Primary care physicians and internists who have tried "temping" have found something to their liking: fewer hassles, decent money, and enough perks to make it economically feasible. In fact, 7 of 10 physicians surveyed by a major health care recruiting company say they are more satisfied in their locum tenens assignments than they were in their previous permanent positions.
Many of the physicians in temporary assignments surveyed by Salt Lake City-based CompHealth are young doctors, still relatively early in their careers. The company says average compensation for locum tenens physicians is comparable to that of family practitioners and internists in their first years of practice — $100,000 for 48 weeks — while such perks as benefits, furnished housing and transportation, and not having to pay malpractice premiums make it an even game.
Compensation was not specifically factored into CompHealth's satisfaction survey, but it is an important part of physicians' overall satisfaction with their work. The benefits mentioned above and a lack of having to worry about compensation issues (described below) don't hurt. Their value, both financially and from a peace-of-mind standpoint, can be incalculable.
What CompHealth did calculate was how the reduced hassle when temping influences overall job satisfaction. The survey found that, of locum tenens physicians:
81 percent do not deal with medical malpractice issues
76 percent do not deal with Medicare and Medicaid payment issues
42 percent do not deal with managed care issues
Physicians also like the freedom — some, for instance, work near their homes in cold-weather states during the summer, then take assignments in warm-weather locations during the winter. The travel, living arrangements, and means of transportation in the warm-weather locales are financed by the staffing company while the physician is on assignment.
Only 1 in 10 were less satisfied with temporary work than permanent assignments.
Average compensation, temp vs. full time
*SOURCE: LOCUM TENENS PHYSICIAN SATISFACTION REPORT, COMPHEALTH, SALT LAKE CITY, 2002
†SOURCE: 2001 COMPENSATION & PRODUCTIVITY SURVEY, AMERICAN MEDICAL GROUP ASSOCIATION, ALEXANDRIA, VA.
Compared to your last permanent position, how satisfied are you with locum tenens work?
Figures are rounded and "not sure" responses are not shown. Therefore, figures do not add to 100 percent.
SOURCE: LOCUM TENENS PHYSICIAN SATISFACTION REPORT, COMPHEALTH, SALT LAKE CITY, 2002