Every job has its ups and downs, right? So don’t believe all those locum tenens posts that portray the locum lifestyle as all sunshine and roses. Even locums have their bad days. The best in the business possess a key character trait that gets them through those bad days: perseverance.
Do not let the word ‘perseverance’ throw you. Just because locums need perseverance does not mean what they do is a largely negative experience. Quite to the contrary, locum tenens is considered a positive experience among many doctors who choose it as a career. It is just that success requires perseverance, as it does with any endeavor worth pursuing.
Assignments Aren’t Always Great
Imagine entering the locum tenens industry expecting that every assignment will be perfect, only to find out that some are downright lousy. That is reality. It’s great for a doctor to be very choosy about his/her assignments, but wise doctors know that assignments aren’t always that great.
It takes perseverance to get through those bad assignments. It takes perseverance to keep looking forward until better assignments show up. A doctor who throws up his/her hands and quits after one or two lousy assignments probably doesn’t have what it takes to be a long-term locum.
Travel Can Be Tedious
One of the things locums frequently cite as a benefit of their chosen career is the ability to mix work with travel. But even those doctors who are passionate about travel can find it tedious at times. For example, living out of a suitcase gets old at the tail-end of a string of short-term assignments. Even locums find it nice to stay in the same location for six months or longer.
You need perseverance when your car breaks down hundreds of miles from your destination. You need perseverance when you are stuck in an airport after your flight has been delayed by bad weather. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.
Employers Can Be Difficult
The stress that locums do experience is often the result of working for difficult employers. For whatever reason, some employers have a tendency to treat their locum contractors differently than they treat their own doctors. This can create uncomfortable situations that require perseverance to work through.
The good news in this regard is that a physician doesn’t have to continue working for a difficult client. He or she can finish out the current contract and then choose to never sign on to work for that facility again. This freedom makes it easier for locums to manage their relationships with difficult employers. Still though, perseverance is sometimes required under especially difficult circumstances.
Self-Employment Has Its Issues
Locum tenens physicians are self-employed contractors who either find work independently or partner with staffing agencies. But either way, there are self-employment issues that have to be dealt with. At the top of the list is financial management.
For example, locums are responsible for paying their own taxes. To that end, they must file quarterly estimated taxes to keep Washington happy. They must report every penny of income, track all their expenses, and so forth. It is all part of being self-employed.
The locum lifestyle can be very attractive to doctors who don’t like the idea of running a private practice or working as an employee. It is a form of medicine that is highly rewarding in its own ways. But make no mistake about it: locum tenens practice is not perfect. There are days when it rains, so to speak. Being successful as a locum requires a bit of perseverance on those rainy days.