The TheraEx Locums Blog

News and insights from our team of experts.


Newbie Locum Tenens Mistakes We’ll Help You Avoid

Although you are probably already a doctor, or physician or have just spent years studying and completing residency to become one, that doesn’t mean transitioning to your career as a Locum Tenens is foolproof. Although you acquire the skills and experience, you’ll still need to learn how the Locum Tenens industry works.

As a rookie, you’re bound to make some mistakes here and there, and that’s okay. Those serve as lessons needing to be learned. However, we’re here to provide the hot gossip on some of the mistakes previous Locums have made at the beginning of their journey on this path and we want to help you avoid these too!

Why Is A Locum Tenens Job Different To A Permanent Position?

A Locum Tenens position requires you to travel to alternate areas around the country and work in new hospital settings each time. The contract or assignment lengths are dependent on each specific arrangement but can usually last from two weeks to two months. Once the assignment is over, you could accept the possibility of staying and extending your contract or taking your skills somewhere else. On top of this, if you are in a comfortable position, you could even take time between assignments to recharge and spend time with family and friends before you head off again. With great pay, the opportunity to greatly expand your horizons and being able to select the place you want to work, it’s a job option many people are flocking to.

Common Mistakes First Time Locum Tenens Make

Malpractice Insurance

From other Locums to you, the most common mistake new Locum Tenens make is with their insurance. What you may not know by stepping into this position is that the insurance you have with your permanent job does not actually cover the Locum Tenens role. Also known as “professional liability insurance,” you need to make sure you have a separate malpractice policy for all of your assignments. With Medscape publishing that approximately 40% of family physicians alone have malpractice suits placed against them, it’s vital that you have yourself covered, just in case. Your Locum Tenens staffing agency will usually include this into your package, but ALWAYS ask to make sure.

Negotiating Pay Rate

Another common misconception is that the amount you are offered is simply the only amount you will be paid. Some Locums simply accept whatever offer they are receiving without realizing they can actually negotiate. At the end of the day, medicine is a business and you should be getting compensated what you deserve for the immense amount of work you put in. However, not every single position you influence a higher pay rate if you ask, so you must make sure you are asking the right ones. If you are unsure, discuss this with your recruiter to find out if it is an option worth taking at the time.

On the other hand, you must also put into consideration pay rates in specific situations like holiday work, overtime, after-hours work or hazard duty (like COVID units, etc.). These questions can be communicated with your recruiter and then confirmed in your interview.

Do You Have The Skills And Confidence?

We all want to believe we are the perfect candidate for whatever position is offered to us. However, when it comes to working in a hospital setting, you must make sure you are actually confident enough for the job. Veteran Locum Tenens have mentioned their own experiences with truly believing they were going to be okay and then realizing they didn’t have as much knowledge in the specific areas as they believed. For instance, an individual who worked in a Veterans Hospital with end-stage ailments found that his experience in a hospital ER was very different. At the end of the day, meeting your job expectations is crucial and being comfortable with your skills is what’s going to make your whole experience that much greater.

Being Adaptable

Coming off of being confident in the role you are taking on, there is also being adaptable in that role too. With many changes occurring in the healthcare industry, hospitals needing your skills and assistance wherever it comes up. You should really be seeing yourself as the 6th man who takes the pressure off the starting 5 on the court. Your adaptability can be immense to those around you. Being positive, of course, is an important attribute, but can also help you when being asked for help or receiving help yourself and for your future jobs. If you are someone who doesn’t shy away from learning something new – despite how much experience and training you have – you ultimately are placing yourself in the best position for your future.

Double Check Your Contract

It can be common for assignments to be presented in a way that simply gets you through the door. The important thing to do is make sure you know what details you want and that those details are specified in any document you send out or receive. Get everything in writing! If it isn’t in writing and things turn out differently than you expected, there may not be much you can do once everything is signed.

Choosing The Right Locum Tenens Agency

Your recruitment company is going to be your right-hand man. Getting you all the things you want and need in order to make your experience the most professional and profound it can be. It is important to choose a recruiter you can trust, talk with and that you know has your back, no matter what situation arises. Here at TheraEx, you can find this and more. We partner with some of the leading healthcare institutions in the country and specialize in bridging the gap between the demands of a busy clinical facility and the doctors, dentists, and advanced practice professionals we represent. If you’d like to learn more about joining the Locum Tenens force, contact us today!

Beginners make mistakes and that’s okay. What’s even better is learning from the past mistakes that those who were in our shoes once made. We can take these lessons and prepare ourselves for a better newbie situation and dive into the next chapter of our lives with confidence and of course, adaptability!