Pros and Cons
Although he misses his family when he’s traveling, Dr. Namkung now spends more quality time with them, “because I realize how precious that time is.” His wife, a pharmacist, makes it a point to take time off when he’s home, and they do more things together as a family.
Another bonus: “I meet different docs, nursing staffs, and administrators,” Dr. Namkung says. “Since I’m here alone, we have the chance to have dinner together and spend time. In that way, I bond with a lot more people than I would normally if I stayed in one place.”
Dr. Kerley racked up the frequent-flier miles during his one-year assignment to Alaska, which was a plus when it came to financing family vacations.
Working in other states entails meeting state-specific licensing requirements. Some companies, such as Cogent-HMG, pay the costs of obtaining those state licenses. Others do not, and the paperwork, says Dr. Barnett, can be “a nightmare.” Locum Leaders CEO Will Drescher, MD, says his company pays for licenses in some states and assists with paperwork in others.
I’m a Southern boy who has lived my entire life between Orlando (Fla.), Tennessee, and Texas. I picked my locations based on places I would want to go.
—Eric Kerley, MD, medical director, Morristown, Tenn, nocturnist, PeaceHealth Medical Group, Ketchikan, Ak.
Unless hospitalists are full-time employees of the organization, such as Dr. Namkung with Cogent-HMG, their income likely will be considered independent contracting by the IRS. That means you’ll be filing an extra form (1099) with your return, and you may have to pay quarterly estimated self-employment tax. Hospitalists are encouraged to consult their financial advisors to make sure they are set up properly. Hospitalists who live in one state and work in another also need to beware of state and municipal tax guidelines.
One hidden cost of super-commuting is less time for household upkeep. Tony Venturato does not have the luxury of a week-on/week-off schedule, and with travel, his weekends are cut down to a day or a day and a half twice a month. That doesn’t leave much time for household chores and home improvement projects.