Medical student loan forgiveness isn’t the only option for doctors who want to get out from under the burden of medical school debt. Locum tenens can help you pay down debt faster, without sacrificing your other financial priorities.
Medical school debt is an ongoing concern for physicians, many of whom are carrying upwards of $200,000 in debt. Physician loan repayment has been on pause since the pandemic began, but that pause is projected to come to an end by September. While restarting your physician loan repayment might feel overwhelming, there’s no need to panic: locum tenens can help make a dent in your debt.
Read on to find out answers to all your questions on loan forgiveness for doctors, and how locum tenens can help you tackle your medical school debt:
How does the payment pause impact my physician loan repayment?
While for now physicians are not required to make payments on their medical student loan debt, it is likely that the pause will come to an end by early fall. That means now is a good time to make a plan for how to pay down your medical school debt.
Is it worth trying to pay down my student loan debt faster, or should I wait for physician loan forgiveness to kick in?
Student loan forgiveness can be useful for doctors who meet certain criteria, including working in high-need, public-run, or non-profit medical settings for at least ten years, and making 120 qualifying loan payments. But even if you intend to take advantage of medical student loan forgiveness programs, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. Taking steps to pay down your debt now will ensure that if you want to shift career paths in the future, you won’t be hampered by your medical school student loan debt.
How can locum tenens help me pay down medical school debt?
Locums assignments tend to pay at a higher rate than full-time hospital roles. Especially for doctors just out of residency or in fellowship programs, which tend to pay at lower rates, supplementing your income with locum tenens can help you earn more money that you can then dedicate to paying off your medical school debt faster.
How much does locum tenens pay?
Locum tenens rates can shift depending on factors like specialty, location, and what kind of assignment you take. But certain assignments do tend to pay more: for example, high-need areas tend to pay at a higher rate, as do assignments that take place over holidays, which pay at time and a half.
How quickly can I expect to pay down my student loans with locums?
Your student loan repayment depends on your level of medical school debt, as well as other factors, like specialty and how much time you’re able to commit to locum tenens. But generally speaking, if you’re able to supplement your full-time income with $5,000 a month in locum tenens income––which can be a reasonable expectation for many specialties––you could pay off your $200K of medical school debt in 40 months, or a little over 3 years.
Your consultant should be able to help you come up with a realistic projection of what you can expect to make through locum tenens work. We recommend plugging in your projected locums income into a student loan repayment calculator, along with your medical school debt and other expenses, to figure out a timeframe to pay down your medical school debt that works for you.