Locums: Is it the Right Career Move for You? (And Who Should Avoid It)

Locums: Is it the Right Career Move for You? (And Who Should Avoid It)

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Locum tenens, or “place holder” in Latin, is temporary work in the medical industry where healthcare professionals fill in temporarily absent staff for a specified period. This trend has been on the rise in the healthcare industry as more and more doctors opt for locum work instead of traditional permanent positions. In fact, according to a recent survey by Staff Care, locum tenens physicians now account for more than 7 percent of the nation’s approximately 755,000 physicians.

The popularity of locum work can be attributed to various reasons, such as flexibility, higher earning potential, and the opportunity to gain diverse experiences. However, locum work may not be suitable for everyone.

This blog post will discuss who should and shouldn’t do locum work, providing a comprehensive understanding of this rising trend in the medical world.

Who Should Do Locum Work?

Locum work is perfect for healthcare professionals seeking a change in their careers. It allows them to explore different settings, gain new skills, and experience varied patient populations. Here are some specific groups of people who can benefit from locum work:

Newly Graduated Doctors

newly graduated doctors applying for locum work

For newly graduated doctors, locum work offers the perfect opportunity to experience different specialties, hospitals, and facilities before settling on a permanent position. It allows them to gain exposure to various environments, helping them to figure out their areas of interest and expertise. This can be crucial for setting a solid foundation for their future careers.

Doctors Seeking a Better Work-Life Balance

Many doctors today are seeking a better work-life balance. They want to spend more time with their families, pursue other interests, or avoid the long hours and stress associated with permanent positions. Locum work allows them to choose their shifts and schedules and balance their personal and professional lives better.

Doctors Traveling or Relocating

Locum work can be an ideal option for doctors who love to travel or are planning to relocate. It allows them to work in different locations temporarily while earning an income. This flexibility makes it easier for them to pursue their travel or relocation plans without worrying about finding a new job in their desired location.

Retired or Semi-Retired Doctors

Retired or Semi-Retired Doctors working in Locum

Retired or semi-retired doctors can use locum work to stay active. It enables them to continue practicing medicine without the full-time commitment and responsibility of a permanent position. Locum work also allows them to mentor and share their wealth of experience with younger doctors.

Who Shouldn’t Do Locum Work?

While locum work offers many benefits, it may not suit everyone. Here are some specific situations where locum work may not be the best option:

Doctors Who Need Stability

Locum work, by its very nature, is temporary and constantly changing. This may not be suitable for doctors who prefer stability and continuity. For them, the uncertainty and frequent changes associated with locum work may cause stress and discomfort.

Doctors Who Don’t Like Adaptability

Locum work requires doctors to adapt quickly to new environments, colleagues, patients, and procedures. For those who are uncomfortable with change or prefer to work in a familiar setting, locum work may not be the ideal choice. The constant need to adjust and learn in new environments can be challenging for some individuals.

Doctors Seeking Benefits

Locum work is typically not accompanied by the same benefits as permanent positions, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. For doctors who rely on these benefits, locum work may not be financially feasible. Considering the monetary compensation and benefits before accepting a locum position is crucial.


Locum work is a growing trend in the healthcare industry, offering numerous benefits for healthcare professionals and facilities. While it may not be suitable for everyone, it provides a valuable option for many doctors looking for a career change or flexibility.

Regardless of whether one chooses to pursue locum work or not, it is essential to carefully consider one’s own priorities, preferences, and circumstances before making a decision. So, if you fall into any of the above-mentioned categories, locum work may be the perfect solution for you.

Five FAQs About Locum Work

1. How much can one earn as a locum physician?

The earning potential for locum work varies depending on specialty, location, and experience. Generally, locum physicians can earn more than permanent positions due to the higher demand for temporary work. According to the Staff Care survey, the average daily income for a locum tenens physician is around $2,657.

2. Do doctors need special licenses or certifications for locum work?

While it is essential to check with specific state requirements, most locum work does not require any special licenses or certifications. However, some specialties or positions may require additional credentials or experience.

3. Is there a demand for locum work all year round?

Yes, the demand for locum work is high throughout the year. Hospitals and facilities often face staff shortages for various reasons, making locum tenens physicians a valuable resource for filling those vacancies.

4. Can doctors have a say in where they work as a locum?

Yes, doctors can choose their preferred locations for locum work. Some agencies and platforms allow physicians to select from available opportunities in their desired locations.

5. Can locum work lead to permanent positions?

Yes, locum work can sometimes lead to permanent positions. For doctors seeking a change, locum work can be an excellent opportunity to showcase their skills, build connections, and potentially secure a permanent position in their desired location.

Have you considered locum work? Do you have any other questions related to locum work? Let us know in the comments below!

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