5 Questions Every Psychiatrist Locum Tenens Must Ask Before Launching Their Career

by
Upasana Sharma
September 13, 2021

Locum tenens clinicians have been a critical part of the US healthcare system, from picking up shifts in times of exceptional demand like the COVID-19 pandemic to covering roster gaps and ensuring continuous patient care when full-time doctors are unavailable. Particularly, hospitals recruit locum tenens clinicians when permanent doctors are on sick leave or planned leave due to vacation, maternity, or work-related breaks like attending a conference. They may also recruit locum tenens doctors to cover shifts while looking to fill in a permanent position or in rural or remote areas where permanent doctors are not always available.

Locum tenens are in huge demand in all specialties, especially for psychiatry. If you are a psychiatrist wondering if locum tenens is the way forward for you, here are all the things you should focus on before making the decision. 

Is a Locum Tenens Career the Right Choice for You?

● It is great for psychiatrists who are just out of residency and wish to explore different settings, locations, and opportunities without making a full-time commitment. 

● It is also a great option for psychiatrists looking to fill in gaps between full-time positions, without showing a gap in employment. 

● It is great for any psychiatrist who wishes to test drive a hospital or setting, before signing the dotted line and making it full-time. 

● It is also a fantastic option for a psychiatrist who wants to experience how a particular location suits them without having a permanent position tying them down. 

What Is the Demand for a Locum Psychiatrist?

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in patients seeking psychiatric care. As per a nationwide survey, one in three survey respondents who made appointments for mental health services said they had experienced difficulty scheduling appointments in the past. African Americans and Hispanics were more likely than whites to face difficulty, and younger adults were more likely than older adults to have trouble scheduling an appointment. This is due to a national shortage of psychiatrists and a way to fill in the shortage is locum tenens psychiatry and telepsychiatry. As per a 2015 report, “Systems that demand face-to-face psychiatry may find themselves paying higher fees for locum tenens psychiatrists, whereas others may employ psychiatrists more efficiently with telepsychiatry.” So, the demand for locum tenens psychiatrists is definitely on the rise. 

Where are Psychiatrist Locum Tenens Jobs Located?

Psychiatrist locum tenens jobs are located across the United States. At DirectShifts, we have more than 50 active locum jobs in mental health, located across the country. 

What Are Psychiatric Locum Tenens Assignments Like?

The length of a locum assignment can vary from a few weeks to more than six months. As for the work, locum tenens psychiatrists work at different locations on an as-needed basis and their duties are similar to a full-time professional. Though the duties can vary during each assignment, a locum tenens psychiatrist provides mental health treatment and counseling services to patients. They also handle the caseload, make mental health assessments for new patients, and follow existing plans of treatment for patients. 

What are the Benefits of a Locum Tenens Career?

Gain control over your schedule:

You can choose to work when you like and the shifts you like. Locum tenens assignments are meant for you if you prefer working for seven days and then taking the next seven days off. You can also choose to work 10-hour shifts during the week and enjoy a three-day weekend.

Pave the way to early financial independence:

Locum tenens psychiatrists often make a higher hourly rate than full-time employees. Also, you are taxed as an independent contractor or a corporation, thus enabling several tax deductions that a salaried employee does not enjoy.

No administrative duties:

As a locum tenens provider, you don’t have to deal with administrative hassles such as coding & billing, teaching responsibilities, staff management and are rarely tied down by hospital policies.

Avoid burnout:

As per a recent article in Forbes magazine, clinician burnout is causing a crisis due to an increasing number of patients seeking psychiatric care. As a locum tenens provider, you can avoid burnout by maintaining a healthy work-life balance and choosing the time you wish to work.

Locum tenens, along with telepsychiatry, is an integral part of the psychiatric care field, now and in the future as well. Click here to explore psychiatric care locum opportunities from top employers. 

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