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March 20, 2023

Locum Tenens Physician Salary Guide

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Dr. Shefiu Lanre Shittu

President of Daily Care Solutions

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Locum tenens of temporary health service assignments began as a way to provide healthcare services for rural, remote, and underprivileged areas. In the current healthcare climate, the demand for locum tenens physicians is increasing to serve a broader patient base.

Many physicians are moving to locum tenens as full-time jobs because of their freedom and balance. For physicians wondering if they should make this transition, we’ll explain why a locum tenens physician salary is viable and sustainable.

Reasons Physicians Like Locum Tenens to Earn Additional Income

Physicians at all career stages pick up locum tenens assignments to earn more income. Doctors just out of residency like locum tenens jobs to help pay off their school debt faster. Some like the extra money to use for additional expenses or family needs.

And some doctors nearing retirement love the higher pay without the office politics or management issues. For some physicians, the salary pay is better to take a few long-term assignments than to work full-time at their local healthcare facility.

The Average Locum Tenens Physician’s Pay Rate  

Locum physicians tend to earn a higher hourly rate than full-time physicians. Locum physicians are willing to travel to more rural or underserved areas that must pay higher rates to attract physicians to their facilities.

The national average for a full-time locum tenens physician is $265,740 per year or about $128/hour. But several factors influence the pay rate, such as:

  • Location
  • Specialty
  • Patient Load
  • Shift Type

Some of the most in-demand pay ranges for locum tenens assignments include:

  • Psychiatry: $180-$210/hour
  • Hospitalist: $140-$190/hour
  • Family medicine: $90-$125/hour
  • General surgery: $1,100-$1,400/day
  • Emergency medicine: $100-$300/hour
  • OB/GYN: $100-$140/hour

Highest Paying US States for Locum Tenens Physician Salary

woman giving shots

Several states have significantly fewer active physicians per capita than other states. These lower per capita states that need the most help and pay the highest for locum tenens jobs include:

  • Mississippi
  • South Dakota
  • Kansas
  • Vermont
  • Nebraska
  • West Virginia
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Missouri
  • Delaware

How to Determine a Locum Tenens Salary Rate

The Advancing the Business of Healthcare (AAPC) recommends being paid on a per diem or Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system through a locum tenens agency or a trust bank. Most locum tenens assignments have set rates based on the healthcare facility’s needs.

If the facility doesn’t have a set rate for the locum tenens assignment, you’ll want to negotiate the pay rate before taking the assignment. Utilizing a locum tenens agency can help you negotiate and navigate the best pay for locum tenens jobs.

Is Locum Tenens Worth It?

Yes. Absolutely. Locum tenens jobs are a great way to supplement your income or to choose a more flexible full-time occupation. The advantages of locum tenens include the following:

  • Offering healthcare expertise and your specialty services to underserved areas.
  • Relieving hardworking, overworked physicians in these understaffed facilities.
  • Receiving competitive pay and other perks for a temporary assignment.
  • Changing your environment and pace from your current practice.
  • Traveling and living in a new place.
  • Choosing a schedule that fits a more balanced life for you.
  • Experiencing different pathology, populations, or cultures.
  • Reducing or preventing physician burnout.

Wondering if locum tenens work is right for you? Contact us to learn how to get started as a locum tenens physician.

Related Link: Daily Care Solutions Careers

Choosing a Locum Tenens Assignment

Whether you choose to use a locum tenens agency or independently, there are some tips for choosing a locum tenens job:

  • Ask questions and articulate preferences with a recruiter, agency, or hiring facility.
  • Identify the hours or shifts that would best suit your schedule.
  • Ask about the facility and the patient load for the hiring assignment.
  • Clarify expectations and pay rates.

How Working with a Locum Tenens Agency Can Benefit You

A locum tenens agency offers physicians who would like full-time, part-time, or occasional assignments several benefits, such as:

  • Finding and connecting physicians with locum tenens assignments.
  • Creating a flexible schedule.
  • Handling payment and allocating pay how the physician needs it.
  • Offering resources and support for training and development.
  • Simplifying the workforce process.

At Daily Care Solutions, we have an impressive 98% retention rate with physicians that choose our services to connect to the best locum tenens jobs. We provide various assignments that physicians can choose from that fits their schedule and needs.

Contact us to find a locum tenens assignment that fits your specialty.

A Locum Tenens Agency Covers More Than Pay

doctor seeing patient

In addition to ensuring that you receive payment for your assignment, a locum tenens agency will cover the following:

  • Medical malpractice insurance: Physicians are generally covered by the agency’s malpractice policy during the assignment. The type of coverage varies from agency to agency, so you’ll want to ask before joining.
  • Credentials, licensing, and privileging: The agency can help you gather, file, and get all necessary credentials, licenses, and privileges efficiently and quickly.
  • Housing and travel: The locum tenens agency will line up accommodations and travel to the assignment, making it easier on the physician and one less thing to worry about.

While the agency is excellent for covering these other expenses, they do not cover personal health insurance and taxes. As an independent contractor, you’ll need to set aside taxes and secure private health insurance.

If you work full-time and do locum work on the side, then your employer will cover your insurance. As for taxes, you may want to talk to your accountant about the optimal way to set aside taxes from your additional income.

A Locum Tenens Physician Salary Can Be a Viable Career

Choosing to do locum tenens as a full-term career is possible because of the demand, benefits, and high pay. If you prefer to supplement your practice with locum tenens, that’s a great option too. Utilizing an agency can make the process easier and hassle-free.

Daily Care Solutions connects healthcare facilities with top-rate locum tenens physicians and specialists. We offer services to ensure you find the best assignments that fit your schedule, preferences, and specialty.

Related Link: Daily Care Solutions Metrics

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Dr. Shefiu Lanre Shittu

President of Daily Care Solutions

Internal Medicine physician with over 10 years of experience in medical staffing solution. Completed medical education and residency in Columbia University. Provided expert oversight to private groups and hospitals. Contracted services organization and Take charge of establishing three hospitalist programs from inception to completion. Develop the scope of practice and negotiate contracts with other departments and specialties. Perform a wide range of tasks including contract negotiations, revenue cycle and human resource management, process improvement, and introduction of interdisciplinary rounding. Drove key efforts toward the reduction of cost of running programs by approximately 15-20%. Identified staffing needs while creating unique staffing plans for programs.

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