Locum tenens unpacked

Every year, thousands of doctors discover the benefits of working locum tenens. Our guides excel at connecting you to all of them.

Why work locums?

Financial fulfillment

Nearly 30 percent of doctors who’ve worked locum tenens use it to supplement their primary income and pay down debt or grow their retirement.

Work/life balance

The freelance nature of locum tenens gives many physicians greater control over their schedules. And overseas assignments often involve fewer hours and generous PTO.

Avoid burnout

At some point in every career, burnout becomes a real possibility. Locum tenens can help you reset and recharge.

Test drive opportunities

Exposure to different facilities, new procedures, and more (or less) advanced equipment gives locums doctors experience they can’t get staying put, making them more valuable.


See the U.S. and beyond. Connect your locum tenens assignments to travel destinations, hobbies, and activities, and open yourself to richer life experiences.


Locum tenens can help doctors rediscover their passion for medicine, as well as the satisfaction that comes from putting the focus back on patients.

Domestic vs. international: Choose your adventure

Working stateside or overseas isn’t an either-or proposition (you can certainly do both over the course of your career), but it is an important consideration. Below are some advantages and challenges of each general destination.

Domestic assignments


  • Shorter contracts, more flexibility
  • Generally higher pay
  • Fill a gap between contracts
  • Help transition through important life decisions (such as retirement or divorce)


  • Collection of necessary paperwork
  • Obtaining new state licenses (if needed)
  • Credentialing and licensing takes time (varies by state)
International assignments


  • Great work/life balance. An average of fewer than 45 hours/week
  • Generous vacation time is common
  • Exposure to different health systems
  • Travel, adventure, and experiences


  • May require a visa (which we can help with), but no visa is needed in U.S. territories
  • Sometimes require longer commitments (often six months to one year)
  • Collection of necessary paperwork
  • Adjusting to new culture and how to practice medicine in a new healthcare system
  • Unmet expectations (e.g. housing quality)
For more information visit our international page

How do locums physicians get paid?

Regardless of their reasons for working locum tenens, providers all want to know about one thing: The money.
Here are some common questions and answers about locum tenens pay rates and compensation.

Does working with an agency make a difference?

Yes. Locums agencies work directly with the facility and the healthcare provider to negotiate the rate, as well as shift preferences, premiums, call, days off, and per diem allowances.

What factors determine pay rates?
  • Specialty demand
  • Type of facility and location
  • Patient load and skill set
  • Specific shifts required
Are locums physicians considered independent contractors?

Yes. And this means taxes are not withheld from paychecks. Physicians should consult an accountant or tax preparer to calculate estimated taxes due, set aside funds, and submit quarterly payments as required.

What’s the average pay for a locums assignment?

Rates vary widely. But locums providers typically earn more per hour than they would in a permanent position. According to recent data from CHG Healthcare, on average across all specialties, it’s almost $33 per hour more.

What do reputable agencies cover—and not cover?


  • Medical malpractice insurance
  • Licensing, credentialing, and privileging
  • Travel and housing

Not covered:

  • Taxes
  • Medical insurance and benefits
How does call and overtime compensation work?

Overtime and call vary according to the client and assignment. Some assignments require no call or overtime. For others, both can come into play with additional compensation on top of the hourly or daily rate.

Locums for new physicians

Some doctors choose to do locums right after residency to explore, travel, gain experience, make great money, and find work/life balance. In addition to the reasons for doing locums listed above, here are some specific to new doctors.


Locum tenens provides freedom, flexibility, and travel opportunities. As well as a chance to decompress after finishing a brutal training program.

Money to pay off loans

Domestic locums positions pay competitively with long-term positions, and many pay even more than a typical full-time position. And since all travel and housing expenses are covered, there’s more money to pay down debt.

Exposure to different health systems

Experiencing how healthcare is delivered in remote parts of the U.S. or other parts of the world provides a broader understanding of medicine.

Long-term foreign practice

For physicians looking to make a permanent move to another country, locums provides the perfect first step.

Intelligent time-killer

If you have a partner or spouse still in residency or other job training, locums can provide you with money and valuable experience while you wait.


Many larger facilities continue to somewhat limit autonomy. If you’re looking for more responsibility, a locum tenens assignment can offer it.


For answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, check out our FAQ page:


asked questions

Sometimes what you need to know isn't frequently asked. Give us a ring or send us a note. We'll get as specific as you want.

Or give us a call at


For answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, check out our FAQ page:


asked questions

Sometimes what you need to know isn't frequently asked. Give us a ring or send us a note. We'll get as specific as you want.

Or give us a call at

Job alert subscription has been created. You can expect to receive new job postings as soon as tomorrow.