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Locum Tenens

Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that literally means "one who 'holds the place,'" and refers to a physician who temporarily carries on the practice of an absent colleague. A locum tenens may be a ticket to experience an urban, rural, solo, small group, multispecialty group, or a hospital-associated practice. Locum tenens positions for internists are contract-based and physicians are signed on as independent contractors through a recruiting firm to work at a given practice setting. These encompass all care settings, from inpatient hospitalist medicine, outpatient primary care or urgent care medicine in various clinical settings, and more. Depending on the clinical practice setting, there is often a required minimum length of time for a given post; for example, outpatient primary care locum tenens can often be a minimum duration of 2-3 months for a full-time clinical position. For hospital medicine, there may be a minimum number of shifts of a given duration that must be done per quarter.

A locum tenens allows you the opportunity to experience the lifestyles associated with various geographic locations. Information on locum tenens opportunities is almost unlimited. Typical resources include classified ads in professional journals, medical magazines, the American Medical Association, and some state medical societies. A quick search of the Internet uncovered dozens of recruiting firms that provide national and local locum tenens placement services, although there are also a growing number of physician-owned locum tenens companies.

An important consideration when evaluating locum tenens opportunities is the availability and extent of malpractice insurance. Locum tenens practices may only provide basic claims-made malpractice insurance without tail coverage. It is important to negotiate a malpractice tail as part of the locum tenens agreement or plan to purchase such coverage separately. For any contract negotiations, it may be helpful to consider having a contract attorney with experience working with medical professionals to review the terms of the contract.

Locum tenens positions may pay slightly more than a comparable salaried position in a group practice. The salary is generally very competitive, but benefits are often lacking and arranging suitable malpractice insurance will be a priority task. This is because you will not be earning any benefits as a locum tenens practitioner. It may be helpful to talk with colleagues who may have experience working with a particular locum tenens firm. Some companies offer referral bonuses to contracted physicians for referring others, and if you received a referral from a colleague, they may be a resource to understand the company, its culture, and its terms better.

Locum tenens may have begun as an option for physicians who have not yet finalized their plans for further specialty training or practice. Indeed, locum tenens can provide an ideal opportunity to experience different types of practices in various parts of the country without significant monetary investment. However, there are some who may find it a rewarding experience to do as a career alternative, which is a personal decision based on the various advantages and drawbacks.

Furthermore, global locum tenens is a growing option available for those with an interest in practicing in a non-U.S. country. These are typically accessible through global locum tenens recruiting firms.