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September 15, 2020
March 8, 2023
Healthcare Professionals

Locum Tenens: Jobs for Retired or Burnt Out Physicians

Many doctors in the United States reach a point in their career where they experience burnout, which often leads to early retirement or a career change. However, completely retiring from medicine doesn't have to be the only option for older physicians or those suffering from burnout. More and more doctors are choosing not to follow the traditional physician career path. Whether you're burnt out on your current job, nearing retirement, or already retired, you have job options to continue work in the medical field on your terms.

Common Second Careers for Retired Doctors or Burnt-Out Physicians

Since leaving a demanding and personally defining career can be a mentally challenging process, many United States healthcare professionals take a gradual transition to retirement by tapering professional responsibilities. Retired doctors can pursue alternative work that offers a sense of purpose. There are many opportunities available for doctors who are looking to stay involved in medicine as they transition from full-time, direct patient care. Below are five great alternative career options for a retired or semi-retired physician.

Consulting Jobs

Many might picture a consultant as a young professional climbing the corporate ladder of a large enterprise company. However, many consulting positions are available for retired physicians. Governmental, institutional, and biotech companies often require consultants with a medical degree and experience for insight into liability and product issues. The key to finding this type of job is to leverage the right connections, many of which experienced physicians have acquired naturally throughout the course of their career.

Telemedicine Jobs

A part-time telemedicine physician job can be an excellent alternative position for a retired physician. Employees often only need a computer, internet connection, and medical background to work in telemedicine. Those in such positions often work remotely from their own homes or local offices. Asynchronous opportunities are also available but often pay slightly less. However, they typically offer quick patient interaction and can sometimes even be completed exclusively by email or text.

Teaching Jobs

When you were in medical school, you knew that your teachers were a gateway to building up your professional network and skillset. A retired physician can pay it forward by teaching medical students when burnout becomes overwhelming. You might already be teaching at a major university, residency program, or medical school and wish to continue doing so full-time. Maybe you're looking for a change in environment and need to teach different courses such as anatomy and physiology to undergraduate students. You can even teach nursing or assistant physician programs throughout the United States. The various teaching opportunities are virtually endless.

Healthcare Administration Jobs

The need for employees that are qualified for healthcare administration in the United States is ever increasing. The job of healthcare administrators is to manage healthcare facilities and staff and make sure the facilities are properly resourced for the current patient population. This means that a physician or former physician must have the unique and important skill set to succeed in an administrator role. Healthcare administrators enforce a given organization's rules and regulations while overseeing marketing campaigns, budgets, and human resources.

Writing and Editing Jobs

For another non-clinical opportunity that can be done fully remotely, many retired doctors are turning to writing and editing jobs. Writing and editing quotidian publications like peer-reviewed journals and consumer websites is an excellent position for a retired physician. For those interested, writing and editing during retirement can be a perfect way to stay sharp after a tense medical career path while still sharing your knowledge in an actionable and impactful way. While not required, some former healthcare providers might choose to seek additional education for this career path. Obtaining a journalism degree after retiring as a physician can be a challenging requirement for those experiencing burnout. However, certification programs are available, like the University of Chicago's online medical writing and editing certification. Some of these programs can be completed in less than a year, like the American Medical Writers Association's Board of Editors in the Life Sciences certification. The benefits for finding alternative jobs as a retired physician are endless. These benefits may include:

  • Physicians could find alternate jobs as a writer or editor, contributing to a course curriculum, textbook development, or a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Join the administration of a hospital or the faculty of a local university to teach the next generation of doctors.
  • Become a healthcare consultant for pharmaceutical companies, government agencies or medical device companies.

The downside is that many of these positions require an entirely new skill set. Some may even require additional education or certifications. That's why an increasing number of burnt-out and retired physicians opt for locum tenens jobs, or temporary clinical assignments.

Why Locum Tenens is a Popular Second Career for Physicians

The number of physicians working as locum tenens has risen steadily in the U.S. for more than a decade. An estimated 90 percent of U.S. healthcare facilities now use locum tenens providers, with positions available in all 50 states, from small rural practices to large healthcare facilities in major cities. It is often the solution that retired or burnt-out physicians want to continue practicing medicine. Locum tenens allows them to finally have more flexibility of time, as well as a competitive salary and options across the country. Locum tenens physicians often get larger paychecks than their full-time peers, particularly in high-demand specialties like anesthesiology or radiology, based on the regional cost of living and the physician's experience level. The good news is that if you are nearing retirement, you likely have more experience than many locum tenens physicians out there. This typically leads to higher hourly rates.

Flexible Work-Life Balance

Physician burnout is a serious problem, with many doctors understandably reporting that they feel exhausted and overworked. The demanding pace, long hours, and lack of control can have a negative impact on doctors' quality of life, personal relationships, hobbies, or ability to travel. Locum tenens physician jobs are perfect options for physicians who crave more flexibility in their hours or location and want the ability to continue practicing medicine without sticking to the same strict schedule. Some assignments are only a couple of shifts, a week, or a few months. Others might be ongoing for up to two years. When working locum, doctors have the freedom to choose when and how often they work. Build your own schedule, with the option to choose whether you work nights, weekends, or on call shifts.

Competitive Salary

Locum tenens physician jobs can be not only a welcome change of pace, but also a lucrative second career for retired physicians. The salary for locum tenens physician jobs is quite competitive, with the opportunity for doctors to earn close to double the amount of income compared to their permanent staff colleagues when they opt for additional shifts. Locums tenens physician jobs often pay more due to the medical facility having an urgent need to fill the position to ensure there is enough staff to treat patients. Of course, location and specialty also play a factor in how much a provider can earn working locum. For example, positions at rural facilities may pay more (commensurate with regional cost of living) because it is harder to attract staff to those areas. And, if a specialty is in high demand at a medical facility, that can also increase the pay rate.

Travel and Test Out New Locations

Another advantage of working as a locum tenens physician is the ability to choose from opportunities across the country. Physicians suffering from burnout find this aspect of locum tenens work appealing because it breaks up the familiar office setting and allows the doctors to experience new work environments. Some doctors like to use locum tenens job openings as a way to network and explore a new city or state before committing to a permanent change. Physicians can also choose to branch out from the medical facilities where they normally treat patients and have the unique opportunity to work with government facilities like Veterans Affairs, Indian Health Services, or the Department of Corrections. Locum tenens providers have full control over their experience and where they work.

Build Your Resume

This isn't only an option for retired or retiring physicians. Many doctors accept locum physician jobs at the beginning or middle of their careers, too. Some use locum positions as a way to build their resume and evaluate future practice opportunities. You can choose to work temporarily in another private practice in your current town or in another state. Wherever you go, it's an excellent opportunity to expand your personal and professional networks while providing quality patient focused care. Should a permanent physician job open up in that specialty or that facility, either now or down the road, you have an advantage: You have the experience and the relationship with them already. Locum tenens physician jobs for retired physicians or those suffering from burnout are abundant, and a great way for doctors to work on their terms and continue to practice medicine. If you are interested in finding a locum tenens assignment, click the button below to contact us today.