After completing their training, many physicians find jobs in hospitals or clinics. Some may even join a practice or start their own. Unfortunately, some physicians do not wish to settle at one location immediately. Some may even find these positions limiting in advancing their careers or experience. Fortunately, these individuals can choose classes as locum tenens physicians.

What is a Locum Tenens Physician?

“locums tenens” is Latin, meaning “to hold the place of.” Like substitute teachers, locums tenens physician jobs are fill-in positions when the regular physician is out. For example, when a physician who works at a hospital wants to take a vacation or some time off, a locum tenens physician would fill in until they return.

The practice became an organized solution in the late 1970s due to a demonstration project conducted by the University of Utah. This practice started small but became a trendy option for physicians at any career stage. Somewhere between 4% and 15% of all physicians choose this option at some point in their careers.


Becoming a locum tenens physician could significantly boost anyone wishing to expand their career. Broadening horizons and gaining experience in different fields can help boost anyone’s career. By working in temporary positions in various parts of the country, physicians can find experiences and learning opportunities unavailable by staying in one place.

Physicians can learn how things are done in different states and regions. They also have the chance to see what it is like working for a larger or smaller facility than what they are used to. These opportunities can boost a resume for a more permanent position in the future and help physicians identify where they wish to work.


There is a lot of flexibility available to those who choose to work as a locum tenens physician. Physicians can decide when and where they want to work. This aspect provides the flexibility for physicians to work when they have free time or just want to fill in gaps between permanent positions.

Since these physicians work as independent contractors, they are working for themselves. These doctors can choose when to work and when to give themselves some time off. This flexibility can help many individuals avoid the stress and burnout of a more permanent position.

The only downside to working as an independent contractor is that these individuals must manage their taxes and health insurance. Although this may be difficult for some, it can provide the flexibility to choose plans and options that better fit their situations.

Benefits for Small Communities

Locum tenens physicians also provide benefits for small and rural communities. Although there are a variety of positions in large hospitals and communities that benefit the patients in these areas, many small communities survive due to the usage of locums tenens physicians.

Many communities across the country have only one or two doctors available to treat patients. When these individuals need time off, a locum tenens physician can provide services the community needs. Sometimes, small and rural communities need help to keep a full-time physician on staff. Locum tenens physicians offer a cost-effective alternative to meet the health needs of the people.

Whether just starting, changing in the middle of a career, or even working towards retirement, locums tenens physician positions provide a lucrative and beneficial option.