Statistics cited by a Medscape piece published in January 2017 show that 75% of locum tenens physicians are 51 years of age or older; just 10% are 40 years old or younger. Furthermore, 65% of active locums have been practicing medicine for at least 20 years. The statistics paint an interesting picture of the average locum as a seasoned doctor on the downhill slope of his or her career.
The numbers lead to the obvious question of how new locums approach the remainder of their careers once they start accepting locum assignments. To be sure, deciding to enter the locum arena almost always leads to adopting a whole new lifestyle. It is simply a matter of choosing what kind of lifestyle suits the new locum best.
Full-Time, Plenty of Travel
Tiva Healthcare, a staffing company specializing in locum physician staffing, says that a good deal of their doctors initially start working full-time with travel time between assignments. Some are using locum tenens to transition to retirement while others have simply given up on private practice. Either way, they are combining work they love with a passion for travel.
This is certainly one way to go. Locums who want to work full time and travel really have an open ticket. They can travel across the state, across the country, or even around the world – all the while working and treating patients.
Full-Time, Local Travel
Tiva says there are also doctors who want the benefits of locum tenens work without so much travel. So the company has created a program for doctors who want to stay local. These doctors can still take as much work as they want, when they want, but all their travel remains close to home.
The local option is ideal for doctors who want to spend more time with family that also lives locally. Indeed, children and grandchildren are great motivation to stay locally as much as possible. The locum can still control where he or she works without sacrificing time spent with family.
Yet another locum lifestyle is represented in the doctor who works part-time only. This is a doctor who might accept shorter assignments with more down time between them. And even those assignments that are accepted may involve fewer than 40 hours per week.
Part-time locum physicians still enjoy the benefits of remaining active in medicine without having to commit 40 hours per week and 50 weeks per year. A lot of the doctors who use locum work to transition to retirement eventually adopt this model. It works for them, so it is all good.
Part-Time, with Full-Time Work
Lastly are those doctors who take part-time locum assignments even while continuing to work their private practices or full-time jobs. They tend to be doctors looking to either bring in a little extra cash to pay off school loans or just put some money in the bank.
Part-timers with concurrent full-time jobs confine themselves to local assignments for obvious reasons. One assignment might be at a hospital across town while another consists of filling in for a private practice colleague who needs someone to fill in during his vacation.
There are lots of different scenarios under which a doctor could engage in locum tenens work. The options offered here only scratch the surface. Suffice it to say that there are innumerable ways to work as a locum physician and still accommodate the kind of lifestyle a doctor wants to enjoy. Such flexibility is one of the reasons so many doctors have no regrets about moving to the locum arena.