The Low Down on Locum Tenens

What is Locum Tenens?

Locum tenens is a Latin phrase that means “to hold the place of.” In modern healthcare, locum tenens refers to the practice of using one physician on a temporary or interim basis in place of another.

Locum tenens is commonly used:

  • To fill in for vacations, maternity and other leaves of absence.
  • To provide coverage for a physician who is obtaining advanced training.
  • To supplement practitioner staff levels during peak seasons.
  • To staff rural facilities and other locations where full-time physicians may be hard to recruit.
  • To ensure mandated coverage based on patient census.
  • To relieve the workload (and stress) on physicians to reduce burnout (and turnover).

Why Locum Tenens?

In a word, coverage. In three words, cost-effective coverage.

Locum tenens is an ideal way to ensure continuity of care and prevent lost revenue while a permanent physician is out of the office or a position is being filled. On average, it can take up to eight months to locate a permanent provider. Using locum tenens will allow facilities to continue seeing patients while maintaining the highest standard of care and as a result, maintain a positive referral network for new patients. 

In the wake of practitioner shortages, locum tenens is playing an increasingly important role in care delivery. It also helps balance workloads, mitigate stress on permanent physicians and reduce provider burnout.

Who uses locums?

Any facility that employs physicians, CRNAs, PAs or NPs. This can include hospitals, outpatient medical centers, government and military facilities, group practices, community health centers and correctional facilities.

Why do physicians choose locums?

In a study of 500 physicians who work locums, 48% said that a flexible work schedule was their number one reason for choosing locum tenens. Other reasons included travel opportunities (38%), earning extra income (35%) and clinical experience (34%).

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