Choosing Your Favorite Hospitals as a Locum

The release of the annual Physician’s Choice survey from Medscape revealed some of the U.S. hospitals where doctors prefer to practice. Among the top vote-getters are the Cleveland Clinic, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Mayo Clinic. The survey offers food for thought for doctors seriously considering getting out of private practice or permanent employment in favor of locum tenens work.

There are a lot of advantages to working as a locum doctor. They include the freedom that comes with being a self-employed contractor. That freedom allows doctors to choose where and when they work. For example, a doctor who really wants to experience what it is like to practice surgery at the Cleveland Clinic could keep an eye out for assignments there. As soon as one comes up, the doctor can go after it.

Obviously, the freedom afforded by locum tenens work increases the longer a doctor has been doing it. New locums are often left with the least desirable assignments to choose from. But like anything else, nothing worth having in the locum tenens arena comes without working for it.

Here are some things to know about choosing your favorite hospitals as a locum doctor:

1. Take What You Can Get

Not every locum assignment is going to be at a facility like Massachusetts General Hospital. Locums sometimes have to take what they can get in order to keep the income flowing. But taking what you can get as a locum is a lot different than doing it as an employed doctor.

When you are employed, you have to face the fact that leaving your job means having to find another one. It could mean months and months of searching, speaking with recruiters, and interviewing. That’s not so with locum tenens work. If you don’t like the facility you are currently working at, it’s not a problem. The assignment will not last forever. As soon as it’s over, you move on to the next one and vow never to return to that facility again.

2. Your Reputation Matters

Locum work has come a long way since the early days of the 1970s. Nonetheless, locums are often defined by their reputations. If you want to work for your favorite hospitals more often than not, you’re going to have to compete with others who want the same assignments. It could be that your reputation is the only thing that sets you apart – for good or bad.

This is to say that locum doctors have to maintain stellar reputations if they want the best possible assignments. That means always giving 100%. It means always doing the best possible job. It means figuring out how to get along with colleagues. A locum branded as a troublemaker is going to find him/herself facing slim pickings more often than not.

3. Time Makes Locum Work Better

Working as a locum physician tends to be a good deal right from the start. But locum work is like wine. It ages very well. Doctors who get involved with locum work and stay with it find that it gets better as time progresses. Assignments get more attractive, scheduling gets easier, and traveling becomes second nature.

If there are one or two top-notch facilities you have always dreamed of working at, one way to realize your dream is to look for a few locum tenens assignments. If you’re up for a real adventure, you might consider doing locum work full-time. There is no shortage of contracts to keep you busy year-round. You’ll earn more, enjoy greater freedom, and have the opportunity to work at some outstanding facilities.

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