Choosing to start or finish your career as a locum is decidedly different from working as a staff physician or owning your own practice. The world of the locum tenens physician is one of constant change, unique challenges, and a plethora of different work environments and personalities.
As a new locum, you will undoubtedly hear lots of advice from seasoned professionals. You might even receive advice from someone who has never worked as a locum before. Your job is to sort out the good from the bad. We would like to offer some advice of our own, so we have put together our list of helpful tips for new locums. We hope you find them useful.
1. Obtain Multiple Licenses
By obtaining and maintaining multiple licenses, you will increase your marketability. Not only that, you will have access to some choice assignments if license issues arise. Maintaining multiple licenses is not hard in principle, but it does require some organizational skills. Some staffing companies, such as VISTA Staffing Solutions, offer license and credentialing services.
2. Hire a CPA
Locums are self-employed contractors who essentially run their own businesses working for medical facilities. Taking just one or two assignments per year might be manageable for accounting purposes; anything more than that can be challenging. Our advice is to hire a CPA to handle your accounting and taxes for you. Otherwise, you will be left to handle all of it yourself – including having to remember to file quarterly estimated taxes with the federal government. One missed payment could cost you more trouble than it's worth.
3. Manage Your Expectations and Find a Good Recruiter
It is important to let recruiters know what your expectations are when you sign on with a staffing company. Be clear and concise as well. As you go from one assignment to the next, be sure to let recruiters know when expectations have been met, when they have not been met, and when they have been exceeded. A regular and open dialogue with your recruiter will lead to an improved relationship over time. Also, every opportunity is different. Some will be undoubtedly better than others, and it is up to you how selective you want, or can, be.
4. Always Be Professional
You will gain a reputation within the industry, for better or worse. Furthermore, you will make your career a lot more enjoyable and productive if you make a point of always being professional in everything you do. Keep in mind that professionalism includes treating your colleagues with respect, following all the rules and policies of the facilities where you work and being cooperative. Maintaining a professional reputation will open doors for the best assignments and make return locum tenens assignments more likely.
5. Embrace the Digital World
If you have not yet embraced the digital world, it is time to do so. With every assignment you accept, there will be additional paperwork that needs to be stored. You will have letters of reference, tax records, professional recommendations, and so on. You will also be updating your CV after every assignment. It's best to store these documents electronically so you can carry them with you wherever you go.
Your time as a locum will be as good as you make it. So learn from these tips as well as information you glean from others. The more you know about being a successful locum, the more enjoyable your career will be. You might even decide you like doing enough to make it a permanent lifestyle. At the very least, make the most of this opportunity to explore new locales and make new friends.