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The Locums Toolkit: Five Things You Need for Success as A Locums

The Locums Toolkit: Five Things You Need for Success as A Locums

Working as a locums physician is fun and exciting. It offers freedom by allowing you to control your own schedule. It also gives you the opportunity to work for an increased amount of money and to work in fun and exciting locations. However, in order for you to have success working as a locums physician, you need to have one main tool: FOCUS!

FOCUS stands for Flexibility, Organization, Clarity, Understanding, and Support.

Flexibility is a main component of success in doing locums. Although working as a locums physician gives you control over your own schedule, you need to be flexible in your availability to work. The more flexible you are in your availability, the more willing you are to work nights, weekends, holidays and on short notice, the more work you will have as a locums physician.

In addition to flexibility in scheduling, you need to be flexible in terms of the locations you can work as well.  Willingness to work out of town and out of state provides more locums opportunities. Many locums jobs are in “less than desirable” locations. Being willing to work in these locations will insure that you will have steady work as a locums physician.

The second tool in your locums toolkit is organization. To have success as a locums physician, you need to be organized. Because you will be working in several different organizations, have a varying schedule, and may have to travel, organization is a must.

Being organized will help tremendously with the licensing and credentialing process. There are specific documents that you must submit to the locums company to begin this process. I recommend that you locate these documents and keep them in a place that can be easily accessed.  Because you must obtain a medical license for every state in which you work and you must obtain privileges for each hospital in which you work, the licensing and credentialing aspect can be very time consuming.

That is why it is imperative that you work with a locums agency like Floyd Lee Locums. Floyd Lee Locums not only has a department dedicated to licensing and credentialing, their licensing and credentialing experts take a personal interest in every application and make it their priority to expedite the process.

Furthermore, because your schedule may vary and you may have to travel, a good scheduling system is imperative to help you stay organized as a locums physician. I utilize a good old fashioned paper calendar that I carry with me everywhere. And I enter the information in pencil, so I can easily erase the entries. Locums work is plentiful, but things change quickly. I need easy access to my calendar and I need to be able to make changes. For those of you who are more high tech, an online calendar and the calendar in your smart phone are also good options. The key is to keep up with your work assignments and your travel arrangements.

Another component of a successful locums career is clarity. In fact, I think this is the most important component. Before you start working as a locums physicians, ask yourself these questions:

Why are you doing locums?
What do you hope to gain as a result?
How long do you want to work as a locums physician?
Do you plan on obtaining permanent employment again? If so, when?
Are you willing to travel? If so, where?
What schedule are you willing to work?
How much do you want to be paid?

You must answer each of these questions when you decide to work as a locums physician. Having clarity on these issues gives you focus in terms of what you want and helps you find the locums job that is right for you.

Another essential item for success as a locums is having a good understanding of what locums is and how locums works. The first thing you must understand is the nature of locums work. Locum tenens is Latin for “place holder” and that is exactly what you are. You are a temporary physician who is filling a need until a permanent physician can be found. Another way to look at being a locums physician is to think of it as being a “freelance” physician.

As a locums physician, you are not an employee, but an independent contractor. Thus, you are not entitled to any employer-provided benefits, nor are employment taxes withheld from your paycheck. You must understand what this means in terms of your tax liability and in terms of health insurance, retirement savings, disability insurance, etc.

Furthermore, you need to understand the locums process. Everything from finding an assignment, getting licensed and credentialed, working the assignment, getting paid for the assignment is a process. The experts at Floyd Lee Locums will walk you through the locums process from start to finish and will make every effort to ensure that the locums process goes as smoothly as possible.

The fifth tool in your locums tool kit is support. Support is vital to your success as a locums physician. You need the support and understanding of your family and friends. They need to understand why you are working as a locum and to support your efforts. In addition to that, you need to work with a locums company, like Floyd Lee Locums, that truly understands the needs of their physicians and will provide the support you need.

Not only do you need personal support, you need professional support as well. You need a team of advisors to help you deal with the legal, financial, and tax implications that come with doing locums work. You need an attorney, a certified public accountant, and a financial planner, and each of these professionals should have experience working with locums physicians. Floyd Lee Locums stands out in the locums industry because it is the only locums company that has a dedicated team of legal, tax, and financial experts available to help physicians address these issues.

Having FOCUS is the vital component of success as a locums physician. Flexibility, organization, clarity, understanding, and support are the five essential tools that ensure your locums career will be successful and fulfilling.

Contributed by: Dr. Stephanie E. Freeman


Stephanie E. Freeman, MD, earned her Medical Degree from the University of Alabama School of Medicine. She completed her Internal Medicine Residency at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and her Critical Care Fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Freeman also completed a Geriatrics fellowship at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. She obtained her Masters of Business Administration at Auburn University.

Learn more at DrStephanieICU.com