Locum Tenens: Contract Basics for Physicians
A shortage of physicians has led to a sharp increase in the availability of locum tenens jobs. These postings may last from weeks to months and provide excellent opportunities to explore potential long-term employment, different locations, specialties and much more. Though a small number of clinics and hospitals may contract directly, most use a locum agency to fill temporary positions. These agencies are tasked with finding the right fit for both parties and can serve as an invaluable tool in crafting a locum tenens contract. What constitutes a good contract is different for every physician, but you can’t go wrong if you look at a few essential components:
Food, Lodging and Transportation
New or locum tenens positions come with a host of expenses. You should think carefully about what those may be and who’s going to cover what. For instance, most locum tenens jobs won’t offer a stipend for food but do cover travel expenses both to and from the posting. Make sure your contract specifies the details of lodging and daily transportation (such as rental vehicles). In an article published through non-profit organization, American Family Physician (now commonly known as the AAFP), one seasoned physician recommends requesting a small apartment or efficiency to keep food costs down.
Insurance and Payment
The best locums tenens company will be old hacks in these two areas of the contract. For the most part, physicians working in locum healthcare are insured by the clinic or hospital. Double check that this is the case in your contract too. Also take a close look at how and how often you will be paid. A California law, for instance, dictates that the receiving clinic or hospital pays the locum agency. The agency, in turn, pays the locum physician. This is the most common method of compensation, though there may be some wiggle room in terms of direct payment, depending upon the laws of your home state and your destination. Be sure to understand and include in the contract exactly how you will be compensated and when you can expect payment.
The Worst-Case Scenario
The best locums tenens company will have vetted and gained a firm grasp on the details of the posting such as hours, duties and company culture. Still, there’s always a chance you’ll clash with another physician or administrator. Your contract should include provisions for this, beginning with conflict resolution expectations. Is there a system in place to address professional and interpersonal conflicts? If not (or if the dynamic persists), look into including some kind of out-clause for postings lasting more than a few weeks.
No matter what your requirements, a signed piece of paper that clearly defines these agreements is an essential start to your locum journey. At MASC Medical, we strive to make all locum tenens jobs exactly what you’re looking for. Let us help you assure that you have a winning contract that protects the route to achieving your locum goals. Give us a call to learn more about finding a choice of excellent locum tenens jobs.