Physicians rarely learn much about locum tenens jobs while they're in medical school, residency or fellowship. Most become more familiar with the concept through word-of-mouth, as they work with locum tenens physicians in hospitals or private practices. Many doctors are surprised to learn that these temporary assignments have different benefits at different times in a physician's career.
Early Career[caption id="" align="alignright" width="150"] Dr. Brian Harmych[/caption]
Dr. Brian Harmych knew he wanted to open his own facial plastic surgery practice after finishing his fellowship. But launching a practice doesn’t happen overnight. While he was working through the logistics of getting his own business up and running, Dr. Harmych worked locum tenens assignments. “From a financial standpoint, it’s an excellent opportunity, primarily because of the flexibility,” Harmych says of locum tenens. “I can pay the bills and arrange my locum assignments around important meetings [for my own practice].” In addition to the financial benefits, Harmych found mentors at his locum assignments that impacted the way he runs his own practice.
Mid-Career[caption id="" align="alignright" width="150"] Dr. Tina Passalaris[/caption]
Dr. Tina Passalaris loved working as a full-time oncologist at a large hospital, but it was taking a toll on her family. “I was absent from my kids’ lives. I didn’t go to school plays, and it was uncanny how often I would be on call during the most important nights,” she says. Now she works locum tenens assignments about four months a year and spends the rest of the time at home. “Although I’m absent 100 percent when I’m on an assignment, when I am home, I’m 100 percent home,” Dr. Passalaris says. Other physicians are curious about the assignments she takes at different facilities across the country. “Colleagues say, ‘I didn’t know you could move around like that!’ And I can see that their minds trail with the thought, “Wow, maybe I should do that!” she says. “I’ve been where they are, and I know how hard it is. I want to do locum tenens for the rest of my life.”
Late Career[caption id="" align="alignright" width="150"] Dr. Norman Baron[/caption]
Though he’s practiced internal medicine for more than 40 years, Dr. Norman Baron has no plans to hang up his stethoscope. In fact, he says, “Retirement will never be in my sights. In my blood is this burning desire to practice medicine — it’s just as much as a hobby as it is a vocation for me.” He has found that locum tenens allows him to keep practicing medicine, but on his own terms. He determines both the length and location of his assignments, allowing him to work near family — or sometimes in new areas he just wants to explore. “When I’m on assignment, I see myself as a good doctor who’s giving the best opinions that he can with his many years of experience and seeing that patient do well.”