Working locum tenens assignments does not necessarily mean being on the road for months at a time. In fact, there are plenty of locum professionals who keep their assignments close to home. They are clinicians who, for one reason or another, do not travel beyond 50 miles of where they live when taking assignments.
You might be the kind of doctor who loves to travel. That may be why you decided to get into locum work to begin with. But there are other doctors who prefer something different. They have very legitimate reasons for keeping their assignments within driving distance of where they live. Some of those reasons are discussed below.
They Are Only Moonlighting
A good percentage of locums actually have full-time jobs or own private practices. They are using locum work only as a way to earn extra money. Like anyone else who moonlights, the extra shifts they take at local hospitals and clinics are the medical equivalent of part-time work. They do not need to go outside of the local area because there are plenty of short-term assignments right where they live.
Where would a moonlighting doctor work? More often than not, they take evening and weekend shifts at local hospitals. Their locum work supplements a regular hospitalist staff that may have a few open gaps to fill. Beyond the hospital, moonlighting locums might also work in a corporate environment, at a public health clinic, or even filling in for a private practice owner.
They Are Semi-Retired
Another valid reason for keeping locum tenens assignments close to home has to do with retirement. Doctors who are semi-retired are known to take locum assignments just so that they can keep their licenses current and their knowledge fresh. They have no desire for long-term assignments away from home because that just puts them back into the full-time work pool again. Local assignments allow them to enjoy semi-retirement without having to commit to anything more demanding.
They Are Transitioning to Full Retirement
The other side of semi-retirement is using locum tenens work to transition to full retirement. This is a formula that works well for private practice owners. For example, a doctor may be preparing to turn his or her practice over to a partner he/she brought on board a couple of years ago. During the transition, the retiring doctor works a few days in the office and a few days filling locum assignments. The closer he/she gets to retirement, the less time he/she devotes to both.
Keeping locum assignments close to home in this case makes it possible for the transitioning doctor to still keep an eye on the practice during the transition. The doctor can be there to answer any questions practice staff may have during the term.
They Are Trying to Pay off Student Loans
Locum tenens work has become a very popular tool for paying off student loans as quickly as possible. New doctors just out of residency land full-time work at one facility, then take extra shifts to bring in that extra income. Keeping assignments close to home enables them to pay off the loans more quickly without interfering with their full-time jobs. This strategy actually works very well given the amount of money locums earn.
There is an old adage that says it takes all kinds of people to make the world work. That’s true. It’s easily seen in the locum tenens world. Some people like to travel from coast-to-coast as they work their locum assignments; others like to keep their assignments close to home. There are very valid reasons for both.