In this issue of our series on Medical Careers, we discuss Locum Tenens.
What is Locum Tenens?
Locum Tenens is temporary employment for physicians. It's usually a
temporary position where you're filling until the position can be filled
Locum Tenens has only existed for about 30 years, but the number of
physicians who take advantage of it is steadily increasing.
What you get paid for Locum Tenens
The pay for Locum Tenens varies depending on medical specialty. It can range
from $400/day for family practice to $1500/day for a radiologist or
anesthesiologist. To see how this compares with standard salaries, select
the physician specialty in the drop down box in the left column of this page
or visit our Physician Salaries page.
The specific pay rate varies by the company that hires the physician - you
can find a short list of Locum Tenens companies below in the resources
Why would I consider Locum Tenens?
There are two main reasons for a young physician to practice medicine this
way. First, Locum Tenens gives you the option of trying out different
medical practices. Most medical students and residents don't learn about
different types of medical practices, so when they finish residency it's
hard to know where to go. With locum tenens you try out different types of
practices - or even the practice you think you want to join - before
committing to a long-term contract.
The second reason you might take a Locum Tenens position is that you want to
travel. These positions open up anywhere in the country, and you can get up
and go there. This often means the Locum Tenens spots are filled by young,
mobile physicians who can uproot themselves for a few months or year at a
How do I find a Locum Tenens position?
Since this is a temporary position, you will go through a Locum Tenens
company. In addition to some of the locum tenens companies listed to the
right, several LT companies are registered through NALTO. The National
Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO) is, as the name suggests,
a national professional organization that deals with Locum Tenens issues and
Positions for specialities are also outlined in online resources. For
example, you can find information on family practice jobs and neurology jobs
on this site.
Concerns with locum tenens
Obviously, when negotiating a locum tenens position make sure that
malpractice insurance is somehow included in the mix. There are also
considerations for your insurance tail if you are leaving a practice to do
While locum tenens is usually thought of a short-term position, the contract
can sometimes be a year or longer. Especially for these "long-term" locum
tenens positions, be sure that standard benefits are part of your package.
Locum Tenens Resources - a list of several resources