Locum tenens a way for physicians to ease on out of medicine

Doc time

Many physicians who are coming to the end of the end of their careers are keeping their hand in medicine by doing locum tenens work.

Despite the fact that younger physicians are moving into temporary work, physicians ages 50 and older still make up more than half of the locum tenens workforce, writes Melissa Byington, in Diagnostic Imaging.

For one reason, locum tenens allows a doctor to ease into full retirement, says Byington, president of the locum tenens division of CompHealth, a healthcare staffing company. Locum tenens work also gives doctors flexibility in their schedules. When CompHealth recently surveyed 1,000 physicians about what appeals to them about locum tenens work, scheduling flexibility was at the top of the list, Byington says. For doctors who want to still practice medicine but want to stop full-time, they can pick their hours and perhaps work a few weeks each month or a few months a year.

“After years of managing staff, working with insurance payers and dealing with the headaches associated with running a private practice, the chance to solely focus on practicing medicine as a locum tenens can be incredibly refreshing,” she says.

And doctors can spend more time with family, for instance, taking an assignment in an area where children or grandchildren have moved, she says. Or they may want to take an assignment in an area of the country they want to explore.

The locum tenens industry is growing as impending physician shortages and other changes in healthcare are increasing the use of temporary physicians.