How Locum Tenens Work Can Help You Manage Your Medical School Debt
You have your degree, completed residency, and just obtained your license to practice medicine. At the same time, loan deferment ends, and you are probably also the poorest you have ever been. Instead of becoming wealthy overnight, you find yourself mired in medical school debt just as you enter the workforce. Fortunately, locum tenens provides an excellent opportunity for doctors to manage their medical school debt.
1. Locum tenens helps you earn right away
The elation of finishing residency or fellowship means you have finally reached your goal; however, it is sobering when monthly payments are due. With hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, many physicians do not have the luxury of taking time off after residency/fellowship to find their perfect permanent position. If you haven’t found a permanent position by the end of training, locum tenens is an excellent way to make money immediately. You can use this time to interview for full-time positions while being employed and meeting your monthly medical school loan payments. For even greater earning potential, tell your locums agency that you are willing to take a position in an under-served area that offers higher pay rates to attract physicians.
2. Locum tenens also covers non-salary costs
Medical school loans aren’t the only costs you will face. Locum tenens agencies or their clients (the healthcare facilities they partner with) usually provide travel and housing for locums positions. Even if you would earn the same amount in a locums gig as you would in a permanent position, the housing stipend in particular can potentially help you apply more of your earnings to paying down medical school debt and meeting your short-term financial goals.
3. Locum tenens can bridge the gap to a permanent position
While the job market for physicians is perennially good, picking the right job and practice setting is not always easy. Where do you want to live? Do you think you are a hospitalist or a private practice provider? What patient populations interest you—do you want to practice in an urban medical center or settle into a suburban or regional hospital? Many graduates haven’t figured this out by the time they are ready to practice independently. Locum tenens offers doctors a way to “test drive” several practice settings while earning money. You can determine what setting is right for you by personally experiencing several different locum opportunities (and while making loan payments).
4. Locum tenens can supplement permanent work
Newly-licensed doctors have something that some older physicians may have lost with time—the drive to work hard to make more money. Recent trainees are used to working long hours without great pay. With independence, long work hours can mean excellent pay. If you have moved into a permanent position, your contract may allow you to “moonlight” or work locum tenens while you are also working as a salaried physician. Of course, you will need to find a locums opportunity near your primary position, but the number of locum opportunities makes this a good possibility. A few years of this arrangement can help you rapidly pay down medical school debt. If in time you find yourself burning out, you have the flexibility of cutting back or stopping locums work. Alternatively, if you find locum tenens offers the excitement and variety you are missing in your permanent position, you may want to move to full-time locums work for a period.
If you are finishing residency or fellowship training and want to learn more about how locum tenens can help you start earning money right away, contact the experienced recruiters at NEXTLocums today.