Ryan Scharer
Feb 11, 2020, 20 min read

Regardless of the stage of a provider’s career, locum tenens can help strike the right balance between work, family and social needs.

When you think about your healthcare career as a physician, there is often one set trajectory. You finish medical school, complete your residency and get a job. You might move between hospitals or small practices a few times, but you’re working day-in and day-out until it’s time to retire.

Healthcare providers have high-demand jobs and face tremendous pressures, including:

  • Impact of failure
  • Intensive education processes
  • Reimbursement changes affecting pay

Half of all doctors report troubling symptoms from feeling burned out: depression, exhaustion, dissatisfaction and a sense of failure, according to a Harvard report on A Call to Action on Physician Burnout

Additionally, every medical provider at some point in his or her career will experience one or more of the three goods: financial, personal and social.

1) Financial good is making money, whether to pay off debt or save for the future.

2) Personal good is when you’re doing work that makes you happy, helping you find a balance in your life.

3) Social good occurs when you can give back to a community, perhaps working in under-served areas or learning new techniques to advance your ability to provide exceptional patient care.

These three goods are not always a focal point at the same time. And sometimes, one must be sacrificed for another. But what if there was a way to achieve them all, while still finding time for friends and family? What if you could achieve them without burning out?



The locum tenens path 

With healthcare experiencing rapid change and a shortage of professionals choosing to enter the industry, the standard path of medicine is leading to provider burnout. This paradigm shift has drastically changed who participates in locums opportunities and has provided healthcare professionals a way to escape an inevitable burnout cycle. 

Whether healthcare providers have just finished their residencies, have been working for five years or even for 20, they can use locums work to meet whichever “good” is currently their top priority.

Early career 

Healthcare providers just starting their careers often are carrying a large amount of debt from medical school loans. Anxious to pay it off, saving money for the future is not necessarily a top priority. These individuals want to make money and decompress from the extensive hours they are often working per week.

Locum tenens can be an ideal way to supplement your income while still doing the job that you love. Additionally, locums can offer a compelling reason to travel and have different life experiences. Providers are encouraged to keep an open mind about where the jobs could take them. Young doctors can take that vacation to Hawaii they’ve always dreamed of. Prior to returning home, they can choose to pick up a shift at a Hawaiian hospital.

“Whether healthcare providers have just finished their residencies, have been working for five years or even for 20, they can use locums work to meet whichever “good” is currently their top priority.”

Mid-career

For healthcare providers who have established themselves in their careers, their focus may shift. They are curious to advance certain techniques or methodologies as their practice grows, and they may begin looking for a different learning environment. This is more on the social good tier. Ask yourself: How can I find a way to advance my skills so I can be a better overall provider? Where can I do the most good? It can also provide a great stopgap for a mid-career change because locums does not lock providers into long-term contracts.

Perhaps providers have only worked in busy cities, but now want to try working in border towns or on military bases. With locum tenens work, healthcare providers can expand their capabilities by opting for a completely different environment and learn how other parts of the country practice medicine and patient care daily.

Late career 

When healthcare providers are nearing retirement, their priorities will likely shift yet again. At this point, they’ve been saving up their nest egg and money is not the core driver for the type of work they choose. Even so, they might not be ready to retire from their profession but instead want to retire from the demands of their profession. They want to provide quality patient care, but also see the country while they’re doing it. Or, book international vacation getaways in between locums assignments. Some providers want to work but not be on-call every night and weekend, or desire to carry a heavy patient load.

Locum tenens offers the ability to pick up a shift when and where they want it. Visiting the grandkids in Ohio might also mean having the chance to add some locums work with a shift or two at a local practice. Retirement might be near, but if you’re not ready to be completely done yet, there are still viable options.

Beyond 24/7 on call

The idea of practicing medicine is often paired with the premise that a provider’s entire life must be 24/7 on call to hospitals or their practice, while their families (and personal time) stay on standby. Click here to read how Millennials and Generation Z are looking for a better work-life balance.

Providers want to do good. But it’s important to remember that “doing good” encompasses so much more. Whether you’re focusing on the monetary, personal or social good, it’s not necessary to sacrifice one thing for another.

Locum tenens can be that pathway to strike the balance of being a parent, spouse and active community member without abandoning the desire to care for patients. 

Want to keep the conversation going about locum tenens? Let’s talk. Call 1-888-837-3172.

By Ryan Scharer

Ryan Scharer is a co-founder of Hayes Locums, an award-winning physician and advanced practitioner staffing company founded on a commitment to advance the ability to provide exceptional patient care throughout the country. His background, which is rooted in sales for the medical industry, is critical to his role as COO. Ryan leads sales and guides the development of the Hayes Locums team of staffing consultants.

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