How to Use Locum Tenens for Professional Networking

June 4th, 2014 3 Min read How to Use Locum Tenens for Professional Networking Blog
cornfieldIf you are familiar with the phrase “six degrees of separation,” you may know that research indicates individuals are separated by no more than six degrees of social contacts. In a competitive physician job market, those degrees of separation matter. Locum tenens is a great way to network and get you closer to the job you’re looking for. Metro-Area Jobs Can be Tough to Find — Locum Tenens Can Help In the current job market, finding a job in metro areas will be a challenge. It’s common for new physicians to request that we limit our search to large metropolitan areas like Chicago, Atlanta, or Los Angeles. We find that many of these positions are filled through networking and are rarely posted through agencies. One way to break into a crowded metro job market is to work as a locum tenens in an outlying area. Many of the providers you will work with in outlying areas have connections to larger hospitals and groups. Working locum tenens with well-connected physicians is a great way to shorten the six degrees of separation to one or two degrees. There are also other benefits to working outside of metro areas. The job search timeframe is shorter and working locum tenens looks good on a CV and helps you avoid gaps in employment while waiting for a metro job. Jobs are Often Offered to Professional Acquaintances When we talk to key decision-makers, they often recognize the names of interested physicians. Many of these decision-makers are physicians within the same specialty who have worked in the state for several years and are intimately aware of the job landscape and healthcare providers. Sometimes their decision to work with a certain physician is based on the candidate’s reputation, where they attended school, or if they have local ties. As you apply for a locum position, and with the help of your representative, check the hospital or practice for people you might know. Review their website and do some research on who you are applying with. Many websites have personal physician bios. Check where they went to school and get to know their background. Your representative can use this information to make ties and generate interest in you. On Average, Rural Physician Jobs Pay Better Working as a locum tenens physician in a rural market or somewhere outside of a metro area may result in a higher salary, as rural hospitals and groups are willing to pay more to attract the right talent. Here’s what the Medscape’s Physician Compensation Report for 2014 had to say about pay:

“As in previous years' surveys and in keeping with other national data, the highest earners live in the North Central and Great Lakes regions and the lowest in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The Bureau for Labor Statistics also reports that rural PCPs have higher earnings than those who live in cities. This disparity might be attributed to less competition in smaller communities, which usually have to pay more to attract physicians. The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 increased Medicare rates for rural physicians, which might also play a role in the differences among regions. On the other hand, higher population concentrations and heavy competition in the Northeast may have resulted in lower compensation in this region. To make matters worse for urban physicians, the cost of living is also lower in rural areas, and one report said this translates to 13 percent more purchasing power in the country vs the city.

As you make a decision on where you want to practice, you should become informed about the dynamic factors of choosing a metro area as your preference. Although it is a good goal, it may be best achieved by opening your opportunities through networking, seeking personal connections, and researching compensation. You may find that working as a locum tenens could be just what you need to get you to the ideal job.