Fill-in physicians can find flexibility and financial benefits while developing their careers.
The profession of medicine can be demanding, with a significant prevalence of burnout among physicians. Recent studies have shown that more than one-third of physicians report being somewhat or very unhappy at work. While the reasons for burnout are complex and varied, it's clear that the current system isn't doing enough to solve the problem.
One solution that has gained traction is locum tenens work — a form of temporary staffing in which physicians fill in for absent colleagues. This form of work offers a flexible and sustainable way to address physician burnout and alleviates the burden on the health care system. There is a great need for it too — 85% of health care organizations reported a need for locums in the last year. If you feel burnt out from your current career and are seeking a change, locum tenens work offers various benefits that can alleviate the stressors of your profession.
As a physician, feeling burnt out is not uncommon. You may have considered various options to alleviate burnout and improve your work-life balance, such as a sabbatical. Locum tenens work is a great option to gain flexibility and earn income at the same time, especially if you're experiencing burnout. When you work locum tenens, you pick when, where, and how long you work, which means you have the power to create a schedule that works for you. This is especially helpful if you are looking to improve your work-life balance as it gives you the ability to take time off when you need it without any long-term consequences.
By selecting the number of shifts you want to work, locum tenens is an option that allows physicians to have more control over their time and finances. This can be especially helpful for physicians looking to pay off student loans or save for retirement.While there are other ways to manage finances, like working in a hospital-owned practice — which can offer higher salaries compared to private practices — or opting for nonclinical roles such as medical consulting, locum tenens work can also be a great option for financial benefits. Self-employed physicians, including locum tenens physicians, earn 20% more than employed physicians. Additionally, locum work allows taking on multiple assignments simultaneously, which can increase earning potential and provide experience in diverse practice settings, which can benefit career development and long-term earning potential.
Feeling unfulfilled or stuck in your career can also contribute to burnout. Locum tenens work is a great option to shake things up and gain new experiences. As a locum physician, you'll have the opportunity to work in different places, specialties, and facilities, allowing you to gain diverse experience and explore new opportunities.
Exploring other career options, such as advanced degrees, fellowships, or nonclinical roles like teaching, can be a great way to develop your career. Locum tenens work, however, provides the opportunity to gain valuable experiences, build relationships and explore different career paths. By working in new clinical settings, you can expand your professional network and connect with a wide variety of physicians, health care professionals, and patients. Furthermore, you may have the opportunity to work with and learn from other health care professionals, who can serve as mentors and partners while providing guidance and support as during your career. This can also help you to find fulfillment in your career and explore different paths, such as academia, research, or administration, without committing to a long-term job or location.
Reducing administrative burdens can be achieved through locum tenens work, which can reduce paperwork, insurance requirements, and scheduling conflicts. A recent poll found that 46% of physicians believe this is the best way to reduce burnout. As a locum physician, you won't handle the day-to-day operations of a practice, resulting in less administrative tasks.
While working in a hospital-owned practice or in a hospital setting may provide resources and support staff to handle administrative tasks, it is not the only solution for reducing administrative burdens. Locum tenens work offers a unique opportunity for physicians to alleviate the administrative burdens that come with permanent practice. By taking on temporary assignments, physicians can take a step back from the day-to-day operations of running a practice, meaning less paperwork, insurance requirements, and scheduling issues.This can not only improve your overall job satisfaction but also help you to provide better care for your patients.
A study published in JAMA Network Open found that burnout among physicians is often a local phenomenon, linked to work settings and the social contagion of exhaustion. Locum tenens work offers the perfect solution by allowing you to gain a diverse range of experience and broaden your skillset, while also providing an opportunity to travel and work in different locations. This can help alleviate feelings of boredom and dissatisfaction that may come with a monotonous, low-travel lifestyle.
As previously mentioned, sabbaticals do have their perks and can allow you to travel on your own time. However, locum tenens work is the perfect solution for physicians who want to travel and earn at the same time. You get to pick where you work, whether it's in your backyard or across the country, which allows you to explore new places and cultures while also getting a change of pace from your daily routine. And many assignments cover travel and accommodation expenses, so it's a great way to see new places while combatting burnout.
If you're experiencing burnout symptoms, it's important to take a moment to reflect on the sources of stress in your life. If you're feeling the effects of burnout in your current career, locum tenens work may be a viable solution to consider. It allows you to work in various locations, specialties, and settings, which can provide a diverse range of experiences and an opportunity to expand your skills. Additionally, locum tenens work offers flexibility to reduce administrative responsibilities, increase patient care time, and explore different career paths. Many assignments even cover travel expenses, providing you with the chance to discover new places and unique experiences. Overall, locum tenens work can be a valuable tool in revitalizing your career and overcoming burnout.
Sophia Morris is executive vice president of the client fulfillment and strategy teams for Aya Locums. She has 17 years of health care staffing experience, with an extensive background in recruitment and account management across all areas of the business, including locum tenens, nursing and allied, nonclinical, education and therapy, and per diem staffing.