Dr. Johnny Shen was finishing his residency as a family practice physician, when he realized he didn’t want to jump into a permanent job. He worried that he wouldn’t find the right job, his work/life balance would be practically nonexistent, and he wouldn’t be happy.
He was scanning online physician forums when learned about locum tenens. After doing some more research, he decided these temporary assignments would be the perfect fit for him.
Here’s more about his experience going from medical residency to working locum tenens.
What makes a good locum tenens physician?
Dr. Shen says a locum tenens has to be adaptable. He explains that if you’re trained as a physician, you already have the skills and capability to become a locum tenens physician.
What are the benefits of working with a recruiting agent?
“It makes me feel like I’m an athlete or some kind of movie star,” Dr. Shen jokes. He explains that recruiting agents book his schedule, organize his travel and lodging, and work to find him the best deal.
What should residents or fellows know about locum tenens?
Dr. Shen explains that locum tenens helps new doctors learn how the business of medicine works, which is something that medical schools often don’t teach. He also mentions that residents should know how flexible locum tenens can be.
How do you explain locum tenens to family and friends?
“They think that I’ve graduated residency and I don’t have a permanent job, and they are wondering whether it’s because I’m struggling to find something. I tell them, ‘No, it’s the exact opposite. I get to choose when I work, I get to find my jobs, and I get to have a week off,’” explains Dr. Shen.
How does locum tenens impact your work/life balance?
Dr. Shen says that it locum tenens really worked out for his schedule—he can take time off whenever he wants, and he can spend time with his family, his girlfriend, and his hobbies.
How does locum tenens compensation compare to residency?
Locum tenens has let Dr. Shen start to pay off student loans, and he still money left over. He says it helps to know upfront how much money he’ll be making.
Is it scary to try locum tenens right out residency?
Prior to his first locum tenens assignment, Dr. Shen was nervous, but he said it turned out to feel just like residency, without the fear of committing to a job that isn’t right for him.