A locum, or locum tenens, is the healthcare equivalent of a substitute teacher. When physicians are absent, or healthcare facilities are short on staff, a locum tenens can fill in. They are hired on a temporary basis, of no longer than 60 days. However, companies can continue to hire different locum tenens as needed.
There are benefits to working as a locum tenens. It allows a physician to gain unique perspective and knowledge, as he or she is able to work in different practices in different locations. It is also a good opportunity for physicians transitioning between careers, or looking to lessen their workload. The top four reasons to work as a locum tenens are flexibility, travel, extra income, and clinical experience.
Locum tenens do not have to specialize in the same medical field as the physician they are filling in for. However, they do have to have a National Provider Identifier, and an unrestricted license in the state they are practicing in. For example, if a physician is licensed to practice in Illinois, they cannot try to obtain a job in California unless they have a California license.
To become a locum tenens, physicians should keep their resumes update by providing information about previous permanent and locum positions held. He or she should also keep references available, as well as, always keeping track of their certifications and licenses. It is also recommended to become board certified, and to obtain additional licenses in other states. The more versatile a locum tenens credentials are, the more likelihood he or she is going to be hired.
For companies hiring locum tenens, being updated on the policies for doing so are crucial. Using recruiting agencies can be a big help, as these agencies will handle licensing requirements, liability insurance, and will only recommend locum tenens they believe are qualified for the job. For companies that do not use a recruiting agency, make sure to stay updated on state licensing laws. It is also a good idea to be familiar with the company’s liability insurance policy, and to thoroughly look into a locum tenens’ qualifications.
Locum tenens can only be hired when a physician is on vacation, ill, on maternity leave, deployed or on active duty. They can also be hired when a physician has quit the practice, or has other business and educational obligations. Locum tenens cannot be hired on a long term basis.