is an aspect of locum work that many medical professionals find appealing and an effective way to avoid burnout that comes with dealing with the same issues day in and day out.

Knowledge and growth

“I had the pleasure of working in a rural health clinic with a primarily Hispanic immigrant population. It was fun and challenging to learn the language and culture. The patients were extremely grateful for the care,” said Ann, a locum tenens primary care physician.

New challenges bring new insights. Locum tenens placements provide a stimulating work setting in which medical providers can thrive and grow. The experience of working in different facilities can be immensely rewarding, whether you are new to the medical field and soaking up knowledge or a seasoned provider with vast expertise to share with others. Being exposed to different doctors, patient populations and hospital systems will not only provide experience but make you better at what you do. With this nature of work, you may discover your purpose and grow personally and professionally. You will not only face new medical cases but new cultures and backgrounds wherever you go.

No bureaucracy

Kathleen, a locum tenens physician, speaks from experience, giving this advice to locum tenens providers: “Take it easy on yourself. You are only there to work. You don’t have to worry about the office politics. Enjoy the time.”

Internal “politics,” or lack thereof, is another reason many providers choose the locum tenens lifestyle. As a temporary provider, you can focus solely on excellent patient care, leaving the administrative responsibilities, billing issues, staff management and office politics to the permanent employees.

Relief from burnout

“I would encourage anyone who feels stuck in a rut and who wants to stretch their skills and experience to consider locums work,” advises Deena, a locum physician assistant. “Pick up some weekend shifts to see how you like it if you’re not quite ready to jump in full time.”

Physician burnout is an issue that has become a significant concern for the healthcare industry in the U.S. Locum tenens work might just be the change you need if you are experiencing burnout. It allows for time between assignments to recover and recharge.

Career advancements

Temporary work at multiple medical facilities can often open the door to permanent placement for physicians and PAs. Not every physician is ready to take a permanent position straight out of residency. Locum work gives you the opportunity to test drive a job before you make a decision. Young medical professionals can also benefit from networking with a wide variety of people in the healthcare industry. Through locum tenens work you may encounter a job opportunity that you may have never known about otherwise.

Is locum tenens work right for you?

For providers who are just entering the medical profession or for those seeking a change, locum tenens may be a fit. With the wide variety of experiences a locum career provides, it is certainly worth checking out. Contact a healthcare recruiter at TinkBird to get started or browse our current locum tenens opportunities.

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