Locum Tenens: A Brief Guide

Locum tenens, more commonly referred to as locums, refers to a type of position wherein healthcare providers like physicians work to fill a temporary need that can last from weeks to months. Sometimes, assignments can take years, especially for medical facilities that are short-staffed and in need of specialists to fill in the gaps. For this reason, many locum practitioners are often considered independent contractors rather than full-time employees.

In this guide, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about locum tenens, from the advantages of working with physician recruiters like Masc Medical to a general idea of how it works to some common questions about the lifestyle. If you wish to know more, continue reading.

How does it work?

Practitioners who work in locums differ from doctors in more traditional careers in a number of ways. For starters, locum tenens isn’t a permanent position, as mentioned earlier. This means that their assignments can last until their services are no longer needed. The job can also take place in various locations, be it urban or rural areas. Locum tenens practitioners need to look for new assignments due to the nature of their work, usually through the aid of staffing firms.

Beyond getting to travel to various places, there’s also a credentialing process before the work starts. Sometimes, licensing paperwork is also needed, which is important to keep in mind because some assignments might not be worth the trouble.

Benefits of locum tenens

Working as a locum tenens practitioner is much more accepted today than it ever was in the past due to the many advantages that it offers healthcare professionals. However, if you still have doubts about switching to this more flexible line of work, here are some of the benefits that it provides:

Offers greater earning opportunities. Everyone works to make a living. And what’s great about working in locums is that it provides the opportunity to earn more than you otherwise would have. For example, if you work as a full-time employee for a hospital and need to supplement your income, you can take assignments on your days off. As a result, the extra cash you earn can go to any financial objectives that you might have, be it funding your own practice, paying off any existing school loans or debts, purchasing properties, etc.

Flexibility in scheduling. Many physicians prefer to work as locum tenens practitioners because of the flexibility it offers when it comes to creating a schedule. Unlike a regular position in a hospital, you can choose which assignments to take and for how long. In other words, you could fix up a schedule that’s comfortable for you and prevent burning yourself out without compromising your earnings in the process.

Traveling opportunities. If you’re looking to experience different locations and working environments, then the locum tenens lifestyle is something that will appeal to you. Assignments can come from different places, after all. Because of this, it’s unlikely that you’ll take on a job from the same area more than once.

Minimal administrative work. The worst part of being a healthcare professional is the administrative work. Beyond it being a tedious process, doing paperwork on top of every other responsibility can take precious time that could have been spent handling cases and patient care. But when working in locums, you’ll have minimal admin tasks to fulfill. This, in turn, will save you time and allow you to focus more on the actual practice of medicine instead of billing and other similar tasks.

Tips in selecting the right locum tenens company

If you’re looking for opportunities as a locum tenens physician, you’ve got an abundance of choices to choose from. However, while the multitude of options means that you’ll never run out of choices, it also presents a challenge when selecting the right one for you. So to make things easier, here are some tips to keep in mind when searching for a locum tenens company:

Ensure that the clients pay, not the candidates. The staffing agency is there to aid you in finding locum tenens assignments that best align with your goals. However, this doesn’t mean that you should be the one paying for the services they render. Instead, it should be the parties looking for the advanced practitioner or physician to pay and not the candidates. If the firm makes you pay, you’ll want to walk away and look for another agency.

Remain as discerning as possible. It’s recommended that you remain as discerning as possible when choosing an agency. When talking to the companies, make sure you check their level of experience in the industry. Request for a list of clients they have as well as the benefits and services they offer. More importantly, find out whether or not they cater to your area of expertise. After all, they’ll be getting you assignments, and you don’t want to end up in a position that you’re uncomfortable in.

Align everything with your goals. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of working in locums. But you’ll also want to be realistic with what you’re trying to achieve. For example, you might want to have a part-time position in a healthcare facility with the pay of a full-time employee in Florida. However, your goals might be more aligned with establishing a referral base where there’s minimal competition.

Read reviews. It’s never a good idea to take the word of a business alone, and locum tenens agencies are no exception. Hence, before you commit, make sure that you read some reviews first. The insight offered by other practitioners can help steer you in the right direction.


From its financial rewards to flexible schedules, there are many reasons why more and more doctors are opting for the locum tenens lifestyle. However, it does take a bit of know-how to maximize the experience as a locum practitioner. So make sure that you carefully do your research before you commit to a company. It will go a long way in helping you get the most out of it.