Locum During and After Residency: The Pros and Cons


If you’re about to embark on your medical residency training, you’ve likely matched with a residency program and are thrilled to be one step closer to becoming a licensed physician! We congratulate you on your dedication and commitment to joining the healthcare profession and using your talents to impact the lives of patients for many years to come.

Moonlighting as an independent provider

Consider working as a locum during your residency. Working at various sites during residency is one of the best ways to practice the training you have gone through over the years. It’s also a chance to “test-drive” different settings. Program-specific rules will apply, but in most cases, a written consent from the director of the program is all you need to get your foot in the locum tenens door early in your career! Valuable experience, good pay and access to a lifelong practice options can be acquired through a locum position while a resident.

Awareness of the different healthcare practice settings and trends is essential to knowing which one is the best fit for you. We invite you to consider the pros and cons of choosing locum tenens during and after residency.

The Pros:

1. You can gain insight and knowledge about your specialty in a less stressful, low-volume environment.

Although stressful situations can arise anywhere, they are more common in urban hospital settings where you are likely to find yourself in residency. The change of pace that you will experience with a parallel or alternative experience as an independent provider may give you a better overall perspective. Perhaps your preference is to not have dozens of patients lining up to see you or be tied down to a strict work schedule, providing you with the breathing room you deserve to hone your skills and fully develop as a physician.

2. You will be equipped to make an earlier decision regarding the best route for you.

We know many physicians who worked for years in urban, high-volume hospitals under a primary employer only to learn later that the independent route was their preferred method all along. In other words, if you know you enjoy your locum tenens experience in advance of considering full-time opportunities, you may realize that you never want to be a traditional member of hospital staff–thus eliminating years of potential discontent with your work environment.

3. The locum tenens route offers competitive pay with only ten shifts per month.

We understand that you will need to extend a large chunk of time each week towards your official residency training program. If you are only able to commit to independent placements a couple weekends each month, you will still be able to benefit from a substantial income increase. We have many opportunities that allow our providers to earn a full-time income while working as little as ten shifts a month, and the same is true for those still in residency. When you decide to contract as a locum early in your career, you may have a head start on maximizing your savings, allowing you to pay off student loans at a faster rate.

4. Because you choose your hours, you can explore not only the Midwest, but also the world. 

Since most employers offer limited vacation time, many young professionals long to explore and see the country before locking down on a full-time job. But with the independent route, you can explore while you’re working. As a provider, you can choose to stay in one placement for an extended time or work at numerous locations in the Midwest and beyond. Depending on your preferred hours, this gives you the opportunity to explore multiple areas of the beautiful upper Midwest during downtime in-between shifts. Keep in mind that with the freedom to control your schedule, international travel opportunities are also easier to fit into your life.

5. Locum tenens jobs are not hard to come by.

When you choose to moonlight as a locum tenens during residency, you can be a part of the biggest healthcare trends of 2016 with expected growth into the future. In fact, Staffing Industry Analysts predict a 6% growth in the locum provider workforce in 2016 and an even bigger leap to 17% growth by 2017, as there is an increased need for practitioners in underserved areas. Wapiti has numerous opportunities throughout the Upper Midwest, and we work one-on-one with each of our providers to find the best placement for them. Regardless if you are in still in residency or become an official independent provider, you will never have to job hunt or look for work on your own, as we will always support you in achieving the work/life balance you desire.

The Cons:

1. You will likely not be able to relate to traditional physicians you brush shoulders with.

If you choose locum tenens during residency and later as a fulltime career avoiding becoming a traditional member of hospital staff, you will likely not be able to identify with other physicians when they complain about hospital politics, administration concerns, high volumes or unwanted hours.

2. If you become an official independent provider with Wapiti, we will not provide you with employee benefits like you received as an employed physician.

Official hospital employees are given benefit packages that they may or may not fully use—even though they pay taxes on the provided assistance. While you will not receive employee benefits through our partnership, we will help you get into contact with those who can help you with the process of setting them up as part of your self-owned business. Because you choose your own benefits, you only pay for the ones you actually need throughout your career.

3. You may decide that the independent route isn’t for you.

If you dip your toes in the locum lifestyle and decide it’s not your ideal health care atmosphere, you will still walk away with invaluable experience that enhances your professional development. Not only did you receive an inside look into a new practice setting, but you also very likely expanded your reputation, built a larger network, and ultimately made yourself more marketable.

Are you interested in broadening your horizons?

If you are considering the independent route prior to or after completing residency, we’d love to connect with you to walk you through the process. Gain exposure to one of the biggest healthcare trends of 2016 to see if it’s the ideal career fit for you.

Connect with Meredith, our lead recruiter, today. Call 1-888-733-4428 or email at

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Milbank, SD 57252

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