Almost 2/3rds of healthcare providers feel burnt out at work, according to recent studies. But locums can help. 

Healthcare facilities are increasingly relying on locum tenens––the practice of hiring physicians and other healthcare providers on a temporary basis to fill gaps in care or occupy vacant positions until a full-time provider can be found––to keep their hospitals adequately staffed.

But locum tenens isn’t just a lifesaver for hospitals––locums work can also be a lifesaver for physicians struggling with burnout. 

According to Medscape’s 2023 U.S. Physician Burnout and Depression Report, 53% of physicians report feeling burnt out, with nearly two-thirds of physicians reporting that they have felt burned out for longer than a year. The specialties with highest rates of burnout include emergency department physicians, internal medicine, pediatrics, and OB/GYN and infectious disease physicians.

One thing is clear from these trends: solutions for physician burnout have never been more necessary.

Here are some of the benefits of working locum tenens when it comes to preventing and dealing with physician burnout:

The Ability to Work at Your Own Pace

One of the most attractive benefits of working locum tenens for physicians––especially those feeling burnt out in their current positions––is its flexibility.

 “Locums lets you work at your own pace, which is an attractive aspect for many physicians, especially after the stress of the last few years,” said Hayes Locums Co-Founder Bobby Moses. “It’s not an option for overextended physicians to simply stop working for a year; if they want to continue practicing medicine, they have to keep their case logs current. Locums offers physicians a way of slowing down, without stopping altogether.

As more and more hospitals rely on locum tenens, there are more options available than ever for when and how often to practice––whether it’s one or two weeks a month, occasional weekends, or long-term assignments.

Unlike full-time hospital work, locums work is finite, which can make it easier to manage burnout. “Because each role has a clear start and end date, you know where the finish line is, which can give you the energy you need to keep running,” Hayes Locums co-founder Ryan Scharer said. “Then, when you’re done, you can go back home, hit the reset button, and get ready for the next race.”

Locum tenens can also function as a transition between full-time positions. Whether you’re looking for lower caseloads, or fewer of certain clinical procedures, locums gives you the opportunity to try out different roles and practice environments before jumping into another full-time position.

“When I was practicing every day, I was a lot busier, getting home late and leaving home early. But now, I can be here when my daughter comes home from school, and all these other things that I wasn’t able to do on a day-to-day basis before locums. Locums is a great way to practice medicine that is more lifestyle friendly. Especially if you’re on the brink of complete burnout, it’s a way of combating that but still practicing.”

-Hayes Locums Urologist | Midwest

Less Administrative Burden

Administrative overload––from dealing with mountains of paperwork, to navigating insurance requirements and scheduling conflicts––is one of the main drivers of burnout. According to a recent poll from Doximity, 45% of physicians cited reducing the administrative burden as the single best way to reduce burnout.

Because locums physicians are brought on to cover temporary staffing gaps, they don’t have to shoulder the same administrative workload as full-time hospital employees, leaving more time . to spend on the parts of medicine that they enjoy. 

“Working as a locum tenens removes some of the administrative elements of medical practice that contribute to employee burnout,” said Scharer. “You can stay out of administrative politics, since you’re not employed by the hospital itself.”

“Much of [physician] burnout has to do with juggling the complexities of paperwork and balancing profit versus expenses. Locum tenens work is very circumscribed and defined. I do not come home to a mountain of incomplete paperwork on my desk. This change to clear cut duties and real time off has been wonderful.”

–Hayes Locums Psychiatrist | West

More Time Spent with Patients

Because of the decreased administrative burden, locums physicians have more time to dedicate to why they got into medicine in the first place: taking care of patients.

“Locums allows you to purely practice medicine, so you can reconnect with the reasons you went into medicine to begin with,” said Hayes Locums Co-Founder Ryan Scharer.

Because medical facilities often bring in locums physicians to cover staffing gaps, it can reduce stress among all of the medical staff, including locums physicians, by spreading out the work of patient care. According to a recent HealthDay-Harris Poll survey, understaffing is the single biggest driving factor contributing to burnout, so the ability to spend more time with individual patients can be a big factor in fighting it.

“I came from a practice where I was really, really busy. I didn’t feel like I was able to spend as much time with patients as I would have wanted. With locums, it’s less busy, even though there’s a bigger need, so I get to spend more time talking to people. Especially in a small town, it makes you feel a part of the community.”

-Hayes Locums Physician | Midwest

Higher Pay Rates

Physician compensation has seen an increase in the past few years, and locums pay rates are no exception. 

In part because of the high demand due to increasing physician shortages, hospitals are willing to pay a higher rate in order to fill their staffing gaps. According to a recent Medscape report on physician compensation, self-employed physicians––including locum tenens physicians––made 20% more than employed physicians last year.

With locums, you also have the benefit of a dedicated consultant who can help you understand and negotiate your rates based on their knowledge of the industry and market trends. Your Hayes Locums consultant is always available to help you find a match that meets your financial needs, and negotiate the best possible salary.

At first I was concerned about whether there would be enough locums work to ensure I had consistent income. But I haven’t had issues securing work at any point…and when I did find work, it was pretty lucrative. That’s one of the benefits of locums: you don’t always have to be working to earn a good income.”

-Hayes Locums Physician | Southeast

Ready for a change? We can help. Call 1-888-837-3172, or search our open locums jobs.