There have been numerous articles written about the benefits of immediately entering locum tenens work after finishing residency. The benefits of doing so include everything from ‘test driving’ different kinds of jobs to earning more money than a hospitalist or group practice partner. But what about locum work while still in residency? Is that a good idea?
Yes, it is, according to MedPage Today contributor Bill Heller. His February 12 (2018) piece went through all the positives of working locum tenens while still in residency, without hurting the value of the residency itself. It is a piece that offers great insight to new doctors both still in residency and preparing to start it in the coming months.
It must be noted that a doctor’s residency comes first. Working locum tenens assignments while in residency must not interfere with the resident’s primary duties. Locum assignments are extra work, not the main focus. With that out of the way, consider the following reasons locum tenens work is a good idea for residents.
Money for Student Loans
A young doctor has a tremendous amount of student debt by the time he or she reaches residency. In light of that, there’s no time like the present to get busy paying that debt down. Locum tenens assignments are great for doing so. The new doctor can earn quite a bit of extra money taking just a few shifts here and there. All that money can go toward paying down student loans.
How important is satisfying student debt? Extremely important. A doctor who does not want to be controlled by a payment book for the first 10 to 20 years of his or her career needs to get the loans off as quickly as possible. Otherwise, burdensome debt can have far too much influence over the doctor’s decisions.
Freedom to Look Around
Locum work is, by definition, temporary work. Locum doctors take temporary assignments that may last from a few weekends to six months or longer. The point is that a resident is not locked into any particular job he or she accepts as a locum. If a doctor is not particularly fond of an assignment, he/she need only fulfill his/her contract and be done with it. The doctor is not forced to return to that job, that facility, or even that particular discipline.
This gives residents tremendous freedom to look around and see what’s out there. Locum tenens makes it possible for them to see and experience things that were never part of medical school. This can go a long way toward helping the new doctor plan a more positive and rewarding career.
Opportunities to Make Connections
Every seasoned doctor knows just how important connections are. They are important to career advancement, accountability, learning, and so forth. The wonderful thing about locum tenens work is that it allows the new doctor to start making those connections long before residency ends. A doctor with the right connections in place will find him/herself facing more opportunities than he/she otherwise would have had.
Along those same lines, making new connections is an opportunity to find new mentors. And in the medical profession, you can never have too many mentors.
Taking locum assignments to fill up the margins of a resident’s schedule is a wise idea for a lot of people. It is not for everyone because it does add demands to the resident’s schedule, but it has a lot of positives for doctors fully capable of embracing it. Some doctors even enjoy locum tenens so much that they make a career of it.