Can Locum Tenens Be a Full-Time Career?

There are many different ways for a physician to build their career. You can open a private practice, join a clinic group, or work in a hospital. You can focus on general medicine or become a specialist. You can stay in one place for many years or you can become a traveling medical professional. One of the universal options for modern physicians is locum tenens work, or "placeholder"  in Latin, where you step in for other doctors when they are unable or unavailable.

Most doctors see locum tenens as a way to catch a few extra shifts or work between jobs, but you can also build a full-time career from locum tenens work - and it can be very rewarding. Working locum tenens full time isn't for everyone, but for those who want to take their career into their own hands and control their own schedule, earn more money, and travel to new places, nothing could be better than a locums career.

Can Locum Tenens Provide a Full-Time Schedule?

Yes, you can absolutely build a full-time schedule from locum tenens work, and not necessarily from piecemeal shifts. There are not just pickup hours needed, but entire interim roles available. You can build a full-time schedule from an interesting mix of part-time and on-demand roles or take a single interim role for months at a stretch.

Full-Time Locum Tenens Positions

When a permanent physician is sick, on extended leave, or has left and not been replaced, medical facilities may need a locum physician to take their place. This role may last months or even beyond a year of steady full-time work at an increased locum tenens rate of pay.

Building a Full-Time Schedule of Locum Tenens Shifts

If you want excitement and new experiences, of course, you can always build a full-time schedule of locum shifts from those on-demand calls needed in your city.  Working with your consultant, you can likely build a routine of regular places that need temporary physician support along with a few more interesting one-time pickup jobs to round out your experience.

Career Benefits to Full-Time Locum Tenens

Why build a full-time career with locum tenens? There are more than a few reasons why this might be a rewarding career choice for you.

Making More with Every Hour

Locum tenens physicians are paid a significantly higher wage for the hours they work because they are stepping in on demand. While wages are often decided by tradition and industry-standard, locum tenens physicians are paid what the market demands for on-call medical services. You may receive, on average, around $30 more per hour than salaried physicians in the same facilities.

Helping Where It Counts

You can also feel great about the time you spend taking roles as a locum tenens physician. You are easing an already critical strain on the healthcare system by filling a physician role where it is needed most. Hospitals and clinics that are already short-staffed will be able to help more patients and reduce the risk of staff burnout with just one extra doctor on-hand. This means you're not just healing people, you're also helping medical teams across your local area.

Diversifying Your Medical Experience

Many physicians benefit from a wide range of medical experiences, in treating different conditions, working in different conditions, and getting hands-on time working with a wide range of patients. When it comes time to build the next step in your medical career, you will be far better equipped for whatever curveballs are thrown and confident in dealing with less than familiar conditions in the future.

Don't Sweat the Big Hiring Process

Finally, locum tenens takes the pressure off of getting hired for your next major role. Whether you are coming out of residency or making a current medical career change, locum tenens work can start right away, pays great, and can become your full-time role until you find and complete the lengthy hiring process for your next ideal permanent position - that is if you don't decide to continue working full-time locum tenens because you enjoy the new routine and compensation rate.

How to Go Full-Time Working Locum Tenens

How can you take your medical career to full-time locum tenens work? It's easier than you think.

Build a Schedule With Your Consultant

Start by connecting with a locum tenens consultant who will become your personal reference for locum tenens roles. Let them know what kind of schedule you want to build, what work you're best at, and that you'd like to build a full-time plan. Your consultant will then source the right selection of roles for you to choose from as you build your upcoming full-time schedule for the next few months.

Establish Long-Term and Repeat Engagements

Full-time locum tenens is often most enjoyable when you establish a long-term or repeat set of engagements. Long-term engagements may be full or part-time interim roles where your help is needed steadily over a long time. Repeat engagements might be, for example, stepping in every Wednesday at the children's clinic on toddler vaccination day.

Take Control of Your Off-Time

Finally, let your consultant know when you want off-time. The great thing about full-time locum tenens work is that you are building your own schedule. You decide when your weekends, vacations, and shifts will be based on which roles you accept. This can create more time for family, a better work-life balance, and more control over long-term off-time plans.


Are you considering a medical career change? Explore open jobs and opportunities for locum tenens positions or contact us to begin working with a locum tenens consultant and build your personal working schedule.