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Career Coach

Is Locum Tenans Work for You?

Published October 2, 2013 4:19 PM by Renee Dahring

I have been considering pursuing locum tenens work for a year or so. I want to know your opinion of the option of becoming a career locum tenens provider. How is that perceived in the community? How does that affect one's career in the long term? Is it better for me to settle down in a more permanent position?   

Dear Job Seeker: 

"Locum tenens" is a Latin phrase which means "to hold the place of, or to substitute for" and these positions have been around a long time. You may also hear these jobs referred to as "temporary" or "travel" positions.  

There are many reasons that a practice might seek a Locum tenens provider. It could be that one of their permanent staff is on an extended leave or absence. It may also be due to a temporary increase in patient volume or the launch of a new program.

Sometimes, organizations are under a hiring freeze and so they cannot afford additional permanent staff but do have the ability to bring in a locum provider. The last few years we have seen an increase in temporary positions due to the uncertainty of the healthcare market. Although, if I think back over all the years I have been in this business, it seems that the demand for locum clinicians tends to be strong in almost every type of economy. 

It takes a certain type of person to do a locum assignment and not everyone is cut out for this type of work. Fortunately for you, and others like you who do temporary work, this is good news because employers tend to like the characteristics that make you a good locum candidate.

They understand that to be successful as a locum provider you must be very flexible and adaptable, as well as independent. They also recognize that because you will have worked in several different types of practices and locations that you will have a wider scope of experiences. Basically, you end up to be very well-rounded, which employers find impressive. As a recruiter I was thrilled to hire a "serial locum" provider because I knew that they would be a clinician with solid skills and confidence.

I speak from not only recruiting experience but also personal experience. I have been a professional locum tenens clinician from the beginning of my NP career (and I still am!). Some of my assignments have been quite lengthy, renewing repeatedly for year after year while others have been very short term.

Almost every clinic to which I have been assigned has offered me a permanent position - many locums do eventually hire on permanently at the end of an assignment - so lack of permanent employment opportunities has never been a concern.




Recently I saw a posting for locum for a rural clinic, and they added that they welcomed new grads.  I have spent all of about 1 year (out of 16) as an agency/registry RN and find it hard to fathom that a new grad would be a good fit for this position. I called them but the recruiter could not come up with an answer.

Sue, FNP-s November 17, 2013 3:58 PM

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About this Blog

    Occupation: Nurse Practitioners and NP Recruiters
    Setting: correctional healthcare/career consulting/teaching
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