The locum life is becoming more and more popular as medical practices see the advantage of having temporary doctors cover a portion of the patient workload. In the same way, doctors are becoming aware of the freedom and flexibility that can be gleaned from moving from practice to practice.
While the locum tenens position would not be suitable for everyone, if it appeals to you there are things you must take into consideration before you begin. There are some risks connected with this nomadic type of working life. Read on for some important rules for locums …
Rule # 1- The locum company works for the practice
If you decide to find a locum position through an agency, be aware that the company is working as an agent for the medical practice, and is not working for you as the locum doctor. This is very easy to understand as the practice pays the bill to the company. The company will not protect your best interests so you must do that yourself. This may mean that you will have to negotiate changes to your contract. You need to learn the art of negotiation when it comes to dealing with a locum tenens company.
Rule # 2- What the agreement is made up of
The agreement that is drawn up for you by the locum tenens company should include a number of different items. Provisions should be on there to protect your receipt of payment as well as to cover the travelling you must do. The provisions should also include your housing arrangement, the travelling you will have to do for the position, as well as providing for malpractice insurance. Any other expenses that are a part of the job should be listed on the agreement as well.
Make sure that there is something on the agreement that allows you the opportunity to express conflicts and problems you encounter, as well as a termination clause that stipulates that you will be let out of your contract if the assignment you take on turns out to be abusive to you in any manner.
To avoid finding yourself in an undesirable or negative work environment that poses any problems to your safety and welfare, it is advisable to start your stint as a locum physician with brief assignments, such as ones that are only a week to three weeks in duration.
Keep in mind once again that the company is working for the practice but that they know very little about what goes on at the practice on a day-to-day basis. Your reality may be very different from the reality that is described to you by the staffing company.
Rule # 3- Understanding the payment terms
It is an unfortunate aspect of locum life that some doctors end up suing the company for money that is owed to them for assignments. To avoid a delay in payment and the costs associated with litigation, make sure there is a provision in your contract that stipulates that the practice must pay you on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This is a much better deal for the locum than is being paid by the locum company as it takes out the middle man in the transaction. If you are paid directly by the practice, there is no worry that money will be withheld or delayed for any reason.
Being aware of these three basic rules will make your search for the right locum position that much simpler. It lends itself to a smoother transition and will allow you to breathe easier!