Compensation works differently for locum tenens physicians, according to CompHealth Locum Tenens president, Lisa Grabl. “Unlike a more traditional salaried job, locums are independent contractors and are usually paid a flat hourly rate for the time they work, whether it’s a weekend shift in an emergency department or a six-month stint as a hospitalist.”
Demand for the specialty: Facilities pay more for specialties that are competitive or difficult to fill.
Location and type of facility: Locum tenens positions exist across the country, but rural facilities or those having trouble attracting permanent candidates will pay more than those in popular urban locales will.
Skill set: Positions calling for difficult procedures or specialized skills often pay more than general assignments.
Type of shifts needed: Working weekends, call, or holidays may result in a higher hourly locum tenens pay rate.
Patient load also plays a role — high workload positions usually pay more than slower-paced assignments. Also, as independent contractors, locums physicians receive higher pay to offset not receiving traditional benefits like health insurance and retirement contributions, which they must manage on their own. Many locums physicians will set up an incorporated entity to reap additional tax benefits.
Licensing, credentialing, and privileging are usually taken care of by the locums agency as are the costs of medical malpractice insurance, travel, and housing — all considerable expenses. Locum tenens agencies also typically have a deep knowledge of the licensing, credentialing, and privileging processes in different facilities and states and the relationships to expedite the processes.
The locums lifestyle isn’t for everyone, but for those who are ready to try a new adventure, it’s a lucrative way to work as a physician.