Maximizing Your Income: How to Work Locum Tenens with a Full-Time Job


Locum tenens with a full-time job

With the health care industry in a state of flux, many doctors and advanced practice providers are looking for ways to maximize their income. You may be surprised to learn that it is possible to balance locum tenens with a full-time job as a physician or APP.

You might think that being committed to a permanent job would make it too challenging to work extra shifts as a locum. But contrary to popular belief, it is, in fact, a viable option, and many physicians and APPs have made it work for them.

Working locum assignments on the side can offer a significant change of pace and help connect you with valuable opportunities.

In this article, we cover some of the best practices for working locum tenens when you have a full-time job.


Pick up shifts around your schedule

You can often find part-time locum tenens work. Many opportunities are PRN, where you fill in for other providers as needed, weekend shifts, or 7 on 7 off. You could work weekends, shorter shifts, or even just a few extra shifts every month to suit your schedule.

There’s no shortage of locum tenens work, especially as many rural areas of the U.S. are in dire need of experienced physicians and APPs.


Plan your year

The fluidity of locum tenens jobs is to your advantage as you can arrange extra work throughout the year.

When considering locum tenens assignments, try to plan out your schedule a couple of months or even a year ahead. Forward planning means you have plenty of time to coordinate logistics with both your contract and permanent employer.


Benefit from additional income

In addition to practice expenses, personal finances, college, and medical school debt are burdens that loom over the heads of many highly trained medical professionals.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, on average, medical school graduates carry nearly $200,000 and potentially as much as $330,000 in debt. Expediting the process of paying back loans through locum tenens work can save you thousands of dollars of future interest payments.

Picking up extra locum tenens work can also help save for future college funds, fund a relaxing vacation, or secure your retirement plans. Locum assignments typically pay more on an hourly or daily basis than permanent positions, which is particularly advantageous when considering plans for saving.


Enjoy the opportunity of evolving experiences

Many physicians and APPs with permanent, full-time jobs suffer burnout from stress and the routine of their everyday lives.

Locum tenens work offers the prospect of travel and adventure around the country—a break from the norm. Even if the work is close to home, working with different people in different environments will help you recharge.


Care for patients from a variety of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds

Locum tenens work provides valuable opportunities that you might not find at your permanent position.

You could serve different patient populations from various socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds and work in different settings outside your regular routine.

For example, the situations you see in an urgent care setting are vastly different from what you may see in primary care or hospital setting. The patients you meet in a city hospital will differ from those you see in a rural clinic.


Enhance your skillset

You can take advantage of the experience extended to you through locum assignments to sharpen and broaden your skillset. There’s a wealth of methodologies and procedures you’ll be exposed to that differ from your full-time job.

Practicing new techniques means building on your knowledge and gaining a fresh understanding. These experiences help shape you into a more well-rounded physician or APP in your specialty—one who can combine the best practices and methods learned on the road into your full-time job.

If you work locum tenens at a larger facility or one in a city, you might be able to use sophisticated, more modern equipment not available at your permanent job. One example is the potential to use various electronic medical record (EMR) systems. It’s essential to keep your resume growing in line with technology.


Focus on locum jobs that broaden your horizons

If you’re thinking about a career or specialty change, locum tenens work can help you experiment with different opportunities. Perhaps the idea of moving to a larger facility, a hospital in a more rural area, or somewhere where you’ll have more autonomy is an attractive prospect.

Combining locum tenens with a permanent position gives you the best of both worlds—a stable income and the freedom to explore. Additionally, the connections you make with other physicians, PAs, and nurses at your locum tenens assignments will help you in the future.


Leverage locum tenens work to your advantage

Working locum tenens in addition to a full-time job can provide valuable experience to those fresh out of residency, mid-career physicians pursuing clinical excellence, and experienced physicians seeking a path to retirement.

Aside from a boost in income, adding locum tenens contracts to your schedule means sharp skills, new experiences, and the flexibility and freedom to work your own way.