…..For most of us, it started near the end of residency.  The barrage of calls, texts, and emails from locums recruiters promising piles of money in exchange for practicing in a rural community in a state you’ve never even visited. Perhaps you, like me, found yourself briefly daydreaming about hopping on a flight (or a couple of flights) to arrive in that town, work for a couple of weeks, stuff your well-earned dollars into an extra suitcase and go home.

…..Let’s start by dispelling a common myth. Not all locums assignments require flight travel. It is very possible that there are high-paying locums assignments within driving distance of your home. Community hospitals even a few hours from major cities often experience a dearth of physician coverage and are willing to pay large sums of money for short-term or long-term staffing. Additionally, I am a proponent of exploring locums opportunities in states where you are already licensed. Given the amount of time, money, and paperwork it takes to obtain a state license, exploring states where you already hold a license will expedite the process and give valuable experience.

…..Private locums agencies are hired by hospitals to recruit and credential physicians for short or long-term staffing assignments. The assigned agent is not a medical professional, but an intermediary essential in the negotiation process. The agent will present an applicant’s resume to the contracting hospital and, if accepted, facilitate credentialing, negotiate schedule, provide malpractice insurance coverage, and arrange travel and lodging accommodations. The physician will be paid directly by the locums agency rather than by the hospital.

…..The need may be inpatient or outpatient or a combination of both. Many positions also offer a 24-hour on-call rate (just to remain within a certain radius of the hospital for emergencies) and an hourly on-call rate. As a locums contractor, health benefits and retirement contributions are not provided. But not to fear, you can procure those benefits on your own.

…..Negotiation of all terms. From salary to schedule, every aspect of a locums offer is negotiable (never accept the opening salary offer). Increased pay rates on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, can frequently be negotiated as well. Finally, nurses aren’t the only ones who can collect holiday pay!

…..Malpractice Insurance Coverage Provided. The locums agency will provide high-quality malpractice insurance.

…..Travel. Explore a new town or community through a short-term locums assignment! They will undoubtedly be happy to have you.

…..All Travel and Lodging Expenses Covered. Nothing will be at-cost to you.

Salary: $2000/day or more (depending on number of hours worked)

Flexibility meter: 7/10. You may be able to negotiate working part or all of an available block that a hospital offers.