Healthcare workers seeking greater flexibility or higher pay may seek alternative employment arrangements. Per diem and locum tenens positions are popular options outside the traditional full-time schedule found at most medical facilities. Deciding which option is right for you can be challenging, so make sure you understand the pros and cons of each before making a career change.
Locum tenens means "to hold the place of" in Latin. In practical terms, locum tenens providers hold relatively short-term roles often meant as a "placeholder" for permanent employees. When hospital staff has a provider go on maternity leave, locum tenens positions can often be a great way to fill the employment gap until the original employee returns or a new permanent hire is made.
In Latin, per diem means "per day." As the name suggests, it is a very short-term role that can be day-to-day if needed. Instead of a set placement for many weeks or months, per diem work could only be a few shifts.
Locums' work is often preferred by healthcare providers for their higher pay and greater flexibility over traditional roles. These positions allow travel to other parts of the country for work, so providers who enjoy travel are often drawn to these roles. Unlike per diem workers, locum tenens providers have a contract length specifying how long their job will last.
That means you have the stability of knowing where you'll work for weeks or months. It also allows you to develop bonds with coworkers and settle into your new hospital or healthcare center. Locum tenens jobs are usually offered through agencies that provide free housing, benefits, liability insurance, and more built into the job contract. If you're interested in traveling somewhere new and making more money in a stable, set-term role, a locum tenens job could be a perfect choice.
Short-term roles are the defining feature of per diem roles. Like locum tenens, they offer higher pay than traditional roles and can provide travel opportunities. On the other hand, per diem positions are generally set up to offer shifts that can be individually picked up. So if you have a per diem role at a local hospital, you may be offered a double shift on Monday, a night shift on Wednesday, and a few shifts during the weekend to choose from. You only work the shifts you want to work when you want to. The downside is that you have no idea how long this role will last or if you will be offered enough weekly shifts to make the position financially viable. Per diem contracts are typically offered directly by hospitals and do not come with the travel stipend, housing budget, or benefits that an agency offers.
What makes a locum tenens job perfect for one healthcare practitioner can make it a terrible fit for another, so do your research before making the switch.
Increased Pay - Locum tenens positions pay significantly more than traditional full-time roles. Switching to this type of contract can earn you a much higher salary for the same work performed.
Per diem roles have unique benefits and drawbacks to consider before committing to a career change.
Deciding which role is right for you is a personal decision. Per diem and locum tenens positions both carry an impact that will affect each provider differently. Take into consideration your personal career goals and preferences when evaluating these roles.
Whether you're a hospital needing non-permanent employees or a healthcare professional looking for the next career step - Caliber can help. We match dedicated, experienced providers locum tenens with a wide range of hospitals and healthcare systems. Reach out today to learn how we can help meet your needs.
No, PRN positions have the same general structure as a per diem role but are limited to one specific hospital. They are flexible positions that allow employees to pick their shifts.
Locum tenens positions usually have higher pay than regular, long-term roles. Locum tenens providers can make significantly more money if they are willing to travel with a locum tenens company.