Locum tenens, a Latin phrase meaning "place holder," is a term used to describe physicians who work temporary assignments at medical facilities. While the locum tenens lifestyle can be rewarding, offering flexibility and the opportunity to explore different locations and practice settings, it's not without its challenges. In this blog post, we will delve into four downsides of working as a locum tenens physician that you should consider before embarking on this career path.
Lack of Stability and Job Security
One of the most significant drawbacks of locum tenens work is the lack of stability and job security. Unlike permanent positions, locum tenens assignments are temporary, which means you may constantly be on the lookout for new opportunities. The uncertainty of not knowing where you'll be working next can be anxiety-inducing, especially for physicians with families and financial obligations.
Limited Benefits and Retirement Savings
Another downside of working as a locum tenens physician is the limited benefits and retirement savings options. As an independent contractor, you're generally not eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance, paid time off, or retirement plans. This means you'll need to secure your own insurance and manage your retirement savings, which can be both time-consuming and expensive. Additionally, while locum tenens assignments typically pay well, it's important to budget for potential gaps in employment.
Difficulties in Building Long-term Professional Relationships
Working in different healthcare facilities and locations can make it challenging to build long-term professional relationships. Locum tenens physicians often face difficulties in establishing and maintaining relationships with colleagues, mentors, and patients. This lack of continuity may lead to feelings of isolation and a diminished sense of professional fulfillment. Furthermore, the lack of consistent exposure to the same group of colleagues can make it harder to secure strong references for future job opportunities.
Adapting to New Work Environments
As a locum tenens physician, you'll frequently face the challenge of adapting to new work environments. Each medical facility has its own culture, processes, and electronic medical record (EMR) systems. Adjusting to these different environments can be time-consuming and stressful. Additionally, constant change may make it difficult to establish a comfortable work-life balance, as you'll need to acclimate to new locations and living arrangements regularly.
While the locum tenens lifestyle offers numerous advantages, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons before diving in. The lack of stability, limited benefits, difficulty in building long-term relationships, and the need to adapt to new work environments are significant challenges. If you're considering a career as a locum tenens physician, it's crucial to carefully evaluate your priorities and goals to determine if this path is the right fit for you.
About the Author: Mark C. Royer, MD, MBA, is an Otolaryngologist and medical director at ENTLocums.com. While employed at a hospital, Dr. Royer and his Wife, Allison (also an ENT surgeon) experienced an overwhelming call burden and began using locums as a solution to this challenge. Their experience led to the creation of
ENTLocums.com, a locum tenens company addressing the unique needs of
physicians and hospitals and health systems. For more information,
please contact them at info@ENTLocums.com or visit their website at