From August 14-18, the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO) is hosting its first-ever National Locum Tenens Week to recognize the 40,000 physicians who work locum tenens each year and play a vital role in delivering quality care to communities across the country.
What is locum tenens?
In Latin, locum tenens means “to take the place of someone temporarily.” In healthcare, the term refers to medical providers who work temporary assignments.
Through our trusted brands — CompHealth, Weatherby Healthcare, RNnetwork, Foundation Medical Staffing, and Global Medical Staffing — we provide temporary and permanent placement of physicians, allied health professionals, and nurses to healthcare facilities across the country and abroad. Just last year, our companies placed 12,000 healthcare providers who served 25 million patients.
Benefits of working locum tenens
From great compensation and flexible schedules to a remedy for burnout and the chance to help underserved patients, locum tenens offers healthcare providers an array of benefits.
Here are just a few of the reasons our physicians love locum tenens.
Dr. Larry Daugherty
Dr. Larry Daugherty wanted to be a physician because it gave him the opportunity to help people. Wanting a deeper connection to his patients, he decided to pursue a career in radiation oncology and opened a cancer center in Anchorage, Alaska.
“I really felt like the interactions and the connections that doctors have with their patients are much different in oncology than they are in other areas of medicine,” Daugherty says. “When I did a rotation in my third year, a patient came into a radiation oncology clinic for their five-year anniversary of being cancer free, and the doctor had actually made the patient a cake and the whole office celebrated. There was just something about that experience that spoke to me and that showed me that doctors in oncology are very deeply connected with their patients in a personal way.”
Because he’s the only radiation oncologist in the area, he has to plan ahead when he takes time off. That means hiring locum tenens physicians to fill in while he’s gone.
“When I do something awesome outside of work, I feel like I come back to work an even better doctor, dad, and husband,” Daugherty says. “I was scared coming up to a practice all by myself without any partners, but it hasn’t been a problem at all. I do need to plan a little bit more ahead of time, but I’m able to take vacations confidently and comfortably knowing I’m leaving my practice in good hands when I do leave.”
Find out how Dr. Daugherty can focus on his nonprofit, Radiating Hope, with help from locum tenens doctors.
Dr. Tina Passalaris
Dr. Tina Passalaris’ life as a full-time oncologist left her feeling like a visitor in her own home.
“I was absent from my kids’ lives. I didn’t go to school plays, and it was uncanny how often I would be on call during the most important nights,” she recalls. “I was late to absolutely everything, an unreliable member of the family. There’s only so much of that your family can take.”
To remedy the problem, she quit her full-time job and used locum tenens assignments to balance practicing medicine with being a full-time participant in her children’s’ lives.
“Although I’m absent 100 percent when I’m on an assignment, when I am home, I’m 100 percent home,” Passalaris says. “I participate in every aspect of my children’s lives, even if it’s as mundane as driving them to school. I would never get that when I worked full time.”
Hear more about the ways locum tenens has given Dr. Passalaris more time with her family.
Dr. John Gray
From a young age, Dr. John Gray knew he wanted a career where he could make a difference in people’s lives. Working in medicine gives him the opportunity to provide care to patients in underserved areas.
“The reason I choose to serve underserved areas is because that’s what I grew up with,” he shares.
After closing his private practice, he decided to try locum tenens to continue providing quality patient care. One of his assignments was for the state of Ohio as a prison physician.
“The response of the prisoners has been surprising to me,” he says. “They have been very courteous and grateful and have voiced numerous times that I genuinely care about them.”
Learn why Dr. Gray is so passionate about serving underserved areas.
Dr. Tammy Allen
When Dr. Tammy Allen was finishing her medical school residency, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do next. Her friends were all set with long-term jobs, but that didn’t feel right for her. Instead, she decided to give locum tenens a try.
“When I started out as a locum everyone asked why I was doing locums. I told them, ‘Because I really don’t know what I want to do,’” she recalls. “Now they ask why are you doing locums and I say, ‘Because I know exactly what I want to do.’”
11 years later, Dr. Allen is still working locum tenens full time and loves the flexibility it gives her to both practice medicine and still do the things she loves most — traveling and volunteering.
“I have colleagues who want to do volunteer work but they literally don’t have the time because they work every day. Because I work a week and I’m off a week, there’s time for me to get in some of those volunteer activities that I love to do,” Allen says.
Learn more about how working locum tenens allows Dr. Allen to give back to the community.
If you work with a locum tenens physician, make sure to thank them next week — or, better yet, any time throughout the year.