Locum tenens is taken from a Latin phrase meaning “to hold the place of.” Most commonly referring to temporary physicians, locum tenens doctors contract with recruitment agencies to perform medical services for a healthcare organization over a certain period of time. The physician works as an independent contractor paid through the staffing agency, which is in turn paid by the healthcare facility.


Locum tenens work benefits both physicians and healthcare organizations. Physicians can be contracted for any number of reasons, from compensating for physician shortage to covering a permanent doctor’s vacation leave. Healthcare facilities benefit from locum tenens contracts by covering gaps in patient care during periods of growth or physician shortage. The industry continues to grow as more physicians choose this way of practicing medicine and healthcare organizations discover the value of locum tenens staffing.


There are many benefits to the locum tenens physician lifestyle. Locums physicians often enjoy higher pay scales, more variety in medical cases, a broad array of work locations from which to choose, and the flexibility to build their own schedules. However, working as a locum tenens physician also requires some patience, good organization skills, and the ability to adapt to different environments. When deciding if locum tenens is right for you, there are several key things to consider:

  1. Adaptability
    As a locum tenens physician, you will be exposed to many new environments and hospital systems. By adapting to every new situation, you will be presented with greater opportunities to expand your career.
  2. Autonomy
    Working locum tenens requires a degree of independence. However, this independence can also be very rewarding. You will have the opportunity to control your own schedule, visit new locations, and more.
  3. Fulfillment
    Many physicians who practice locum tenens find it to be a very fulfilling career experience. You will have the opportunity to meet new contacts and treat a broader array of patient cases.
  4. Flexibility
    The locum tenens lifestyle offers the chance to be flexible with your schedule but can require some creative scheduling, especially if traveling is required for your contracts. Your locum tenens recruiter will be able to help you stay organized.

If you are interested in working as a locum tenens physician, visit our education center or sign up with NALTO® today. Are you a client in need of a qualified locum tenens physician? Submit your job order today and let NALTO® take your search to a new level.