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Strategies for Success in Locum Tenens and Contracting Careers

Physicians are discovering exciting opportunities in alternative career paths as the medical field evolves. Locum tenens and contracting roles stand out for their flexibility and increased earning potential, drawing in practitioners seeking greater freedom in their professional and personal lives.

While these roles allow you to design your schedule and pursue diverse interests, they also involve dedicated, hands-on management of your unique insurance needs to ensure you're protecting your hard-earned income. By exploring the advantages and the challenges of these positions, you can uncover effective strategies to address potential coverage gaps and help you fortify your financial security for the future.

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The Advantages:

  • Increased earning potential: As a locum tenens or contractor, you have the opportunity for increased earning potential. These roles often offer higher pay and perks like covered travel expenses and food stipends. This extra income and reduced expenses may benefit young physicians dealing with student loans.
  • Flexibility: Taking control of your schedule allows you to dictate your hours, avoiding working nights, weekends, holidays, and more. This freedom lets you spend more time with family, pursue personal interests, and travel, all of which help prevent burnout.
  • Valuable service to the medical community: You enable fellow physicians to take breaks, preventing stress and being overworked. You also fill gaps left by those who move or retire, ensuring uninterrupted patient care.
  • Professional growth: Working in different settings exposes you to diverse medical practices, fostering professional development and aiding in career decision-making.
  • Freedom from office politics: Independent work means avoiding the typical workplace dynamics often associated with permanent positions.

The Challenges:

  • Legal responsibilities: As an independent contractor and temporary worker, you are responsible for setting up your business structure. This includes establishing the appropriate legal corporation with the assistance of an accountant and business attorney to ensure optimal tax and liability protection.
  • Lack of employer-provided benefits: Unlike employed physicians, locum tenens and contractors may not receive employer-provided retirement plans and health insurance benefits. Health insurance coverage for contractors ends when the contract is complete. While malpractice insurance is typically covered by locum agencies (this should always be confirmed), life insurance is most likely not provided. However, young physicians can acquire term policies valued in the millions, ensuring comprehensive coverage without financial strain. Seeking guidance from an insurance or financial professional will help you make informed decisions when setting up individual retirement or Health Savings Accounts. These accounts provide tax advantages and cover health insurance costs during unemployment, helping bridge potential insurance gaps. Decisions regarding health insurance, Medicare, and Health Savings Accounts can be more complex for physicians who continue practicing after age 65. Again, guidance from an experienced insurance professional is advised.
  • Lack of income protection: Disability insurance replaces a portion of your income if you cannot practice due to illness or injury. Locum tenens and contractors cannot rely on employers or agencies for the crucial protection disability insurance provides. Individual disability coverage is portable and can accompany you from assignment to assignment, ensuring uninterrupted income protection. Safeguarding your ability to work and earn an income is imperative, especially for temporary workers who may face challenges securing coverage.

Insurance Solutions for Your Journey

Charting your career course as a locum tenens or contractor requires careful consideration of the advantages and the challenges. By taking proactive steps to address insurance needs that protect your financial well-being, you can seize the opportunities these career paths offer while minimizing potential financial risks.

About the article's sponsor: TMA Insurance Trust is a full-service insurance agency. For 70 years, we have been supporting Texas physicians by providing insurance guidance and advice. They stand ready to serve you. Click below or call 1-800-880-8181, weekdays from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM CST.

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For over 65 years, TMA Insurance Trust advisors have been serving Texas physicians, their families and staff. TMA Insurance Trust prides itself on offering unbiased information and strategies to members, along with exclusive group rates on a range of the highest-rated plans in the industry.

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