If you are considering serving in a locum tenens position, then one of the most important considerations is the compensation package. Many of the locum tenens placements offered by medical staffing firms offer very competitive perks like transportation, housing, malpractice insurance and licensing assistance, as well as very lucrative financial rewards. Before you sign the contract, however, you may wish to learn about how those terms were drawn up and if there are more generous contracts available elsewhere.
One of the most important factors in determining how much compensation you receive is the geographical location in which you plan to serve. It may be counter-intuitive but the most populous, urban areas are not the most lucrative. Rural areas which have difficulty attracting medical professionals typically offer $1,500 more in annual salary than urban hospitals. Although this figure relates to permanent positions, and locum tenens professionals are paid by the day, you shouldn’t be shy about negotiating higher rates for more remote assignments.
You should also understand the financial imperatives that determine your compensation. The staffing firm is your agent and liaison with the medical employers. In most cases, these medical organizations are desperate for a physician, nurse or allied health professional, or they wouldn’t be considering a locum tenens placement. This typically allows staffing agencies more leverage in salary negotiations, but this is blunted by the fact that most organizations work with a number of agencies to fill vacancies. The staffing firm usually coordinates the details of the placement including the salary; the firm usually receives a comparable amount as to that of the professional.
If you do choose to negotiate with your firm, there are a number of issues that may aid you in your efforts. First of all is the reputation of the firm. Companies, like Onyx MD, which have outstanding reputations in the industry have a proven track record with their clients and are more likely to secure lucrative contracts for their professionals. You should be up front about how much more you expect, but don’t expect much more than 20% over the traditional compensation, even from a five star firm.
When negotiating a higher salary, you should also bring up your own work history if it is stellar. There are a wide variety of professionals in the locum tenens market with more than its fair share of bad apples. If you have built a reputation as one of the premier medical professionals in the market, then you are entitled to above average consideration. This is especially true if you have worked for a long period of time with a staffing agency, and they are aware of your preeminent status.
Duration of Assignment
Finally, if a contract is of longer duration, then you may be able to convince your agency to be more generous in its terms. A longer commitment will likely include more time away from home and family, more professional responsibilities and a greater impact on the client’s organization. These greater sacrifices are usually enough to leverage more rewards from your agency and the client organization.
In general, a primary care physician can earn up to $150,000 a year for full time locum tenens service, but this can be augmented by working nights and weekends. Specialists can earn considerably more, and professionals with prior experience with an organization’s care system may also earn a premium. If you are interested in working as a locum tenens professional for a brief period or full-time, you will likely find the financial rewards substantial.
CEO, Onyx M.D.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal views of Robert Moghim, M.D. and do not necessarily represent and are not intended to represent the views of the company or its employees.