Owning a private psychiatry practice can be absolutely draining. Between seeing patients all day and being on call nights and weekends, it can seem like the doctor never stops working. Is it worth the pay? Only doctors can answer that question for themselves. But there is a way to work fewer hours and earn more at the same time. It is called locum tenens.
Believe it or not, the average locum physician works fewer hours than his or her employed or private practice counterpart. Yet he or she still makes more money in the long run. How can this be? And more importantly, why aren’t more doctors going the locum route?
Why They Earn More
Recent research reveals that, on average, employed doctors earn just over $113 per hour. The average locum makes just under $146 per hour. Annually, that works out to $280,830 and $344,730 respectively.
The question is, why do locums earn more than permanent employees? There are a couple of reasons. First, competition for locum tenens doctors is fierce. That makes for a favorable market to doctors who can then charge higher rates as a result.
Second, locum doctors are compensated in additional ways that employed doctors and practice owners are not. For example, staffing agencies typically pay for travel. Housing expenses can also be covered, as are some of the incidental expenses the local lifestyle requires. Staffing agencies even offer to pick up medical malpractice insurance and licensing fees in most cases.
When you add in all the extra perks, a locum’s overall compensation easily surpasses full-time employment and private practice ownership.
Why It is a Better Option
So why are more psychiatrists not going the locum route? For some, it is probably ignorance of the locum lifestyle. For others, it may be a matter of not wanting to deal with working on a contract basis. There are as many reasons as there are doctors who opt to continue doing what they do.
Those that do choose to go locum find that doing so has a lot to offer:
- More Freedom – Locum psychiatrists have more freedom to determine how they want to spend their time. They can negotiate contracts that favor them in terms of total hours worked and when those hours are put in. If they choose to take several months off at a time, they can do so between contracts.
- Work-Life Balance – There is little doubt that locum tenens makes for better work-life balance for doctors. The flexibility of being both self-employed and a contractor allows the doctor to take complete control over every aspect of his or her career. He/she can balance his/her work with the rest of life in whatever way he/she sees fit.
- Financial Freedom – Working as a locum affords the opportunity to be more financially free. Higher earnings allow doctors to pay off their debts faster. It allows them to work as little or as much as they need to in order to pay the bills and save for retirement.
- Greater Opportunities – Lastly, locum tenens work opens the door to greater opportunities for personal and career growth. Locum psychiatrists can even choose assignments specifically because they offer such opportunities. It is a terrific way to guide one’s career in just the right direction.
Locum tenens psychiatry is extremely competitive in terms of both pay and time. The numbers don’t lie. Locums work fewer hours, make more on average, and enjoy a lengthy list of career benefits at the same time. What’s not to love?