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March 20, 2023

Locum Tenens Salary: Everything You Need to Know

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Dr. Shefiu Lanre Shittu

President of Daily Care Solutions

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Many physicians have been turning to locum tenens work because the locum tenens salary is sustainable as a full-time physician. Whether you’re looking to supplement your current position or make the leap to full-time locum tenens, you can’t go wrong. We’ll explain what you need to know about locum tenens pay rates and where you can find the best assignments.

Why Locum Tenens Work is in High Demand

Locum tenens pay rates have been growing significantly for the past few years due to increasing demand. The most influential factors driving demand for locum tenens jobs are:

  • Physician shortages
  • Increased need for specific specialties, such as cardiology, critical care, pulmonary care, and emergency medicine
  • Increased patient volume exposes staffing gaps

Why Physicians Work Locum Tenens

physician operating

Many physicians choose to work locum tenens for a variety of reasons. The most common benefits of working locum tenens include:

  • Bringing healthcare expertise and specialty services to rural, remote, and underprivileged areas.
  • Relieving hardworking, overworked physicians in these underserved areas.
  • Earning competitive pay and excellent benefits for a temporary assignment.
  • Having a change of pace from where they are currently practicing.
  • Living in a new place, whether that’s a small town or more exotic.
  • Allowing the physician to save more money because many living and traveling costs to the assignment are frequently covered.
  • Having more schedule flexibility.
  • Being exposed to different pathology, populations, or cultures.
  • Avoiding office politics and management headaches.
  • Avoiding physician burnout.

Related Link: Daily Care Solutions Careers

Thinking about doing a locum tenens assignment? Contact us to learn how to get started in locum tenens work.

Disadvantages of Working Locum Tenens

Locum tenen’s work can appeal to doctors at all stages of their careers. But there are a few disadvantages you should be aware of before taking your first assignment:

  • Taxes: Any income from locum tenens is billed as an independent contractor. So you’ll be responsible for paying and filing taxes on any gain from locum tenens assignments.
  • Lack of Insurance: Locum tenens assignments do not provide healthcare insurance for the physician. You’ll need your own insurance if you are doing full-time locum tenens work. Those supplementing their income with locum tenens will probably have insurance through their main employment.
  • Job Instability: If you choose locum tenens to work full-time, this can come with some job instability because the assignments are for a set period of time. You may have gaps in your schedule between assignments.
  • Traveling All the Time: Some thrive on traveling, which can be draining for others. It is hard to set down roots when constantly moving from assignment to assignment.
  • Time Away from Friends and Family: If you have a close network of friends and family where you live, you may find this hard to strengthen these connections. If you have children, moving them around when they are in school or being away from them too often can be tough.

How Physicians Earn Money Doing Locum Tenens

Several factors influence how much money you’ll make doing locum tenens. Here are a few common factors that can increase your pay rate:

  • Specialty: Some physician specialties are in constant demand and are hard to fill in underserved areas. There are locum tenens assignments in over 100 specialties. If your specialty is in higher demand, you’ll be compensated accordingly.
  • Patient Load: Facilities with high patient loads tend to pay more for locum tenens assignments than slower ones because the physicians will be very busy while on assignment.
  • Location: There are assignments across the United States and other countries willing to pay more because of the need. Rural areas tend to pay the most because it is so challenging to attract physicians to their areas.
  • Type of Shift: Some assignments are on weekends, a month at a time, on holidays, or on-call. The more undesirable the shift, the higher the pay tends to be more attractive.

Related Link: Daily Care Solutions Metrics

The Average Locum Tenens Pay Rate          

physician operating

Physicians working locum tenens generally make a higher hourly rate than full-time physicians. This is generally because the physician works as an independent contractor and doesn’t get other benefits like insurance, PTO, etc.

A full-time locum tenens physician makes an average of $265,740 per year or about $128/hour. The pay rate will be subjective based on the factors we listed above. Location and specialty are the most significant influence on pay rate. That said, here are typical pay ranges for locum tenens assignments:

  • 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
  • Psychiatry: $180-$210/hour

Highest Paying US States for Locum Tenens Jobs

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

  1. Mississippi
  2. South Dakota
  3. Kansas
  4. Vermont
  5. Nebraska
  6. West Virginia
  7. Colorado
  8. Florida
  9. Missouri
  10. Delaware

Most Popular Specialty Locum Tenens Salary Rates

The highest-paying specialties for locum tenens assignments are:

  • Psychiatrist
  • Hospitalist Physician
  • Anesthesiologist
  • Cardiac Surgery
  • Hospitalist
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Family Medicine
  • Gastroenterology
  • General Surgery
  • Interventional Cardiology

How Does a Locum Get Paid?

Locum doctors generally get paid as Pay As You Earn (PAYE) through a locum tenens agency or a staff bank for the healthcare facility. Using a locum tenens agency is nice because they provide other logistical services to help manage your money, taxes, and other financials.

Many Physicians Choose Locum Tenens for the High Salary

Locum tenens has many benefits and a high salary, which makes it attractive as supplemental income or a full-time occupation. Physicians enjoy flexibility, change of scene, and higher pay rate. It’s advantageous to use a locum tenens agency for finding assignments and managing the financial logistics involved.

Daily Care Solutions connects healthcare facilities that need top-rate locum tenens physicians and specialists. We have an impressive 98% retention rate with the physicians that utilize our services to connect to the best locum tenens assignments.

Related Link: About Daily Care Solutions

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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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