For many years, there was a negative connotation associated with locums work. Locums practitioners were once felt to all be poor clinicians that couldn’t keep a real job. This has changed over time with more practitioners entering the locums industry. A growing community of locums practitioners are balking at this old mantra. Now, you can find highly qualified practitioners doing locums for the lifestyle and money. An expanding number of clinicians don’t want to practice medicine in their traditional roles. For whatever reasons, some practitioners don’t want a “real job.” So many clinicians no longer want the standard employer-employee model. They would prefer to work within other models. Some want independent contractor status, others want to work part-time, and some barely want to work.
This article examines why practitioners might be interested in untraditional roles such as locums-type work. We define “locums-type” work and how practitioners can do such work for their primary or secondary source of income. We hope that this article gets practitioners to look at locums differently and how they might be able to arrange a work schedule that best suits them.
There are many reasons to leave the traditional employer-employee model, as it is not for everyone. Every practitioner has their reasons for leaving their traditional medical role. It may be due to burnout, family obligations, financial situation, or other reasons. No matter your reason for leaving your traditional medical role, there are many options for clinicians wanting to practice differently within the locums arena.
There are many reasons for practitioners to consider the locums life. For most clinicians doing locums, they have found that you can make good money while working your own schedule. Work when you want! Some want to work excessive hours and make large amounts of cash doing locums. That is fine, but most of those doing locums do it because it pays well, can work less, and improve work-life balance.
There is an increasing number of practitioners leaving the profession of medicine for non-clinical work and other careers. There is no reason to leave medicine altogether if you don’t want to or don’t need to. There are many part-time opportunities where you can work around your other priorities in life. To a degree, locums allows you to stay in medicine while working and pursuing other avenues.
We recognize that the term “locums” will never be abandoned from our lexicon. Since we can’t delete the term from our vocabulary, we hope to redefine what it means and people’s perceptions of it. We believe that there are traditional medical roles, and then there are locums. We refer to the other forms of practicing medicine, outside the traditional employer-employee model and private practice, as “Locums-type” work. Locums-type work is a broad term that encompasses many ways to practice medicine, just not in the traditional sense.
What is “locums-type” work? There are many ways to do locums. Although most associate locums work as that work provided thru a locums company, any non-traditional, part-time work can be considered locums work. For this discussion, any work done outside the traditional work-life model should be regarded as “locums-type work.” This might include work that has been conventionally labeled as something else. The following are other ways to do locums, or what we refer to as locums-type work.
- Per diem
- Weekend coverage
- Independent contractor
- Hospitalist, surgicalist, laborist, etc
- Private locums
This work can be done as an employee (W2) or independent contractor (1099). It can be short-term or long-term, full-time or part-time. It can be a one-time gig or recurring work. There are many types of arrangements to consider for locums-type work. Locums-type work offers practitioners a non-traditional lifestyle as a primary source of income or ways to make additional income outside their traditional full-time role.
Locums-type assignments can come in any shape or size. It depends on the facility’s needs and if the practitioner is available to provide coverage. Practitioners should attempt to find facilities that offer what they are looking for and aligns with their preferred lifestyle. The following are some examples of arrangements that can be made for locums-type work with a facility.
- 1-2 days per week
- 1-2 weeks per month
- 7-10 days per month
- 1-2 weekends per month
- 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off
- 1 month on, 1 month off
- 5 days on, 10 days off
There are many reasons why practitioners may choose to do locums-type work. Practitioners may want an improved quality of life or additional income. They may simply want out of the traditional roles. Practitioners must recognize that they have options to practice medicine in an untraditional sense. No matter a practitioner’s age or experience, there are opportunities to contract directly with facilities for locums-type work. It is up to both parties to develop mutually beneficial locums-type arrangements.