Did you know that 94% of medical facilities have employed a locum tenens doctor in the past twelve months? This whopping number reflects the changing healthcare industry and needs of facilities, but also reveals the diverse career choices physicians now have available to them.
Whether you’re starting your career, looking for a mid-career change, or finding a way to reconnect with your love for medicine after retirement, locum tenens could be the answer to your needs. As the general and aging population grows, so does the need for doctors. The U.S. is projected to reach a shortage of 120,000 physicians by 2030, and facilities are increasingly turning to locums to provide for much needed care.
If you’re still considering whether to make the leap, welcome to a growing crowd. 11.5% of doctors reported that they were planning to work locum in 2016 — up from the 9.1% in 2014 — and the parties interested only keeps increasing. Read on to discover why so many doctors are leaning towards freelancing jobs!
1. Set Your Own Schedule
Doing what you want, when you want, and where you want is the biggest draw of being a locum tenens doctor. You have full control over which jobs you want to take and the shifts you would do. How would you like to never be on call coverage again?
Possessing the ability to dictate your schedule gives you the opportunity to spend more time with family, or rediscover a new hobby. You can choose not to work on holidays — or if you’re looking for an excuse to get out of your oversized family’s crazy Thanksgiving party, maybe you need to cover a couple of shifts those days!
2. Boost Your Income
If you have a permanent position, a side gig in locums work is a great way to make a little extra money to supplement your main source of income. With average medical school debt at an all time high of $190,000 in 2016 (with no signs of slowing down), working as a freelance doctor is a great way of make some extra money to help pay off your loans earlier!
And for those who are looking to make locum tenens their main source of income, we’ve got good news for you! On average, locum jobs pay more than salaried doctor jobs, like 30–50% more. This is especially true if you’re taking shifts that pay a premium for weekend or night call shifts. Flexibility without compromising income? Sounds too good to be true, but you better believe it!
3. Travel, Travel, Keep Traveling
The world out there is big and beautiful, and there’s always more to see and do. Working locums gives you the opportunity to travel the country, all while practicing medicine. Are you looking to experience city living in the Big Apple, or go kayaking down the Mississippi? As a freelance doctor, you have your pick of entertainment and experiences. And the best part? How far you want to go, or how close you want to stay, is all up to you.
Traveling doesn’t have to be just for fun either. As a locum tenens, embrace the opportunity to provide care in a rural community, where individuals are in desperate need of more physicians. 20% of Americans live in rural communities, but only 10% of physicians work there. Working locums can give you the chance to travel, see the world, and have a rewarding and fulfilling experience at a job where you’ll be appreciated.
4. Avoid the Political Noise
As the time spent on administrative work increasingly dominates true patient care — a recent study found that only 27% of a physician’s time was spent with patients — locums work offers one of the best ways to re-engage with your patients again. When you’re freelancing at a facility, there’s no need to worry about the business side of medicine, or involve yourself in the never-ending politics and bureaucracy.
Because locum tenens is a temporary assignment, there is less pressure on both the professional and social aspect of work. You can spend less time worrying about quarterly or annual reviews, and focus on your everyday performance to better help your patient. And as a freelancer, you can choose to avoid the workplace drama and gossip to create a much more pleasant working environment.
With all these burdens alleviated, you can finally dedicate your time to your true calling — the practice of medicine!
5. Test Drive Your Options
Freelancing is like a sample kit, where you can try a little bit of everything before you 100% commit to an option. If you’re fresh out of a residency or fellowship, or looking to make a career shift, a locum tenens position could be just what you need before making a critical decision. Locums is a great way to test out a facility or location before committing to a permanent job.
Locums-to-perm is a popular type of locums work that many Nomad doctors take advantage of. This way, you can acclimate to the working environment and get to know all your colleagues before deciding to commit to a permanent position.
With regular locums opportunities, there is even more flexibility as you can try out various kinds of big hospitals, small clinics, private practices, government facilities, and much more. You might realize that a big, metropolitan hospital is not for you and instead find a smaller facility that you love.
6. Take Advantage of Freelancing Tax Benefits
Locum tenens are independent contractors, so instead of filling out an IRS W-2 form, you get to file the special IRS 1099-MISC form! Despite having the reputation of being confusing, the 1099 provides for a few advantages that most people aren’t aware of — especially with the new tax code revamp.
For example, because your paycheck will arrive in full without any tax withholdings under the 1099, you are responsible for your own taxes. This means that when the time comes for you to make your quarterly estimated tax payments, you calculate your own tax liabilities. Don’t overpay in taxes again! And as a self-employed contractor, you can also deduct certain business expenses such as office supplies or travel expenses.
For more ways you can reap freelance tax benefits, check out our blog post on how to file your taxes as a locum tenens doctor that provides an in-depth look!
7. Gain New Experiences — and Friends!
Working as a locum tenens provides boundless opportunities for immense personal and professional growth, as you will be exposed to a variety of new backgrounds. As a freelancer, you will learn to quickly adjust to a new environment and learn to be adaptable. Each new facility will also offer something new for you to learn from — from small, rural clinics to large, urban hospitals.
As you travel to different regions and neighborhoods, you will also encounter diverse medical conditions, meet new patients with intriguing problems, and hear fascinating life stories. New experiences can provide fresh perspectives that not only better educates yourself, but also be a competitive advantage in the workforce. You can leverage diverse experiences and perspectives to negotiate for better terms if you ever look for a permanent position. An additional bonus: you’ll have friends all across the country wherever you go!
Although millennials have made locum tenens a popular career choice again, locums work has been around forever. Locum tenens offer a variety of advantages that can serve you regardless of your specialty, age, or career stage.
Tempted to try locum tenens work yet? Jump start your life and start looking for locum tenens jobs today!
Whether you were inspired by this article, or not yet ready to make the leap, Nomad has abundant locums and permanent job opportunities waiting for you!