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Locum Tenens: 9 Mistakes You Must Avoid

A locum tenens position is an attractive prospect for any physician, regardless of where they are in their careers. However, while most cases tend to be trouble-free, there are instances where the experience leaves a lot to be desired and leads to a lot more stress than being employed in a permanent position.

Insufficient coverage and massive costs for the healthcare facilities tend to be an issue, too. To keep this from happening, we’ve listed down some of the most common mistakes that new locum practitioners should avoid in order to get the most out of their experience.

This opportunity can be one where you can really see how the locum industry works and how things actually work in the field. Preparation is the most important thing for all and always remind yourself of that.

1. Selecting a locum tenens company without conducting research

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With so many staffing firms available, it can be a little challenging to pick the best one that will meet your needs. But if you choose one without doing your homework, there’s a good chance that you won’t get what you’re looking for out of the position.

Therefore, you must do your due diligence first. By conducting research, looking into the company closely and checking reviews, you’ll guide yourself to reputable physician recruiters like mascmedical.com and avoid those who won’t be able to fulfill their promises to you.

2. Be wary of more extended travels

Better hourly rates in remote areas might sound attractive. However, it would be best if you also considered the proximity and whether it might not be worth the financial incentive.

So when you begin negotiating for your rate, don’t forget about the time it’ll take you to travel to the outpatient location or the hospital. Doing so won’t just allow you to make more money on the assignment, but you’ll be paid fairly for the trouble.

3. Beware of short-term assignments

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Many healthcare facilities require their staffing gaps to be filled for only a week or two. Even if the assignment comes at a higher rate, the sheer amount of credentialing hassle and paperwork might be too much trouble for the duration of your stay.

The higher the cumulative number of facilities worked, the longer it’ll take for credentialing to complete in future placements in your locum tenens assignments. If you don’t figure this out you may be in danger of getting a locums which you do not like or it won’t fill your needs at all.

4. Steer clear of more than one travel service

It’s a good idea to stick to a single hotel chain, airline, or car rental when working in locum tenens. In doing so, you’ll avoid the hassle of having to deal with multiple services. You’ll also have the opportunity to use any of the points you’ve accumulated during your working days for your future holidays and vacations.

5. Avoid disorganized companies

If the chosen locum agency is having you do the paperwork for the credentials, you’ll want to walk away and find another company. After all, it’s an indicator that they lack a credentialing staff. When it comes to locum work, the company should be in charge of all the documentation and paperwork.

All you should be doing is reviewing and correcting any mistakes. You also need to be able to switch your agency if you feel that they are not representing you well enough. You are in power as you are needed, not the agency.

6. No insurance

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As a first timer you need to be aware that malpractice insurance you already have with your other job won’t cover locums. You need to have a different malpractice policy assigned with each of your locums.

Make sure you have the right insurance that will apply to your locum job. Especially when getting an assignment be sure to research it well enough and see what is insured and what not.

7. Low pay

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You also need to be aware that you can negotiate for the pay. You may get a contract on which you would like to jump but remember that medicine is run by money and you need to receive the right compensation for your work.

These assignments are usually paid by the hour and you need to know that you can be extra compensated by working on holidays, going on pager duty and any overtime. So see and check your offer twice to figure out how much money you can ask and how flexible you will be.

8. Keep track of everything

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In medicine you need to document all and everything. Especially when doing locums you need to write everything down. When communicating with agencies and recruiters you need to make sure that it all adds up.

Sometimes these people will make unrealistic promises that you will have to provide. When you start working on an assignment you may see how things are not as you agreed on. If you don’t have all in writing you are out of luck. You need all the emails, all the letters, all traces of communication at hand.

9. Don’t be in despair

When working as a locum it can often feel uncertain. You may wonder when you will get your first assignment or will it be something that you like. Questions about money arise too, will that assignment be enough financially. All this can be thought mentally but you need to know that you as a physician are always on the upper side.

There are not so many doctors today and the demand is big, so you just need to wait a bit, play your cards right and the lifetime opportunity will present itself. All this can be great for your career and for your work with people. So just be patient!


Being a locum tenens physician can be advantageous, regardless of your current stage in your healthcare career. However, to ensure that you have an excellent experience, you must steer clear of the common pitfalls that many first-time practitioners fall into. The fewer mistakes that you make, the greater the benefits you reap. With all that we wish you all the luck.

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