The word 'locum' is a French word derived from the Latin phrase 'locum tenens', which means “place holder.” We traditionally view the locum tenens physician or provider as a medical practitioner filling a temporary coverage gap for another provider or physician who is on vacation, sabbatical, family leave or other extended absence. Yet for a rising number of locum tenens physicians and providers, the work is not temporary at all: It is becoming an increasingly popular full-time career opportunity.
A recent 2015 survey shows that between 6 and 7 percent of America's physicians consider locum tenens work their full-time career. This survey also speculates that the aforementioned number could spike as high as 11 percent before the end of 2017.
A Natural Result
Many in the healthcare industry have a warranted tendency to look at trends as mere fluctuations, an understandable footing given the many recent changes in medicine. However, in regards to the increasing popularity of locum tenens work, this viewpoint is myopic: Not only do providers enjoy locum tenens work and the flexibility it offers, healthcare facilities, practices and governing bodies are acknowledging the need for locum tenens provider-ship. In other words, there’s a demand for locum tenens provider-ship across the board.
American healthcare policy and resource allocation serve as impetus for the increasing popularity of locum tenens work—work characterizing changes in the practice of medicine unlike any we’ve seen in the past century. Rising healthcare costs and several government regulations understandably ask that facilities, practices and providers do more with less. Locum tenens work may be a natural result of this phenomenon. Nobody is reprehensible for this, but not everyone can agree on what direction healthcare should follow, especially given the field’s vast array of changes.
The typical locum tenens provider wants the opportunity to practice medicine as his or her own boss, and this may also account for the increasing popularity of locum tenens provider-ship. Those who join the locum tenens bandwagon, therefore, are excited to work as self-employed contractors.
The Self-Employed Contractor
Locum tenens work is an increasingly popular full-time occupation because it enables providers to work as self-employed contractors, meaning they can accept or decline assignments as they see fit, allowing them control over where and when they work. And even though they are obligated to fulfill the responsibilities of an employee with every assignment, they can reject assignments that are not to their liking. Working as a locum tenens provider is right up there with having one's own private practice, especially for providers who love to travel and wish to practice medicine without tending to the business side of the industry.
Although locum tenens providers do not make up the majority of medical practitioners, their increasing popularity is warranted and helps members of the medical field adapt to the ever-changing contours of the industry. Given the expansion of locum tenens work and global demand for it, we can expect to see locum tenens accepted as a full-time career option by more providers, analysts and forecasters alike.
- Health Leaders Media – http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/content/PHY-313808/Physician-Locum-Ten...