Over the years, writers have written plenty of articles talking about transitioning from private practice or long-term employment to locum tenens work. This is not surprising given the number of older physicians who use locum tenens work to either supplement their income or transition to retirement. But what about moving in the other direction? What about transitioning from locum work to permanent employment?
Believe it or not, there are doctors who approach their careers this way. They start out as locums in order to get a good feel of what’s out there. They use their time as locum physicians to find out exactly how they want to practice, where they want to practice, and the kind of schedule they want to keep as an employed physician.
The challenge comes in when trying to make the actual transition. Depending on how long a doctor has been working as a locum, making the transition from ‘hired gun’ to loyal employee can be difficult.
Locum to Permanent Positions
A good way to begin the transition from locum work to permanent employment is to ask staffing agency representatives to look for assignments advertised as a ‘temp to perm’. Though these kinds of assignments are not the norm, they are still common and rather plentiful. There is no shortage of medical facilities that use locum tenens contracts as a quasi-recruiting tool to find those doctors who will eventually be hired as permanent employees.
When employing this strategy, use every assignment as an extended job interview. Get to know people in decision-making positions. Develop relationships with your coworkers. Make a concerted effort to show yourself in the best possible light so that, by the time the assignment comes to an end, you are seen as indispensable. You will then have an advantage should you be asked to interview for a permanent position.
Give Thought to Pay and Benefits
Locum tenens physicians tend to make more than their employed counterparts when you combine salary, housing, paid malpractice insurance, paid travel, and any other benefits staffing agencies offer their locums. Taking a permanent placement position may mean less total compensation.
The point of mentioning this is to say that locum physicians hoping to transition to permanent employment need to take some time to think about the pay and benefits they believe are appropriate to their profession. They also need to be realistic about their expectations. The best paying jobs may not be available at the start.
Reasons for Making the Switch
Another area of challenge manifests itself in the actual reasons a doctor has for making the switch. For example, one of the big things that prompts locums to search for permanent placement work is travel fatigue. A doctor may spend a few years on the road working as a locum only to reach a point in life where he or she just wants to be in the same place for a while.
There are no right or wrong reasons for moving from locum work to permanent employment. But as with pay and benefits, doctors looking to make the switch need to manage their expectations. Life may seem greener on the other side of the fence, but there are never any such guarantees.
Just as there are doctors who spend years in private practice or employment before transitioning to locum work, there are also locum tenens physicians who eventually make the jump to permanent employment. It’s all good. No matter which direction you are moving in, just be sure to plan well, manage your expectations, and think things through before you make any decisions.