Why Every Physician Should Consider Locums

Of the career options physicians have after graduating from residency, locums is usually not among them. The perception of locums docs is that they are crappy and can’t hold a stable job anywhere. That may have been true in the past but is definitely not true today. More and more physicians are choosing locums straight out of residency. Here are 5 reasons every physician should consider working locums in some capacity:

  1. Flexibility
    You are not obligated to work set hours every month. Whereas as an employee or partner you work a set number of hours every month, as a locum, your schedule is essentially in your hands. You choose how little or how much you want to work. Really? Yes, really. I stayed with my parents in California for 4 months last winter to escape the polar vortex. I flew East for a week during those months to work my shifts and spent the rest of my time in warm Northern California. Most hospitals will work with you as a locum to accommodate your schedule since they are usually quite desperate for coverage. You choose if you want to work nights or no nights and can choose to work more or less (or not at all) in any given month. This, to me, is the single greatest advantage of locums.
  2. Be A Free-Agent
    As an employee, you are pretty much locked into your job. When you go rogue (locums), you get to shop around for the best rate for yourself. You can call multiple agencies and name a rate and ask them to find you a gig that pays accordingly. Even if a job rate for a particular site isn’t in your desired range, you can always ask to be presented at your desired higher rate. After interviewing at several hospitals for a full-time position during my third year of residency, it was only after I started working locums that I realized how much more I am worth as a free agent (locums). Most employed physicians do not know their value as well seasoned locums physicians do.
  3. Tax Benefits
    As a locum, you have your choice to set up an LLC, S-corp, or Sole Proprietor. Whichever one you choose, as a 1099 independent contractor, you have the ability to deduct expenses such as a vehicle, home office, cell phone, etc. I will discuss this in more detail in a subsequent post.
  4. Try Different Practice Environments
    Locums is a great way to try different work environments. I never thought I would find myself working in a rural ED, but I absolutely love it! Having worked at trauma centers, one of the busiest EDs in the country, etc, a rural ED was refreshing and the change in pace is quite welcome. You can work in different practice environments and figure out which setting works best for you. Or you can choose a combination of settings like I did.
  5. Travel
    This can be viewed as a positive or negative. As a locum, you will often need to travel to different parts of the state/country that you probably would never go to otherwise. I picked up a gig in a rural town in Pennsylvania, 4 hours from any large city. There was no way on earth I would consider going there otherwise, but I absolutely love it and I get to learn about the culture and people of a rural town.

    woman with baby at the peak of a mountain
    Photo by Josh Willink on

These are just some of the benefits of locums. Feel free to add comments below.


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