Locum Tenens Advice

Anesthesiology is a rapidly changing field. The pandemic has accelerated this change, leading to increased demand for locum tenens anesthesiologists. Locum tenens means "to hold one's place," and it refers to a type of contract work in which an anesthesiologist is hired to work for a temporary period of time.  To me it means that you are a contractor, employed by yourself as a sole proprietor or through your own company. You essentially get contracts to work with a hospital, a group, or an agency.

There are many advantages to working as a locum tenens anesthesiologist. First, locum tenens anesthesiologists have the flexibility to choose their own schedule, location, and type of work. They can work short-term or long-term contracts, and they can choose to work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and surgery centers. This flexibility allows locum tenens anesthesiologists to balance their work and personal lives in a way that works best for them.  In my opinion is a fantastic option if you are willing to work a lot, do overnight call, stay late at the hospital, are comfortable without backup, are quick and efficient at regional and in general are completely comfortable working at the full scope of your practice. The more deficiencies or restrictions you have the more I would avoid it, unless you can secure a position that you are completely comfortable with and are ok being out of work. As locum tenens doctor you are competing with other locum tenens physicians.  Like everything in life, usually the ones providing the best value in terms of skills and cost will be given priority.

If you are new to locums and planning on working on a lot of places, I found that working with agencies may is the best option. They may have a pulse on the market and have a good idea of where significant need is and the more you work them the more, they know your capabilities and can gauge fit. If you have a good relationship with them. They may prioritize placing you at a place, before offering it to other applicants. Additionally, agencies negotiate for you. You set your terms and they do all the negotiation. It doesn’t mean you will get every job but I think it help guarantee you would be getting otherwise higher rates. I think it is somewhat of a misconception that “cutting out” the agency can be more profitable. I have not found this to be true. I believe this may be because as an individual the hospital/group may know you are probably from the area or interested in the area and won’t want to pay locums rates if they don’t have to, especially as it may complicate matters with current staff. Agency’s draw applications from a national audience. No place can afford to pay locum rates for the entire staff.

Locum tenens anesthesiologists have the opportunity to travel. They can choose to work in any location in the country, and they can even travel internationally. This is a great way to see new places and experience different cultures.  I have strongly considered locums in places I like to vacation.  It does take significant amount of time to set up state licenses and get credentialed but if you like certain locations a lot, it may be worthwhile to invest in permanent housing in those areas, which can even help open new opportunities for additional income streams.

Additionally, as a locum tenens anesthesiologists you may be constantly exposed to new procedures and technologies and different ways to do anesthesia.  You learn a lot by working in a variety of environments which can make you a better anesthesiologist.  Locum tenens anesthesiologists report high levels of job satisfaction. This is because they generally have the freedom to choose their own work, they earn good salaries, and they have the opportunity to travel. The politics in locums is signficantly less than as with a traditional employee.

The market will settle at some point, however, if you are hungry, it’s a great strategy.

-R. 4/29/23