A Quick Guide to the Locum Tenens Practice

    Have you been in a discussion where the term “locum tenens” was mentioned and it left you wondering what it is all about? Well, we can guess with a great deal of certainty that you have, which is why you are currently reading this article. 

    Therefore, to ensure that you can make valuable input to the discussion when next the matter comes up, we have compiled this quick guide just for you. This guide will provide you with the basic information you need to know regarding this healthcare practice. 

    Let’s get right into it…

    What Locum Tenens Is

    The phrase “locum tenens” is Latin for “to hold the place of, to substitute for”. Visit to find out if Latin is a dead language. From this, you can guess that this practice is designed to substitute certain persons for others. But what persons are we talking about? Well, just keep reading…

    The University of Utah received a federal grant at the beginning of the 1970s to provide physicians to some rural clinics to serve as temporary staff in medically under-staffed areas. As a result of the success of the program, a lot of healthcare institutions began to request that such stand-in physicians be sent to their facilities to assist. 

    Thanks to this, in our day, several thousand physicians including psychiatrists, NPs, Pas, and CRNAs in the United States serve as independent contractors that work with certain locum tenens agencies.   

    Will Locum Tenens be the Right Fit for Me? 

    Irrespective of your career point or level, this working option will be the right fit. Although most people think that it is designed for practitioners that are semi-retired, however, you can engage in this option as a resident or even mid-career. 

    The stand-out advantage of this alternative is that you get to work at your own pace. Therefore, you have free time to do other things that you are equally passionate about. This is in stark contrast to full-time professionals that are in most cases consumed with their work. 

    When you are in contract with an agency, you get coverage for travel fees to the place of assignment. Your lodging costs are covered and malpractice insurance is even thrown in. Hence, you can rest assured without worrying about logistics. 

    Most of these agencies ensure that your assignments align with your interests. They have credentialing specialists that ensure you enjoy the best credential privileges. Some of the benefits of locum tenen include the following:

    • If you are just coming out of medical school, you get to sample various practice settings and positions before choosing a permanent setting and position. 
    • Earn additional income – you can pay off your debt for medical school or you could just gain additional income for personal and family needs. Even after retiring, you can augment your retirement income with this job. 
    • Enjoy flexibility – you get to decide when and where you want to work. You can turn an assignment into a family vacation by traveling with your family. 
    • You get to meet new medical staff as you move from location to location. 
    • If you are mid-way in your career, you get to learn and acquire new skills. You could even opt to change your career while you maintain your license and retain the sharpness of your skills. 
    • You also get to visit new locations as you move to different assignment locations without spending a dime. 
    • Offer patients quality healthcare which they might not have access to especially for those living in rural or poor communities. 
    • You stand to gain better clinical experience as you aren’t bothered by the administrative aspect of the job. 
    • Balance your family and work life. 

    Do I need an Agency?

    While you can function as a stand-in physician, you should contract with an agency. They will handle most of the business and logistics which will allow you to deal with just administering care to the patients.

    If you use an agency, they will take care of the following: 

    • Negotiation of contracts with healthcare institutions as your representative 
    • Acquisition of license in another state
    • Getting insurance for medical malpractice
    • Organizing transportation to and from your assignment location
    • Acquisition of credentials at the facility of assignment
    • Securing lodging place in the assignment location
    • Direct deposition of paychecks

    How to Work With a Locum Tenens Recruiter? 

    The following are tips on how to work with a recruiting agency:

    i. Have a working relationship with a minimum of 2 agencies. 

    ii. Create a bond with the recruiter. Tell them about your dislikes and likes. 

    iii. Ensure that your paperwork is in order. 

    iv. Keep a minimum of 5 licenses that are active. Ask your agency to get more for you. 

    v. Keep your references for a minimum of 6 months.

    vi. Always have a malpractice COI (Certificate of Insurance). Click here to get a better understanding of the Certificate of Insurance.


    The above guide should give you something to input into a discussion about locum tenens. We believe it has also settled some of the reservations you might have had about engaging in this practice.


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