Story Beyond Operation: How Locum Tenens Shape the World of a Surgeon


An estimated 85 percent of medical facilities turn to locum tenens providers to fill temporary positions or help ease the burden of staffing shortages. That number has been growing for quite some time. Reports show that the number of doctors who provide locum tenens services has been on the rise for several years as well. Over the last decade, the number of locum tenens providers has surged by more than 80 percent. Even so, they still make up only about 7 percent of the total physicians in America.

Many physicians, including surgeons, who serve as locum tenens say they’re happy with this lifestyle. Quite a few prefer it over permanent positions in private practices or hospitals. If you’re interested in becoming a locum tenens general surgeon, it could offer several benefits. Take a look at some of the ways locum tenens work could shape your world. 

More Flexibility

One of the main reasons so many surgeons prefer locum tenens work is the flexibility it gives them. They can choose whether they want short assignments that may only last a few weeks or longer ones that last for several months at a time. They can also pick assignment of different lengths based on their needs and lifestyles. If they want to stay in a specific region, they can choose relatively local assignments. On the other hand, if they want to explore the country or even travel abroad, there are assignments to accommodate. 

Locum tenens providers can also choose assignments with workloads that fit in with other aspects of their lives. If they want to spend more time with their families, they can pick assignments with lighter workloads. That gives them a better work-life balance and helps prevent burnout. Those who don’t yet have a family or whose children have grown up and moved out on their own may prefer to choose assignments with heavier workloads and devote the majority of their time to patient care. 

Having New Experiences

Surgeons also enjoy locum tenens work because it allows them to experience an array of practice settings and patient demographics. They can spend time working in urban areas with heavy volumes of patients and transition to rural areas with a bit of a slower pace. They can work in high-end communities followed by stints in remote or underserved areas. They can even play roles in community outreach programs in low-income areas where their services are perhaps needed most.

That exposes them to an array of new experiences. As a result, it helps to build their knowledge and skills. It gives them virtually endless room for professional and personal growth as well. 

Making Transitions

Another reason some surgeons choose to provide locum tenens services is to fill transitional periods. Some switch to locum tenens work when they’re getting close to retirement. That allows them to gradually ease their way out of full-time work so retirement isn’t quite such a drastic change. Others use locum tenens assignments early on in their careers to prepare them for full-time practice. There are countless instances in between where locum tenens assignments can make transitioning from one stage to another much simpler. 

Reaping the Rewards of Locum Tenens Work

Many surgeons find locum tenens work to be incredibly rewarding. It gives them far more flexibility than they would have with permanent positions and allows them to maintain the work-life balance they want. It can also allow them to choose where they work and which communities they serve. It can expose them to a variety of new experiences and help them transition from one phase of their life or career to another as well. All those factors can help shape a surgeon’s world well beyond the operating room. 

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