Locum tenens – What are the pros and cons?

December 2, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

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On the internal medicine ward in India While most doctors prefer to look for a permanent position in a hospital, there are some aspects of a hospital job that may not be suitable for everybody. For several different reasons, some medical professionals may prefer a job that offers other benefits such as flexibility, the opportunity to travel or some other feature. If you are considering choosing the locum tenens path but are not quite sure if you are making the right choice, knowing the pros and cons can help you make a more informed decision. Locum tenens or temporary physicians can today be found in almost all healthcare settings, from hospitals and private clinics to community healthcare programmes and travel positions.


The pros of being a temporary physician

It acts as a trial period

 A temporary physician’s post allows you to try the job out and see if you like it or not. A rural posting may sound great and may offer some unique perks, but would you actually enjoy working in a rural setting for the long-term? As a temporary physician, you could try it out for a short while and see if it suits you before you decide on taking on a similar permanent post. This is a great way to test the waters before you plunge in.


It offers you the kind of flexibility you would never find in any permanent position

 Working as a locum tenens allows you to plan your schedule around important personal milestones, from family weddings to family vacations. You can create your calendar well in advance and take on positions or sign contracts that do not disrupt your personal plans.


You get to travel to new locations without dipping into your savings

 If you are bitten by the travel bug, this is the kind of work you will love. Temporary physicians are not tied down so they can change jobs and go off to the places they would love to visit without having to pay their way there. If you have a destination in mind, all you need to do is focus your search for job postings at that destination. It truly allows you to get the best of both worlds. It also helps you to absorb and learn from different cultures and working conditions.


The cons of being a temporary physician

You have to adjust constantly to different environments

 The one major downside of being a temporary physician is that you have to adjust to constantly changing work environments. While this works great for some, it is not something that everybody relishes. Some people prefer the comfort of knowing they can settle down in their jobs on a long-term basis. They like to grow familiar with their environment and their patients and a constantly changing environment does not fit into these plans.


You have to put your professional ambitions on hold

 If you have ambitious career plans, this may not be the right choice for you. The only way to climb the ladder in any career, including healthcare, is to stay in one place and earn your promotions. 


A final thought

There is no right or wrong choice. It all depends on your personality, your personal preferences and your long-term career goals.