When you are navigating the healthcare jobs market and deciding which general direction you would like to move, one of the most important things to get straight at the outset is what type of position you would like to occupy. We are not talking here about whether you want to be a nurse practitioner or physician, but what type of medical setting you want to practice in. There are a few enticing options here, each with a set of relative benefits that could make your life that bit easier when you eventually start work.

When you are at the outset of your job search then, it is important to decide on what type of position you would like. Do you think you would be more suited to a traditional, permanent position? This type of arrangement remains the most common for healthcare professionals. You will be employed full- or part-time in a hospital or private healthcare institution; you will normally receive a yearly or muti-yearly contact which sets out in detail your income, benefits, and job responsibilities.

However, there exists an alternative to this route – the locum tenens position. More and more healthcare professionals are being employed on this basis, and the benefits are certainly attractive to a certain type of applicant. But is that applicant you?

What is a Locum Tenens Position?

“Locum tenens” is Latin for “to hold in place of”, and this well-describes just what this type of arrangement involves. The locum tenens position is an alternative to the permanent position, and they are nearly always temporary in nature. Typically, you will be filling in for an employee on leave or you will be covering a temporary staff shortage in crisis times. As you might expect, the Covid-19 pandemic made these types of positions even more common. They are not, however, an entirely new phenomenon.

The locum tenens position has some historical pedigree. In the world of healthcare, they were first introduced in the 1970s in order to provide for those in underserved rural areas. Because a long-term permanent position in such areas has never been the most attractive arrangement for healthcare professionals, the locum tenens arrangement allowed physicians to work temporarily in these areas, improving the general healthcare provision.

Is it Right for Me?

So, how do you know if a locum tenens position is right for you? You should decide one way or the other before you even begin your job search because narrowing things down is always a good move. Health Jobs Nationwide, a healthcare recruitment service, say that deciding early on will simply make things easier and increase your chances of job success.

But how do you know if it’s for you? The best way is simply to consider the advantages. Naturally, you’re going to lose out when it comes to long-term job security (a locum tenens position typically lasts only for a few months) but it’s a great way to gain medical experience, making you a more attractive candidate when you eventually apply for a permanent position. And for those looking to contribute to their career chances but have little desire to make a full commitment straight away, the locum tenens is also an attractive choice.

Locum tenens positions are also more widely available, meaning it is less likely you will have to travel far to your new job. But at the same time, if you want to explore another part of the country then you can look for these positions there, too.

The locum tenens position isn’t for everybody, but it serves a very important role – and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon.