Understanding ‘locum tenens’ – Part 1

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What is ‘locum tenens’ and what are the benefits?

‘Locum tenens’ is a Latin phrase that translates literally to ‘place holder’. In the medical field, locum tenens refers to a medical professional who temporarily fills in for the regular staff physician when that physician is away from work or temporarily fills up a vacancy when a hospital or private practice is short-staffed. Despite the transient nature of the job, these professionals are still governed by their respective regulatory bodies.  

A Gap Medics student checks out some scans in a partner neurological hospital in Thailand Benefits of locum tenens

If you are unsure whether or not this is a path you’d like to pursue, there are several benefits that are worth looking into:

It allows you to try out various practice settings

If you are a resident just out of training and are not sure whether you’d prefer to join a large hospital or a smaller private clinic, you can use locum tenens to get a feel for both. When working in a larger hospital your work would be focused solely on medical matters whereas in a private clinic you would have to take care of the clinical as well as the business side of things. Locum tenens experience in both areas would give you a better perspective on your strengths and weaknesses, your likes and dislikes. You may come away feeling that the risk of being in a smaller place is well worth the reward or you may decide that you would rather work with a more established organisation for the security that it offers.

It helps supplement your monthly income and offsets tight credit

Borrowing money today is more difficult than ever before. Whether you need the money for school fees, a new home, office building, family vehicle or an investment property, practicing locum tenens is an excellent way to earn some extra money that can be used as a down payment on these types of purchases. The higher your down payment, the more likely lenders are to approve your loan application.

It helps stretch those retirement dollars

It is all too easy to lose part or all of your retirement funds in stocks or real estate. While those investments may inch their way back to health in the years to come, sometimes it can be too slow to meet your needs. Locum tenens is a more effective way to replace recently realised losses faster. Working even just one weekend a month or a couple of weeks a year can add up quickly and help stretch your retirement savings.

It paves a smoother way for returning to work

Like all other professionals, physicians too may need to take time away from work for various reasons. Women may take time off during their pregnancy or male professionals may take time off to attend to other family commitments. However, the longer they stay away the more difficult it may be to get another job. Locum tenens offers a practical solution for physicians who are looking for the flexibility to work around a busy family schedule.

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