7 Potential Challenges of Locums Assignments

7 Potential Drawbacks of Locum Tenens Assignments
Cross Country Locums
December 08, 2022 00:58 AM (GMT-04:00)
Provider Tips

Locum Tenens Assignments: Turning Challenges into Opportunities

For tens of thousands of physicians and advanced practice providers across the nation, locum tenens is an ideal arrangement. It gives providers freedom, flexibility, autonomy and adventure. Locum assignments can offer better work-life balance, more competitive pay, greater networking and learning opportunities, and less stress than permanent positions.

Although more and more providers are choosing the locums lifestyle, it's not for everyone. There are potential drawbacks to consider, but there are also measures you can take to overcome them!

1. Time Away from Home

Some providers may avoid locums because they don't want to be away from their homes, families or pets. However, there are locum tenens opportunities designed to fit almost any situation. In many cases, you can bring your partner and children along (some families take mini-vacations while the provider is working). You can even bring pets on some assignments.

If that's not possible, and you don't want to be away from your loved ones for an extended period, weekend assignments and shorter stints might be your best bet. If you're single or have a relationship that can withstand the distance, longer assignments may work well for you.

If you’re concerned about missing your friends or your town, consider that locum tenens assignments can offer opportunities to make additional friends and explore new places. And you won't even have to relocate, which means you'll be able to visit your old haunts and see your old friends when you return home.

2. Hassle of Travel

Some people just don't like to travel. If this describes you, you can still work locums. Just take assignments that are close to home. There are locum tenens opportunities in nearly every town. You may be able to moonlight or work weekends as a locum to earn extra money while keeping your permanent position.

If you decide to travel as a locums, know that when you work with a trusted locum tenens agency, you'll have a coordinator who will have plenty of travel tips to make life easier. Whether you're driving or flying, your team will make travel and housing arrangements for you. You can also take advantage of hotel, air, and car rental reward points. Plus, you'll typically be reimbursed for tolls, parking fees, fuel for rental car and mileage if you drive your own vehicle.

3. Pain of Paperwork

If the idea of navigating the paperwork involved in applying, licensing, credentialing, and privileging makes you cringe, you're not alone. This is what keeps some providers from making the leap to locums.

Locum tenens agencies know this can be a barrier, and we’re aware that the process is different for each health system and every state, so we work hard to streamline operations. If you find an agency with years of experience, their team can help you gather the necessary items and walk you through the process.

It's so much easier than doing it on your own. Consider applying for interstate licensure, which will make the process even easier and faster.

4. Challenges of Technology

Some providers may feel irritated or even intimidated by technology. If you're a digital native or tech-savvy person, you might be eager to jump in without hesitation and learn a new EHR or telehealth platform.

If not, you can take several measures to ensure technology doesn't complicate your new locums adventure. For example, ask whether you can access the technology training in advance, or ask for the name of the EHR or telehealth platform and search for training or videos online.

Also, cut yourself a break while learning new programs and ask others for help. Remember that each new platform you use expands your abilities – and your CV.

5. Fewer Traditional Benefits

Technically, there are fewer traditional benefits offered through locum tenens assignments than through salaried positions. However, there are perks that make this worthwhile. For example, Cross Country Locums provides malpractice and liability coverage (and have we mentioned the freedom to travel, reduced stress, networking opportunities and great pay?).

As an independent contractor, you only pay for the benefits you want, but you'll need to arrange your insurance and retirement benefits yourself. If you have a spouse with a salaried position with benefits, you may qualify for their insurance.

Otherwise, you may be able to enroll in COBRA temporarily or use the healthcare.gov insurance exchange. You can also consider getting insurance through American Medication Association Insurance, National Association for the Self-Employed, AARP or private independent insurance agencies.

6. Less Job Stability

You may be concerned about job stability. However, 85% of healthcare facilities report using locum tenens providers (Fierce Healthcare), so locums are in demand. With the growing shortages of providers, healthcare facilities across the nation need you to fill in.

If you develop a relationship with a trusted locum tenens agency, you'll have many assignments to choose from. A skilled recruiter can get your next assignment lined up for you before you even complete your current one. That should alleviate some concerns about instability.

Whether you're working close to home or traveling regionally or across the U.S., you can build a patchwork of jobs that suits your needs. It's a freedom that can't be beat.

Plus, if you're ever displeased with your current assignment, you won't be locked in for the long term. You can always talk with your recruiter or the supervisor to work out the details. If that doesn't help, you can make the best of the situation knowing you're only in it for a short while versus being in a permanent job that’s not a fit for the long haul.

7. Lack of Connection

You may have resisted locum tenens because you don't want to be an outsider. While it's true that at first, you may not feel like part of the permanent crew, you'll soon be accustomed to breaking the ice and jumping in as a valuable part of the team.

Since you won't have the burdens of a permanent position that can lead to burnout, like heavy administrative work, office politics, excessive hours or unremitting patient volumes, you can remain upbeat and positive. You can forge new friendships, expand your network, be more present for patients, and learn from colleagues.

The lack of connection you feared may turn out to be what propels you forward in your career. Plus, outside of work, you'll be able to get to know the community. Imagine the connections you can make in your state or even across the nation.

Start Your Adventure

Embarking on an adventure as a locum tenens provider can be the best career decision you've made. The only thing stopping you may have been one of these potential drawbacks. As you can see, there are solutions for each of these concerns.

Why wait?

Start your locum tenens adventure now.

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