Locums Physician July 11, 2023

The 7 Types of Locum Professionals: Which One Are You?

Almost a decade ago, one of our earliest articles at the Locums Link Blog offered a peek into what motivates different kinds of doctors to pursue locum tenens career opportunities—all the different aspects of the #LocumsLifestyle

Since then, the prevalence of Locum Tenens workers within the healthcare industry has changed considerably. Today, 94% of healthcare employers report using locum tenens workers, as opposed to 74% just five years ago. 

Perceptions of locum workers are changing, too. “At one time, Locums Tenens physicians were viewed as second-rate doctors who could not hold a permanent position,” reports the Nevada Daily Mail. “Today, such positions are becoming coveted, attracting high-quality physicians.”

As employers’ need for locum tenens doctors, dentists, and clinicians grows, so too do career opportunities for the healthcare professionals who choose to work these increasingly lucrative positions. What type of locums job you prefer — traveling, moonlighting, sunset-seeking, and all the rest — may go far in determining just what type of locum tenens professional you are.

The 7 Types Of Locum Professionals

1. The Traveler. Locums work is becoming the career of choice for travel-minded doctors, dentists, NPs, PAs, and other clinicians. Looking to spend the winter on the West Coast and the summer on the East — or vice versa? From Maine to California, Texas to Minnesota, Florida to Washington, locum tenens professionals are needed in every state. And when you work a locums job with AMN Healthcare, we not only take care of the state licensing process on your behalf, we also cover your travel and housing costs, too.

2. The Moonlighter. As we’ve noted before at the Locums Link Blog, locum tenens work is becoming a favorite option for moonlighting physicians looking to make some additional income. (It's often an effective way to pay down medical school debt, among other financial benefits.) “These are physicians using locums to earn extra income during off-hours or extended vacation time or are using their downtime to try new practice styles and locations,” as our original article put it.

3. The Alternative Seeker. Some doctors and clinicians choose locums work as a way to escape “the myriad challenges and frustrations presented by traditional medical practice.” Bureaucratic headaches, reimbursement hassles, malpractice concerns, stress, MACRA — the list of challenges presented by independent practice are legion (and known to be actively contributing to an increasing rate of physician retirement planning, too). Locums work offers an alternative that’s looking increasingly attractive to work/life-balance-minded professionals.

4. The Test Driver. At AMN Healthcare, we take pride in offering residents, fellows, and new physicians an ever-updated flow of insider career information. As members of our New Physicians program know, one of the prime benefits that locums work offers new doctors (or clinicians) is the chance to work short-term assignments in a variety of settings before committing to a permanent career decision. If you’re curious about different types of practice settings, or simply unsure of what type of employment you want in the long term, locums work offers a great way to sample a variety of styles before making your final decision.

5. The Sunset Seeker. These are highly experienced physicians (and, increasingly, dentists, NPs, and PAs) who choose to “cap their careers” with locums work. By working locum tenens, you can still see patients and earn income, but on a more flexible, even part-time schedule. “Some of these physicians may have previously retired, but, given the sluggish economy, have returned to work via locum tenens,” our original article notes. Read more about how locums work as a pre-retirement option.

6. The Transitional. Sometimes locums work is most convenient for those physicians and clinicians who are between longer-term commitments. This can include residents looking to build experience (and travel) before accepting a permanent role. It may also include mid-career physicians and practitioners who want to make a career change. In any scenario, working shorter-term locum jobs is a great way to maintain skills and income while figuring out your next step.

7. The Country Doctor. Locum tenens work is generating an entirely new breed of a country doctor. At AMN Healthcare, we’ve always celebrated rural medicine — take, for instance, our Country Doctor of the Year Award, which we began way back in 1991. And, while traditional country doctors are certainly still active, rural facilities are experiencing a greater need than ever for locum tenens doctors and clinicians. For health professionals yearning to make a difference in a local community, Locums' work in rural facilities is a great way to provide help where it’s needed most. 

Of course, your interest in locum tenens work may fall into more than one of these categories or none at all. Perhaps you simply enjoy the flexibility and convenience of the Locums Lifestyle. Either way, you can be sure you’ll always find the best locum tenens assignment (and the greatest locums recruiters in the business) with AMN Healthcare.

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