Locum tenens is a Latin term meaning "to hold a place." As a medical professional, a locum tenens Physician or Advanced Practitioner will fill in for medical professionals, almost like independent contractors. Often, the resident professional is on leave or absent for other reasons. Still, at other times the hospital or healthcare facility will staff locum tenens or temporary healthcare providers full-time. This helps them plan for fluctuations in patient demand, among other benefits.
Due to the rising demand for locum tenens professionals, largely because of the nationwide Physician shortage, locum tenens salary rates are climbing every year. Now is the best time to explore career opportunities as a locum tenens or temporary provider. It is becoming more and more common to earn more than a regular full-time doctor or advanced practitioner. Locum tenens careers offer a variety of perks. These include travel opportunities, schedule flexibility, and extra income.
If you desire, working as a locum tenens provider often allows you to work full-time. Alternatively, locum tenens Physicians can combine temporary work with a permanent healthcare provider job as supplemental income.
Depending on job factors, locum tenens Physicians can earn over $2,000 per day. In fact, Primary Care Physicians can generate over $150,000 a year as locum tenens Providers.
Studies have found that the average locum tenens pay for full-time physicians is $32.45 per hour more than Physicians that receive a salary and have a permanent job. Often, a locum tenens Physician can earn more by simply working weekends as opposed to working all year. Average locum tenens pay rates will vary across all medical specialties, but certain specialties offer higher locum tenens salaries due to immediate need, scarcity, or patient demand.
For example, in March and April of 2020, we saw a huge surge in the need for critical care and Pulmonology Physicians to account for an increase in COVID-19 patients. Below are locum tenens compensation rates based on Physician specialties.
Various factors can influence locum tenens compensation:
Rural areas and smaller cities have access to fewer medical professionals. Typically, the smaller the location, the higher a relative locum tenens salary. This is done to attract physicians and advanced practitioners. Extra shifts and on-call options are more abundant as a temporary physician or advanced practitioner, too. States such as Indiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, and Wisconsin are known to pay the highest rates for locum tenens positions.
Supply and demand significantly affect locum tenens salary rates. The higher the need for a specialty, the more salary a hospital will be willing to pay for a qualified provider. Specialized skills like Neurosurgery and Cardiology typically earn a higher salary compared to a more common specialty like family or emergency medicine. Always remember that a Physician's salary may be negotiated if you are willing to work longer hours, nights, or weekends when needed.
The locum tenens salary offered by a modern university medical center or private hospital differs from a salary at a small-town clinic. That is because larger facilities have bigger budgets to accommodate higher salary packages. However, big institutions are typically well-staffed. If the hospital already has multiple staff members that practice your specialty, it can make them less flexible in paying your desired salary.
Typically, the more experienced you are, the higher the locum tenens salary you can negotiate. If your expertise surpasses that of the physicians already on staff, it's possible to negotiate a better salary. Rural community facilities struggling to attract highly experienced specialists are generally open to a higher salary for top candidates.
Working weekends, holidays, or calls may pay better, depending on the facility and your specialty. Again, this all comes down to supply and demand. Assignments with a more appealing shift schedule or slower pace may pay lower locum tenens rates when compared to an assignment with required call or a high patient load.
A hospitalist is typically a board-certified internal medicine physician who has chosen to practice medicine in a hospital. We have also seen hospitalists with a background in family or emergency medicine. Locum tenens Hospitalist salary rates are often comparable, if not higher than permanent hospitalist positions. This is often due to the high demand for hospitalists and the inevitable need for them around the clock and on holidays.
Hospitalist pay rates vary based on locality, how quickly they are needed to fill the position, special skills, board certifications, call requirements, and other factors. On average, locum tenens Hospitalist rates are usually between $100-$200/hour.
Working as a locum tenens offers unique benefits unavailable to permanent hospital staff. Because locum tenens assignments are available all over the US, many medical practitioners use locum tenens jobs as an opportunity to take "working vacations."
For example, we staffed a well-paying Monday through Friday Physician job that was a 3-month assignment in the Caribbean island of Curacao. Many healthcare providers jumped at the opportunity to spend three months living and working on a beautiful island! Having job options all over the country allows you to travel and explore professional development opportunities without compromising your salary.
Locum tenens Physicians and Advanced Practitioners also have more flexibility regarding their working hours. Physicians can work full-time, part-time, on-call, or any other preferred arrangement.
Another attractive benefit of working as a locum tenens Physician or Advanced Practitioner is the pay. By partnering with the right locums staffing agency, you can find work that matches your discipline and salary requirements. A locum tenens provider can often find the work they prefer while also enjoying more financial freedom than a full-time Physician.
Locum tenens medical practitioners receive their paychecks from their staffing agency. The staffing agency does not deduct things like the physician's Medicare, income taxes, or Social Security payments from the check. Instead, a locum physician must provide their own medical insurance, benefits, and retirement savings. Locum tenens physicians can buy medical insurance via a health exchange or use their spouse's plan. A locum provider basically operates as an independent contractor. As a result, a physician may claim more work-related expenses. These typically include travel, housing, equipment, and more expenses on your taxes.
The best locum tenens agencies will take the time to understand your specialty, preferences, and skills. Doing so enables the agency to provide you with locum opportunities that make sense for you. These opportunities should match your short and long-term career goals. In addition, staffing agencies also offer the following benefits:
Hospitals and healthcare facilities contact locum tenens staffing agencies for assistance with finding temporary coverage. Locum tenens staffing agencies use their vast network of healthcare professionals to find the best match. The staffing agency pays the Physician or Advanced Practitioner, and in turn, the hospital or healthcare facility pays the staffing agency for finding the Physician or Advanced Practitioner. They also pay for taking care of things like licensing, credentialing, privileging, housing and travel arrangements.
The best staffing agencies are able to get to know their healthcare professionals. They understand a professional's needs, and match them with opportunities that fit them. On the healthcare facility's side, they are also paying for this service; they expect each provider we send their way to be precisely what they are looking for.
Working with an established staffing company like Caliber ensures competitive locum tenens salary rates and prompt payment. We listen to our providers' needs and ensure they have the freedom to practice medicine on their terms.
Our proprietary matching engine will connect you with medical facilities that want your exact skills while still considering all your personal preferences. Hiring facilities recommended by our matching system will be high-quality and fit your specifications. A Physician's preferred rate or salary, locality, working hours, and more are included in our matching system. Perhaps you want to travel more or spend more time with your family.
Finding the right company for locum tenens work is difficult. Caliber can make it happen, regardless of your medical specialty or experience. Sign up today to start your profile and discover the best locum tenens opportunities for you.