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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Flexibility, Compensation Attract Hospitalists to Locum Tenens


Competition is cutthroat in the world of locum tenens physicians. As agencies fight to hire hospitalists and other subspecialists they can assign to positions across the nation, those temporary staffers become a commodity in and of themselves.

Dr. Mohammed is one of those hard assets.

An agency physician placed by Barton Associates in a mid-Atlantic hospital, he did not want to disclose his full name because he is transitioning to full-time locums from his current, full-time position, and he doesn’t want to alienate colleagues by talking publicly of his plans to leave. Barton Associates does not want his name disclosed due to the time, effort, and resources that the firm has invested in him. Barton has been shepherding Dr. Mohammed through the licensing process.

Dr. Mohammed’s reason for transitioning to full-time locum work is simple: flexibility.

“With locums, you have a variety of choices,” he says. “When you’re going into your first permanent job interview, you’re just desperate. You don’t know how the system functions. ... If I would have known about the locum opportunity before I started doing the permanent job, then I would have taken the locums right away.”

Dr. Mohammed, whose ultimate goal is to work for a government facility in South Florida, says he is excited about the opportunities locums work offers. He can move around the country with little difficulty and gain exposure in urban settings, rural hospitals, and everything in between.

And, of course, there is the money. Locum physicians can gross 30% to 40% more per year for the same number of shifts as a typical FTE hospitalist.

“Definitely income─there’s no question,” Dr. Mohammed adds. “When you’re coming out of residency, you don’t have very good income. Some of us that have school debt, family responsibilities—you just want to take care of the financial part.”

Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.

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