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March 8, 2023
March 14, 2023

Across the healthcare industry, the job search for locum tenens roles is on the rise. What is driving the need for locum tenens Physicians and Advanced Practitioners, and how is it affecting the medical sector? Let us find out.

What Does Locum Tenens Mean?

Locum tenens is Latin for "to hold a place." It is a temporary staffing solution for resolving physician and advanced practitioner shortage problems. Over 90% of medical facilities in the US have, at some point, hired locum tenens Physicians and Advanced Practitioners who practice Critical Care, Primary Care, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Anesthesiology, Surgeons, and other fields of medicine.

Locum tenens Physicians and Advanced Practitioners can fill short-term staffing gaps, ranging from days or weeks to longer-term locum tenens assignments which last 12 months or more. Aside from Physicians, locum tenens Physician's Assistants (PA), Nurse Practitioners (NP), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA), and even licensed counselors are in high demand.


Healthcare Facilities Of All Types Utilize Locum Tenens Staffing

Whether it is clinics in remote rural locations or state-of-the-art hospitals in major city centers, you can find locum tenens work of all different types. Most facilities utilize locum tenens positions to keep up with increased demand.

There Are Locum Tenens Staffing Opportunities Countrywide

Locum tenens opportunities exist all over the country and even internationally. Whether it is a small doctor's office in Montana or a major hospital in California, you can bet that they employ locum tenens Physicians when needed.

Healthcare Employers Need Both Part And Full-Time Locum Tenens Physicians

Healthcare facilities are not only looking for Physicians to fill in for a holiday weekend. In addition to part-time opportunities, many facilities are looking to offer long-term and recurring locum tenens positions to Physicians in various medical specialties. Even if your job search is catered to more long-term positions, locum tenens can still work for you.

Locum Tenens Staffing Agencies Can Help You Find Work

Locum tenens agencies can be a great helping hand for any Physician that is looking to begin their locum career. These locum tenens companies can help you search for roles that meet your needs. Often, locum tenens staffing agencies assist with other aspects of the process, like salary negotiation, malpractice insurance, housing, and licensing compliance.

There Are Standards And Guidelines For Locum Tenens Physicians

As locum tenens work has grown in popularity, the need to enforce strong industry standards and practices for these workers became increasingly important. Because of this need, the National Association of Locum Tenens Organizations (NALTO) was formed in 2001.


The primary cause of increased demand for locum tenens providers is a scarcity of medical professionals. The growing Physician shortage crisis becomes more severe every year, especially in rural communities with fewer healthcare facilities. Since the 1970s, medical institutions have used temporary medical professionals to combat personnel shortages.

Physicians and advanced practitioners also take advantage of temporary assignments to supplement their income and explore more career opportunities. More and more Physicians and advanced practitioners are abandoning traditional permanent hospital work to become full-time locum tenens practitioners. That is because the average full-time locum tenens Physician and Advanced Practitioner has greater control over their work schedule and can earn higher rates than their permanent counterpart.

Locum tenens jobs have become so tempting that professionals in this field went from 26,000 in 2002 to 48,000 in 2016, with popularity only increasing since then. As you can imagine, the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased the need for Physicians and Advanced Practitioners with particular expertise in certain parts of the country.

While locum tenens assignments are available for every physician specialty, some specialties are in higher demand than others. Primary care, family medicine, urgent care, and anesthesiology are the most highly sought-after.


The very first type of traveling doctors were those who traveled to different places in the 1850s searching for patients. Of course, the locum tenens practice has evolved substantially since then. Below are some of the ways locum tenens have changed in more recent times.

Lengthier Assignments

Originally, locum tenens placements were for two weeks or less to fill in for doctors who were on leave or were otherwise absent. Yet in recent years, assignments have become longer. The most common locum tenens assignment duration ranges from five weeks to six months. Almost 40% of clinicians prefer assignments that last between one and four months, while 16% prefer assignments between nine and 12 months.

It is not unusual for a hospital or medical practice to offer a locum tenens physician or advanced practitioner a permanent job at the end of their assignment. Such employment offers are more common in rural areas, especially when the doctor's specialty is in high demand.

Needed in Many Medical Facilities

All hospitals and other healthcare facilities experience a physician shortage at some point. When this happens, locum hiring is the fastest way to fill the staffing gap. Over 90% of healthcare centers in the US use locum doctors at least once a year to stay adequately staffed, relieve physician burnout, or other cover leaves of absence.

Available Throughout the US

You can find locum tenens jobs in all 50 states, including in rural and urban communities. States with the highest hourly rates include Indiana, Florida, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Alabama, California, and Kentucky.

Full-Time Work

Being a locum physician is no longer strictly a part-time gig. You can now pursue it as a full-time career that offers greater work flexibility and better pay.

More Specialties

While primary care, family medicine, urgent care, and anesthesiology are some of the most desired specialties, practitioners in other medical fields can also find locum tenens work. Even PAs, NPs, CRNAs, psychologists, and dentists can find temporary positions.

No Experience Limits

Doctors and advanced practitioners who are fresh out of medical school can take locum tenens jobs. It is an effective way to build your resume and gain valuable experience in various types of work environments in a short amount of time. Senior physicians, retirees, and providers at the midpoint of their careers can also take up assignments; there are jobs out there for all types of physicians and advanced practitioners.

Why Physicians Take Locum Tenens Assignments

Some doctors become full-time locum tenens physicians, while others combine it with their permanent hospital job. Many do it to earn more money, but others do it for various other reasons, including:

  • Transitioning from one permanent position to another
  • Transitioning from full-time practice into retirement
  • Get hands-on experience before accepting a long-term contract
  • Give back in rural or underserved areas (locum tenens physicians are a primary source of clinical care to two million Native Americans and Alaska Natives)
  • More flexibility and work/life balance, with less administrative work

How Much Do Locum Tenens Physicians Make?

If you plan to take on locum assignments to earn a more competitive salary without overhead costs, we can help you. The average full-time locum Physician can earn $32.45 per hour more than doctors that work only permanent jobs. Depending on your specialty, you can earn over $2,000 per day. Finding the best-paying jobs yourself can be overwhelming and time-consuming.

Save time and focus on patient care rather than your next job by letting Health Carousel Locum Tenens match you with locum tenens opportunities that align with your long and short-term career goals. Our experience and connections within the healthcare industry put us in the perfect position to satisfy your employment needs. Sign up here to complete your profile and discover the most attractive locum tenens job offers for you.


In the future, you can expect to see the popularity of locum tenens work only continue to grow. This growth makes sense when you consider the Physicians' and healthcare facilities' benefits. Consider the current “great resignation” and how it has affected healthcare organizations. With so many people leaving their current jobs, locum tenens assignments are often created to fill those gaps.