19 May Three Lessons Retired Physicians Would Share with New Physicians
Maybe you’ve heard about the perks of working locum tenens after your residency or fellowship, and it sounds like a pretty good gig. After all, what’s not to like about extra income, flexibility, variety, travel, and work/life balance.
But you don’t know…what you don’t know, right? Here’s some advice from those who do know. Heed the wisdom of retired physicians who have been there, done that, and can help you enjoy working as a locum tenens physician.
Here are three tested tips to optimize your experience:
Use Locums To Discover Your Ideal Practice Setting
Your residency program prepared you to perform in any practice setting, but it probably was not able to provide the opportunity for you to experience a variety of work environments within your chosen specialty. As a locum tenens doctor, you can choose short-term assignments in various practice settings until you find one that feels right. Consider factors like:
- Urban, suburban, rural, or somewhere in between?
- Supervisory or hands-on work?
- Hospital, private practice, or medical group?
As a side benefit, you can also gain exposure to different work styles, technology, and areas of the country, depending on which assignments you choose. Short-term assignments can help you gain confidence and independence as you step out of your comfort zone and into new practice settings. When you find a role that feels right, there’s always the possibility you’ll be offered permanent employment.
Start Your Own 401(k)
As a locum tenens physician, you are an independent contractor and responsible for your own benefits. On the upside, you can pick and choose from a wide variety of available options. On the downside, you’ll have to find and pay for those options yourself, without an employer matching benefit.
As a medical professional, it’s unlikely that you’ll drop the ball on health coverage. However, you might decide to wait before starting a 401(k) on your own, thinking you won’t be making a career out of locums work. Don’t make that costly mistake. If you discover the locums lifestyle is perfect for you, you’ll miss out on months—maybe years—of tax-deferred contributions. Create your own retirement plan right out of the gate and maximize your retirement savings—with the added benefit of being able to choose any investment options you wish.
Don’t Wait Until Retirement To Try Locum Tenens
If you love practicing medicine, there’s a good chance you’ll miss it when you retire. Trying out a locum tenens assignment well before your retirement date can spare you a lengthy sojourn in the retirement void. Having a plan for your working retirement will make the transition easier and give you more time to explore options and ensure you have the proper licensing and credentialing. Pro tip: choose an assignment in a place you’ve always wanted to visit to help you get excited about retirement!